There is nothing more important at this time of year than giving draft grades. You have to grade each player and each team on their total draft in order to know how good they are and how good the team did. Otherwise, you would only have to guess at how good they did! You can't just guess, you have to know how they did based on what I tell you.
My draft grades will be the end-all and be-all for these players.
Here is what we know for sure: Andrew Luck has won four MVPs and three Super Bowls. Robert Griffin III has flamed out citing "irreconcilable differences" with Dan Snyder. Chris Polk had the first successful surgery to have robotic arms and robotic legs and broke the Cyborg Barrier for future athletes.
We may never know what happened to Vontaze Burfict.
But those guys aren't Seahawks. What you really want to know is the draft grades for players that the Seattle Seahawks drafted. That's what I am here for and you're welcome. This shit is about to get real.
Round 1 - Pick 15 - Bruce Irvin, OLB, West Virginia
6'3". 245 lbs, 4.50 40, 33.3" Arms
Bryan Anger and the Jacksonville Jaguars have made most people forget about their reaction to the drafting of Irvin, cited by many draft pundits as a second or third round pick, but Seattle took him 15th overall. Pre-draft reports might have said he couldn't have gone in the first round but during the draft there were reports that Seattle took him in exactly the right spot if they wanted him - the Jets reportedly were ready to draft Irvin at 16.
And supposedly other teams were also ready to snag Irvin in the first. What's the real story to believe? It doesn't matter because the only fact is that Seattle drafted him 15th overall. Was it a good move?
Well, everyone agreed that the Hawks needed to draft a pass-rusher, whether it was at linebacker or defensive end. Most of us had thought DE because there weren't any outside linebackers being rated as "elite pass rushers" of the Von Miller mold in this draft, up until Irvin was taken and then we had to re-evaluate. Is he an elite pass rusher?
Since the pick, most people have said that Irvin could be the best pass rusher in the entire draft but note that he might not be able to do much else. A "pass-rushing linebacker" like an Aldon Smith compared to an all-around linebacker like Von Miller is like comparing a starting pitcher and a relief pitcher. You could never get as much value out of the latter as you can the former.
Miller was exceptionally more valuable than Smith last season, even though Smith recorded 14 sacks. If you can stay on the field for every snap, be useful in pass coverage and run defense, then you'll be a better and more valuable player than a guy that can only come in on third-and-long, even if he does record 14 sacks. Which is Irvin?
At 6'3 and 245 pounds with a 4.50 40 time, Irvin has the size and athleticism to be anything he may want to be. As I said on Friday, Terrell Suggs transformed himself from a pass-rusher like Aldon Smith into an elite defensive player. There is always room for Irvin to get better, but in his rookie year I wouldn't expect much more than what Smith did. That's not without value.
Seattle struggled on third downs and Chris Clemons was the only player capable of consistently getting to the quarterback. The Hawks managed 33 sacks last season and LeRoy Hill was 2nd on the team in sacks with four. A linebacking core of K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner, LeRoy Hill, and Barrett Ruud looks a hell of a whole lot better when you add Irvin. There is a nice rotation there and a little bit of depth. (Of course, apply this same statement when I get to Wagner and just switch the names.)
Here is the thing about Irvin and his selection at 15: If we didn't have mock drafts and if we didn't know anything about a player except for size, speed, and college production and all we had were just "Names" then I don't think that people would be questioning Irvin. He has the size, the speed, the good college stats and he fits a precise and exact need for Seattle. He may not have been the "Best Player Available" (whatever that means) but he was the Best Player Available for the Seahawks and Pete Carroll's defense.
I'm not going to defend the pick and tell you that Irvin will become Von Miller or Terrell Suggs, but the pick is more than understandable. Melvin Ingram's issues with arm-length will always be an issue - his arms aren't ever getting longer - but Bruce Irvin's issues do have the possibility of modification and improvement. It's just a matter of what happens from here on out.
2nd Round - 47th Pick - Bobby Wagner, ILB, Utah State
6'0, 240 lbs, 4.46 40-yard dash
If "pass rusher" was the #1 need, then middle linebacker was a close number two. There were other areas that as fans we wanted them to address, but they actually needed starters at these positions making it the top priority. Considering that more than a few "experts' had Wagner ranked ahead of Irvin, you could say that they did quite well with Wagner in the second!
Like Irvin, Wagner had strong numbers in college, good size and exceptional speed. A 240 pound man that has better straight-line speed than some running backs and receivers. Wagner will step in right away and "forever compete" with Ruud for a starting job, but I think we can all expect him to be the immediate week one starter.
The last time that Seattle went that route with a rookie middle linebacker, they went to the Super Bowl. Don't be surprised if that happens again!
Inside linebacker is a position where you can go with inexperience because of how much help they get around them. A defensive tackle has an assignment that he has to take care of. A defensive end has an assignment. A cornerback has an assignment. If they all win their battles, than the middle linebacker is basically a centerfielder that doesn't have to move an inch when his pitcher is on point or the shortstop leaps for a grounder, etc.
Wagner won't be rushing the passer and he won't be dropping back to say "Hi!" to Earl Thomas, he just has to kill anything that comes into his path. Wagner can do that. He was a tackling machine at Utah State and there's reason to believe he can be just as good, or better, than #9 pick Luke Kuechly. He's got the size, speed, and numbers - he just has to go out there and make the tackles.
I believe he can do that just fine.
Round 3 - Pick 75 - Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin
5'11", 204 lbs, 4.55 40
All during the leadup to the draft, I said that Wilson had almost no shot of being a good NFL starter because he was too short. When the Hawks picked him though, I got excited. With good reason. Wilson is the highest QB drafted by the Seahawks since Rick Mirer in 1993. (LeRoy is the highest linebacker. Hey-o!)
Russell "Brand Name" Wilson (my own personal nickname for him) was an absolute stud at Wisconsin. He broke NCAA records and was one of the most exciting players to watch last season. If he was only just as tall as Robert Griffin, there is no way that we would be talking about him as a third round pick.
But he is that short and that's why he was a third round pick. No QB under six feet has ever been successful in the modern era. The closest you'll find is Doug Flutie and though Drew Brees is just a hair over six feet and perhaps the best quarterback in the NFL, he is the most exceptional exception there is.
I think Wilson was a good pick because Seattle was able to A.) Shutup anyone that says that they don't do anything to get a franchise QB, and probably most people that still think the Hawks should have drafted Ryan Mallett and B.) If he doesn't work out at QB, he could still excel at another position.
Antwan Randall-El, Hines Ward, Kordell Stewart... there are plenty of examples of players that found some use even when they weren't the right size to be a QB. I still think Seneca Wallace would have made a decent receiver. Russell Wilson gives you options and in the meantime he'll battle with someone for the second or third string job on the team this season.
I don't think that Seattle should pick Josh Portis over Tarvaris Jackson, because then they'd be going into the year with almost no experience at the most important position, but we'll have to see what happens. I would much rather risk losing an undrafted free agent that would do no more than be the third string QB and be dangerously close to playing.
I think Seattle could contend next season for the whole shebang but as we saw with the Texans and Bears, if you lose your starter and you don't have someone that could throw a cold, you're done. I do think that Wilson makes an awesome third string QB though and a project to perhaps prove me wrong and be his own exceptional exception.
Round 4 - Pick 106 - Robert Turbin, RB, Utah State
5'10", 222 lbs, 4.50 40
The second Aggie drafted by Seattle was 1,500 yard back Robert Turbin. He ran a 4.50 at the Combine, making him slower than Utah State teammate Bobby Wagner.
There were a lot of running backs leading up to the draft that we discussed - Trent Richardson, Chris Polk, LaMichael James, etc - but we didn't talk that much about Turbin. We probably should have. I said long ago that Seattle needed a back not to complement Marshawn Lynch, but to replace him if anything happened to him. That's what Turbin is.
If Lynch gets hurt, as he did for a time last year, what does Seattle do then? They don't have anyone else that has any business carrying the ball more than ten times per game. Michael Robinson is not a running back. Leon Washington is better used on special teams and as a burst of energy in the run game. Other running backs on the roster have names and stuff but my brain won't function at a high enough level to name them.
Like linebackers, running backs can step in and do their thing. "Hey, here is the football. GO!"
There's your job. So if you have the size and the speed, the cutting ability and the vision, you can be successful as a running back. There's really not much else to it. You don't have to learn as much as a quarterback or a safety and you don't need a whole lot of experience going up against giant left tackles as a defensive end would do. Just. GO.
If Turbin is asked to handle the rock for an extended period of time next year, he might not be a stud, but he could do just fine. That will depend a lot on the offensive line and that's another issue. (Of health.) Turbin could also be a stud, as fourth round pick DeMarco Murray was last year for the Cowboys. It's a great pick.
Round 4 - Pick 114 - Jaye Howard, DT, Florida
6'3", 304 lbs
Not gonna lie, I'm gonna start glossin' now. Those first few picks were really interesting and now Seattle starts drafting depth and other things. Some of these guys may be good and some of them will not, but how am I supposed to know which are the next Richard Sherman and which are the next Mark LeGree?
Hell, LeGree was one of my favorite picks last season, if not my favorite!
Howard had 65 tackles last season, 10 TFL, and 5.5 sacks for the Gators. Howard also says he "can play every position on the d-line" which would make sense considering how much this team likes players that are versatile. He was very disruptive to opposing offenses during his time at Florida and there's every reason to believe that he could force his way into the rotation as soon as this season.
Seattle added Jason Jones but that move alone won't be enough to make me feel safe that the run defense will improve and stay consistent all season long: The Seahawks gave up over 100 yards rushing in each of the last six games. The same trend that happened in 2010 when Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane got hurt.
They needed to get younger, fresher and healthier on the d-line and they did that with Howard. Very good pickup. But worth an A?
Round 5 - Pick 154 - Korey Toomer, OLB, Idaho
6'2", 234 lbs, 4.54 40-yard dash
Hey Pete Carroll, it is a Toomer.
Is that dead now? Is it?
Toomer has also run a sub 4.50 40, which begs to ask the question "Why didn't Pete just give draft clue clips of Fast and the Furious"? Toomer is the most successful person to come out of Moscow, Idaho since Sally May got a job as a manager of a Steak n Shake in Albany, NY.
(I actually root for the Vandals to do well, why wouldn't you support your little brother?)
Toomer provides depth at an area where we have almost none and anyone that's good enough to be drafted out of the University of Idaho must be pretty good. (Why do I always instinctively write "Idago?) Why can't Toomer be a surprise like K.J. Wright was? He can.
Round 6 - Pick 172 - Jeremy Lane, CB, Northwestern State
6'0", 190 lbs, ran a 4.48 40 on his Pro Day
Some good quotables from Lane here:
"It's a dream come true," said Lane. "The wait is over. I wasn't really nervous until the fifth round ended. I was told I could go between the third and fifth rounds. I think I should have gone earlier, but I am still very blessed."
Lane didn't see his name flash up on television's live coverage because he was tending to his baby daughter Jaya.
"I was watching, but my little girl had a problem and I had to tend to her, so I didn't see it on TV. My phone rang right after it showed up, though. Seattle wasn't a surprise, except that they didn't call until they were going to announce my name. It was going to be either them, Houston or Chicago, and the other two were calling and telling me they were going to get me," he said.
Seattle was one of the eight teams to bring Lane in for a pre-draft visit.
"They have a real good coaching staff and it's a great city," he said. "Their fans are great. Their DB coach (Kris Richard) is real cool and very impressive. I can't wait to get up there and learn from him."
Seattle has fair depth at CB but they need competition because right now only Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman have stepped up to prove they can handle the job and Marcus Trufant provides experience and leadership but it's not clear that he can be more than a nickel at this point.
Round 6 - Pick 181 - Winston Guy, SS, Kentucky
6'1, 218 lbs, 4.70 40
Is this Guy fast like the others? No. So don't say that Pete and John only drafted speedsters! But he was a tackling machine (10 per game and 22nd in the nation total) and is an "in the box safety" that will sit behind Kam Chancellor and possibly has a future at linebacker.
We needed depth at linebacker and at safety and we might have just gotten both by taking Winston Guy.
Round 7 - Pick 225 - J.R. Sweezy, DT/G, NC State
6'5", 298 lbs
Versatility? Sweezy will now be a "two way player" after having played defense in college and now being moved to the offensive line because Tom Cable is in love with this guy. I doubt that they will ever move him again, but who knows and at his size he could probably slide over to tackle, if necessary.
As for the name? I don't see what's so special about it!
Round 7 - Pick 232 - Greg Scruggs, DT, Louisville
6'4", 296 lbs
I want to say that the 232nd pick in the draft won't matter but in two drafts by Pete and John, out of eighteen players, only E.J. Smith, Jameson Konz, and Mark LeGree have really been of no relevance to the team and I think most of us are intensely interested in Konz.
Pep Livingston too but he did get a tackle last year! Fellow 2011 seventh round pick Malcolm Smith was interesting too and played well when he was on the field, from what I could tell.
Scruggs is a lot like Jaye Howard in that he plays all over the defensive line. Versatility!!! There's a baseball analogy here: You have a hell of a lot better chance of making the team if you can play more than one position. It's the "Willie Bloomquist Factor" of a guy that might not supremely talented in terms of being a star, but if you can play all over the field and fill in a lot of areas, you have value to the team in that respect.
I highly doubt that Scruggs, like most seventh rounders, will do more than make the practice squad, but the theme in two years of this regime is you just never know which players are going to be good no matter where they are drafted.
Versatility. Speed. Off-field issues. These are the themes of the Seahawks draft.
Overall Seahawks Draft Grade: F because if you think that arbitrary grades from me or anyone else mean a damn thing, then you are batshit insane.