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Seahawks draft flashback: Trading a first round pick for Percy Harvin

Dallas Cowboys v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

On March 12, 2013, the Seattle Seahawks traded for Percy Harvin. In hindsight the acquisition feels like a bad deal for the Seahawks from the jump, but comment threads from the day of the trade surely paint a different picture.

“We just got PERCY HARVIN.”

“I didn’t think we’d be a possibility, but now I don’t even care about the cost.”

“PANTS OFF.”

and “SdfANT NssssntgWGKIMMMMMYsfginWVMIMWE!!!”

These highlight some of the top comments from that page and it just goes on from there. Of course, there were those (most probably) who expressed concerns about Harvin’s health and character concerns, but at 24 and coming off of a season in which he was on pace for about 1,300 receiving yards before he got injured, Harvin seemed like a better bet than anyone Seattle could have taken in the draft.

Was he?

The Seahawks gave up the 25th overall pick in 2013, the 214th overall pick, and what turned out to be the 96th overall pick in 2014. (It’s also important to note that Seattle recouped a 2015 sixth round pick when they traded Harvin to the Jets, a selection that was used as part of the four picks they sent to the Washington Redskins to draft Tyler Lockett.)

The 2013 NFL Draft for all intents and purposes is a fuckin’ stinker. The Seahawks surely took this into account when they dealt their first round pick for a player. However, it was really the top half of the first round that really blew while everything after 17 was above average for the latter part of day one.

The early moments of the draft featured the average Eric Fisher at number one, new Seattle resident Luke Joeckel at number two, and somehow-still-employed Dion Jordan at number three. The best of the top 12 is Ezekiel Ansah at number five, but even he can’t be too satisfied with his two-sack performance in 2016. Then the somewhat-troubled, twice suspended Sheldon Richardson went 13th overall, a pick the New York Jets got from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Darrelle Revis trade.

The first multi-Pro Bowl player (so far) off the board was Kyle Long to the Chicago Bears at 20. Long was in the Seahawks range if they had stayed at 25 (and consider that they could have just as easily moved up with the two other picks they dealt for Harvin) but at the time offensive line was not the biggest need; James Carpenter would be going into his third year overall and his second year at guard, while J.R. Sweezy had shown promise during his rookie season in 2012. Not that Long would have been a bad or confusing pick, just not as big of a need as some other things.

Long was followed by two more Pro Bowl players, Tyler Eifert and Desmond Trufant. Eifert would have obviously filled a need (Seattle picked Luke Willson in the fifth that year) and Trufant was a local kid, but they trusted the process with defensive backs to fill out their secondary on day three. That year they chose Tharold Simon in round five.

With their original first round pick at 23, the Minnesota Vikings selected defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. This is a player that a lot of people were pegging for the Seahawks before they dealt their first round pick. Defensive tackle was a clear need, but instead Seattle signed Tony McDaniel and drafted Jordan Hill in the third. Floyd showed promise in 2014 and 2015, but missed basically all of 2016 with a knee injury and it is believed he may never return.

Then finally, the Colts “Grigson’d” another draft by selecting Bjoern Werner at 24, and that’s when the Seahawks would have been on the board if not for the Harvin trade. Who was still available?

Cornerback Xavier Rhodes was who the Vikings selected. Rhodes has the size and length that Seattle likes in their corners and would have been a great successor to Brandon Browner. Last season, Rhodes intercepted five passes and was widely considered one of the best shutdown corners in the NFL. I’d say he still needs another year to prove it was not a fluke (and to earn that large contract he desires) but he’s proven to be a great pick at 25 either way. Would the Seahawks have made the same move? It’s tough to say because the obvious push for Seattle with their day one pick was to add weapons to help Russell Wilson, not to bolster their already-great secondary. I doubt Rhodes would have been the pick, but we’ll never really know.

One weapon who was available was DeAndre Hopkins, the 27th overall selection by the Houston Texans. Hopkins only caught four touchdowns last season but a large reason for that goes by the name of Brock Osweiler. In 2015, Hopkins had 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns while playing with Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, and Brandon Weeden. I wonder though if the Seahawks would have been more tempted by the athletic whiles and kick return ability of Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota’s third first round pick who went 29th.

Travis Frederick went 31st and may be the best center in the NFL, but Seattle was still two years away from trading Max Unger.

Others off the board in the Seahawks original range, good and bad, were Datone Jones, Alec Ogletree, Matt Elam, Jonathan Cyprien, Justin Hunter, Zach Ertz, Darius Slay, Giovani Bernard, Manti Te’o, Tank Carradine, Menelik Watson, Robert Woods, Johnthan Banks, and Kawann Short. (I could keep pushing a little further back to talk about Le’Veon Bell, Kiko Alonso, and Jamie Collins, but I had to stop somewhere.)

The seventh round pick that year that Seattle gave up was used on guard Travis Bond, a player who never made it in the NFL outside of a couple active games with the Carolina Panthers in 2013. Players still in the league drafted right after Bond include Armonty Bryant, Charles Johnson, and Jordan Poyer. But the Seahawks still had four more seventh round picks after the one they gave to the Vikings. The only notable of which being Michael Bowie.

Finally, the third rounder in 2014 they dealt was used on running back Jerick McKinnon. Also on the board at 96: Richard Rodgers, Bashaud Breeland, Devonta Freeman, and Justin Ellis. Then Seattle was back on the clock, where they selected Cassius Marsh.

So hypothetically speaking, what did the Seahawks really give up when they traded for Harvin? Because they didn’t give up picks, they gave up players. Nobody gives up picks — there aren’t tangible, physical, numbers lying on a desk somewhere in a GMs office as a paper weight — they give up the right to select players. In my estimation, if Seattle never deals those picks, maybe they select Cordarrelle Patterson, Justin Ellis, and some seventh rounder who doesn’t make the team. Or maybe they pick three players who never make the team. Or maybe they take DeAndre Hopkins, Devonta Freeman, and Armonty Bryant. Who knows. It doesn’t really matter at this point, but I think it illustrates two things: That the Seahawks are completely willing to get out of a first round if they don’t believe it will give them a high probability of talent at their selection and that sometimes (maybe always) they don’t really know how much actual talent will be left at their selection.

Oh and one other thing: They still went on to win the Super Bowl that season.