Last postseason, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Paul Richardson became a bit of a playoffs legend for his outstanding catches against the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons. His around-the-body touchdown grab against the Lions is easily one of the best catches you’ll ever see at the NFL level. (How can it be OPI if the defender barrels his body into you?)
That being said, Richardson’s first three seasons with the Seahawks have been tainted by injuries, causing the end result to be 599 yards over 31 games. The talent is undeniable but the short-term results have been disappointing and his long-term future is always going to be embroidered with more question marks than the Riddler’s suit. I don’t think any Seattle fan dislikes Richardson, especially when he’s on the field, but many have a hard time trusting him and therefore have not grown attached to him.
It doesn’t help that there were other players the Seahawks passed on for him when they traded down in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Sitting at pick 32 following their Super Bowl XLVIII win over the Denver Broncos, Seattle held onto their pick up until they were on the clock, then took advantage of the fact that there were a couple of interesting quarterbacks who were about to fall out of the first round of the draft: Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr. That’s when the Minnesota Vikings called and offered the Seahawks picks 40 and 108 for pick 32.
The Vikings selected Bridgewater (whoops) and Seattle moved down eight spots while adding a fourth rounder.
The next seven players off the board were G Xavier Su’a-Filo, DE Demarcus Lawrence, G Joel Bitonio, Carr, DT Ra’Shede Hageman, TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, and WR Marqise Lee. The Seahawks had long been linked to taking a guard, with Bitonio being the one that many Seattle fans wanted to see. Bitonio recently signed a $51 million contract extension with the Cleveland Browns and is considered to be one of the best in the NFL. There were also many mocks that had Hageman to the Seahawks, but he’s been really underwhelming in his career. Seferian-Jenkins, the local UW product, has been a massive disappointment and is with his second team. Lawrence and Lee have had up-and-down careers, but Lee had 63 catches for 831 yards with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season.
At this point, Seattle was back on the clock, but they still felt they had enough players they liked on the board as to not to have to sit at 40 and make their pick. So they traded again, this time accepting picks 45, 111, and 227 from the Detroit Lions for picks 40 and 146. The Lions selected linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who didn’t do much and is now with the New England Patriots. With the fifth round pick they received, Detroit selected receiver Devin Street, who is now with Indianapolis Colts.
So the Seahawks didn’t take Van Noy, and the next four picks off the board were DB Lamarcus Joyner, WR Jordan Matthews, OL Weston Richburg, and T Cyrus Kouandjio.
Joyner’s been touted as a high-end nickel corner but I don’t think there’s much to miss there. Richburg moved from guard to center with the Giants and has been a starter for his entire career, missing just one game. Kouandjio’s injury concerns from before the draft have not gone away. Obviously Matthews is a big one, because he’s also a receiver and he’s caught 19 touchdowns with the Philadelphia Eagles. That being said, I think his overall numbers mask some of the pre-draft concerns about his ability to be a true number one threat or that he can stretch the field; he’s averaging just 11.5 yards per catch over the last two seasons.
That being said, it’s hard to argue that Richardson was a better pick at 45.
After going with Richardson, some of the players who Seattle passed on were Stephon Tuitt, Trent Murphy, Timmy Jernigan, Davante Adams, Jeremy Hill, Carlos Hyde, Allen Robinson, Jarvis Landry, and Jimmy Garoppolo. At the end of the second round, they selected Justin Britt.
With the pick they added from the Vikings in the first trade, the Seahawks selected Cassius Marsh. With the fourth rounder they added from the Lions, Seattle used it to trade for two picks, which were used on Kevin Norwood and Garrett Scott. With the seventh rounder they got in that original Detroit deal, they added Kiero Small.
So in order to move down from 32 to 40 and 40 to 45, the Seahawks final haul was Paul Richardson, Cassius Marsh, Kevin Norwood, Garrett Scott, and Kiero Small. The best player of that bunch so far has been Marsh, and it’s not close. Marsh is a great special teamer and sometimes a force on defense (but rarely) so that’s not much to hang your hat on as far as the results of the deal, even if the process seems reasonable.
Would you rather have Joel Bitonio and Jarvis Landry and none of those other five guys? Well, that answer is obvious. Seattle may have not been that keen on Bitonio, or maybe they didn’t realize they were trading out of his range when they moved down eight spots. Some of their gambles pay off and some of them don’t.
The 2014 draft is a clear example of when it did not.