The Seattle Seahawks had the 26th overall pick in the draft last year, and they traded it to the Denver Broncos, who selected quarterback Paxton Lynch out of Memphis. To nobody’s surprise, Lynch failed to win the starting job over Trevor Siemian, and he struggled in limited duty, but the book is far from closed on Lynch. He could still be a great player one day.
Many others at pick 26 cannot say the same thing.
With the Seahawks again set to pick 26th overall, and probably mulling over trade scenarios already, it’s worth some research time to see which other players have gone 26th overall in the draft. The pack ranges to some good, some bad, and as the headline spoils, some Ray Lewis’s, but pick 26 has brought forth some of the league’s most useless players of recent memory. Let’s pop a squint at those players right now:
2013-2015: Eight combined starts
The three picks prior to Lynch were Datone Jones (Packers), Marcus Smith (Eagles), and Breshad Perriman (Ravens). Jones, a defensive end out of UCLA, has nine sacks in four seasons and was moved to outside linebacker. Smith has been exceptionally more awful with 18 tackles in three seasons and four sacks. Some claim that Smith has simply been misplaced in a system that doesn’t work for him, and maybe that’s true, but he’s been about as unproductive as any first round pick of the last three years save for injury.
Injuries will go into account for Perriman, who missed all of his rookie season but returned to play in 16 games with Baltimore last year, catch 50% of 66 targets for 499 yards and three touchdowns.
2000-2012: Some great, some awful
The highlight of this era easily focuses on linebacker Clay Matthews, who the Green Bay Packers selected out of USC (under Pete Carroll) in 2009. Matthews has made six Pro Bowls and might be a Hall of Fame player if he can squeeze in one or two more All-Pro seasons before retirement. The pickings at 26 get a little more slim after that though.
Offensive tackle Duane Brown (Houston Texans, 2008) has made three Pro Bowls and that’s exactly the offensive lineman Seattle hopes to find this year. Dan Williams, Lito Sheppard, and Anthony Spencer are all good players in their own right. Then it gets kinda rough.
Of the rest of the group, only Kwame Harris and Chris Spencer (Seahawks, 2005) were starters. Then you’ve got Erik Flowers, Jamar Fletcher, Chris Perry, John McCargo, and Jonathan Baldwin, all of whom didn’t become NFL starters. That means that the average outcome for pick 26 is something like Harris or Spencer, which becomes especially pertinent info given the desire for the Seahawks to pick an offensive lineman in the first round this year.
Pre-2000: Ray Lewis and then ... some
The greatest 26th overall pick of all-time would deserve a spot on the roster of “The All-Time All-Pros” as the Baltimore Ravens selected Lewis 26th overall in 1996. Lewis’ availability at 26 had something to do with his size and ability to snuff out inside running plays but he proved to be one of the greatest draft picks of all-time regardless of position. Could anyone in this year’s class fall into that type of category? Perhaps but it won’t really be known until the combine, and the draft, fall into place. Early reports suggest that maybe someone like left tackle Garrett Bolles or linebacker Haason Reddick could be late-first round steals but we don’t know yet if they’ll even be available that late or if they’ll be steals.
Other good 26th overall picks prior to 2000 include guard Alan Faneca, defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield, defensive end Robert Porcher, center Dan Mosebar, guard Kent Hill, guard Joe DeLamielleure, and several more. The many busts include quarterback Jim Druckenmiller, nose tackle Ted Gregory, running backs Reggie Dupard and Steve Sewell, and more.
The Seahawks are currently stuck picking 26th overall this year but they haven’t kept their original first round pick since 2011, meaning that it is very likely that Seattle trades down or out of the first round entirely for a marquee player. That’s fine. Unless they think the next Ray Lewis is falling down draft boards for overrated reasons, the Seahawks may do better to use the pick for something even better than a single new prospect.