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Seahawks 2012 draft grades re-visited

Seattle Seahawks v Green Bay Packers Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

At this point it’s probably trite to write about how people felt about the Seattle Seahawks 2012 draft class. The poor grades, the incorrect evaluations on nearly every pick, the juicy galore of feasting on others’ hate for things that you love and know to be true with the benefit of hindsight. Yes, it is overdone and potentially overrated, but given the similarities in the grades from 2012 and the current ones on the 2018 class, I think it’s worth revisiting again anyway.

I mean, as far as petty “I told you so even though I didn’t know it could be this good either” goes, it’s really good stuff.

Now apparently 404’d, here’s what Randy Covitz said for the Kansas City Star:

Seattle Seahawks D-

The selection of Irvin so early was a shocker, but the Seahawks badly needed a pass rusher, and he had 22 1/2 sacks in 26 college games. Wagner was a head-scratcher despite his strong Senior Bowl performance. The undersized Wilson will get a shot to compete with newcomer Matt Flynn and incumbent Tarvaris Jackson.

In our roundup of draft grades for the 2018 class, we found a ton of D grades. SB Nation,, Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, USA Today, WalterFootball ... I mean, when Andy Benoit somehow gives your team one of the better grades for a draft, you know you’ve done something special.

While it’s somehow easier to remember that the Bruce Irvin and Russell Wilson picks were widely lauded, I sometimes forget that Bobby Wagner was viewed as undersized, and as David Fucillo put it in this NFC West recap video, seen as a guy who might not be an every down linebacker:

In six years, Wagner has indeed played almost every down Seattle has had (save eight games missed due to injury) and racked up four Pro Bowls, three All-Pros, and has come hot breath close to winning Defensive Player of the Year multiple times.

Some even tried to paint Wagner as a “compensation selection” for “missing out” on Mychal Kendricks after the Seahawks traded down behind the Philadelphia Eagles. Darin Pike of Bleacher Report did a good job of explaining why that wasn’t the case:

Anyone that has watched the Seahawks draft tendencies should know that the Seahawks don’t risk losing the players they want. When they trade down, they are confident the player they want will still be there.

The trade with the Jets netted a fifth- and seventh-round pick for Seattle. In exchange, they moved down four spots in Round 2.

Looking at the teams that would select before Seattle, it wasn’t hard to predict the Eagles would be looking at a linebacker...and Kendricks was the most logical selection there.

Kendricks certainly has the speed Seattle is looking for in their defense, as he set a new 40-yard dash record at the combine for linebackers (4.47). However, he has a tendency to attempt to tackle via big hits instead of using fundamentals. Not wrapping opponents up properly has led to him sliding off ball-carriers and missing tackles.

Kendricks has had a decent career with the Eagles, but won’t have any issues running into Wagner at a Pro Bowl event or NFL Top 100 members only party.

People say similar things about first round pick Rashaad Penny, feeling that even if the Seahawks wanted a running back, Penny wasn’t “the right” running back. That much like Bruce Irvin, he was “a first round reach” and like Wagner, not the player at the position that would’ve been as good as someone else, like Sony Michel, Derrius Guice, or anyone-else-I-can-name-to-make-myself-feel-pissed-off.

But this line of thinking implies two things:

  • That you think you know what’s going to happen with the futures of these players, which nobody does
  • That other teams weren’t about to do exactly what Seattle did and select said player earlier than many had predicted

Irvin was rumored to be off the board soon after the Seahawks’ selection at 15 (and they still traded down and acquired extra picks before taking Irvin), and John Schneider claims that a team tried to trade for Penny after they took him. Maybe neither is true, but calling any pick a “reach” — is a reach on someone’s ability to be all-knowing.

Back to the 2012 grades, here’s the brief synopsis of Seattle’s class by SI’s Vinnie Iyer:

Seattle Seahawks (D)

Key picks: DE Bruce Irvin, ILB Bobby Wagner.

They went for defensive head-scratchers when more reliable prospects were on the board.

I can’t ever presume to know who Iyer thinks was “more reliable” in these draft classes, but it seems like he doesn’t understand Seattle’s inclination to draft defense early. Which is strange unto itself but were there more reliable picks behind Irvin and Wagner? No, nobody is really “more reliable” in a draft setting when talking about players who are separated by picks instead of rounds.

Irvin went directly ahead of Quinton Coples, Dre Kirkpatrick, Melvin Ingram, Shea McClellin, Kendall Wright, Chandler Jones, Brandon Weeden, Riley Reiff, David DeCastro, Dont’a Hightower, Whitney Mercilus, Kevin Zeitler, Nick Perry, and Harrison Smith.

It was a really good draft class.

And still, Irvin at this point likely ranks ahead of all of them save for a few; Ingram, Jones, DeCastro, Smith (not a need), Zeitler, and then maybe Mercilus, Reiff, Hightower. There ended up being some truly D-grade players in there too though, like Coples, Weeden, McClellin. Of Weeden, Iyers said this:

Heck, I don’t even really mind reaching for QB Brandon Weeden at 22.

Of Kirkpatrick, who didn’t become a regular starter for the Cincinnati Bengals until his fourth season in the NFL, Iyers said this:

Cincinnati landed potential starters with each of its first nine picks, led by CB Dre Kirkpatrick (17) and G Kevin Zeitler (27), who should be in the lineup from Day One. Grade: A-plus

Of “safer picks, “Iyers said this:

DT Derek Wolfe fills a need, but Jerel Worthy or Devon Still would have been safer picks

Wolfe immediately developed into one of the Broncos best defensive linemen (perhaps only bested by Elvis Dumervil), Worthy has played in 22 games over the last five years, Still made zero starts over four seasons. That’s what we “know” of “safe” picks.

This is the joke we get with draft grades, only the punchline comes years down the line.

Though some jokes do come early:

Of course, much of the criticism also circled around the selection of Russell Wilson in the third round, both because he’s shorter than just about any successful quarterback in NFL history and because the Seahawks had just signed Matt Flynn for three years. Even those who liked Wilson as a prospect felt, “Well, they didn’t “need” him right now.”

Flynn had made two more NFL starts than Wilson at this point.

With other “needs” for Seattle, why take a quarterback when other positions were available? Mind you again: This team had Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson. The Seahawks currently have running backs Chris Carson, C.J. Prosise, J.D. McKissic, and Mike Davis — how was running back not a “need” when they selected Penny, given that nearly every person could have seemingly agreed that Seattle had the worst running back unit in the NFL in 2017?

You can disagree with taking a running back in the first round (as I have mentioned many times before myself) but how was it not arguably their greatest need?

Ah, there’s the Andy Benoit we asked for:

Wait, what? With glaring needs at cornerback and edge rusher, and Iowa corner Josh Jackson and BC edge man Harold Landry still on the board, the Seahawks drafted a running back? (And that running back wasn’t Derrius Guice?)

It’s like all the draft experts and mock makers set themselves up to shit on the Seahawks early on by mocking Josh Jackson to them over and over again. This despite the fact that Seattle — as we pointed out on FieldGulls many many times before the draft — has shown zero proclivity for taking cornerbacks early in seven previous years under Pete Carroll and John Schneider. I said it every single time Mel Kiper or Todd McShay seemed to come out with another piece highlighting a cornerback like Jackson or Isaiah Oliver to the Seahawks at pick 18.

What we said: They’re going to trade down, they probably won’t take a cornerback.

I felt that they would select either a pass rusher or use the pick to acquire a skill player (maybe through trade), because that’s what Seattle does with early picks; unless they’re taking an offensive lineman, and that seemed unlikely after using so much draft capital recently on Germain Ifedi, Duane Brown, and Ethan Pocic, plus the lack of quality linemen in most drafts these days.

The Seahawks don’t care what you see as their “need,” nor do they have interest in forcing a fit at a certain position when quality players at that position are not available. I don’t believe that Seattle necessarily believes that when they draft Tre Flowers in round five that they’re getting a lesser player than taking Josh Jackson or Isaiah Oliver in rounds one or two. I believe they believe they’re getting a guy who would be drafted much higher if not for other circumstances, like the fact that he needs to transition from safety to corner. That’s not going to net them a high grade directly after the pick, but that’s practically by design and also, who gives a “F” about grades?

A lot of people. I mean, I’m writing another article on it, right?

And by the way, if you think I’m just now holding this opinion on immediate draft grades, here’s the article that I wrote on Field Gulls immediately after the draft. Complete with grades for every pick, most of which come out looking a lot better than what the pundits had to pund.