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Seahawks coming to a turning point with their third round picks

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Kansas City Chiefs v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Seahawks and Patriots have made the most picks between selections and 90 and 99 in the draft since 2010, with six each. And while Seattle has drawn lots of draft criticism recently while Bill Belichick remains scathed, here’s a rather notable difference between the two franchises and these picks:

Only 2 of the Patriots picks between 90 and 99 are still on the team, both hanging by a thread.

All 6 of the Seahawks picks between 90 and 99 are still on the team, two of which are cornerstone players on the defense.

Now that may change before the team settles its 53-man roster in September, but Seattle is still holding onto hope for the four players who aren’t K.J. Wright (2011, 99) or Shaquill Griffin (2017, 90):

  • C.J. Prosise (2016, 90)
  • Nick Vannett (2016, 94)
  • Rees Odhiambo (2016, 97)
  • Delano Hill (2017, 95)

That haul is already much better than what the Pats got for their late-third round efforts: Taylor Price, Jake Bequette, Duron Harmon, Geneo Grissom, Vincent Valentine, and Jacoby Brissett. Brissett had a better-than-expected season for the Colts in 2017, but the return of Philip Dorsett was underwhelming in New England, even given the low amount of whelm for Dorsett already.

The Seahawks get to present great opportunities for their four underwhelmers listed above, though the window for them to deliver before the team moves onto the next crop is nearly shut. As an example, consider the case of Cassius Marsh.

Marsh was the 106th overall pick in 2014, and I think the hope people had in him is similar to the hope you should have for someone like Odhiambo or Vannett too. Marsh barely saw the field as a rookie, then got more involved with special teams in year two, though he still had zero sacks, zero forced fumbles, zero most anything by the time he got to the midway point of his rookie deal. That’s the same point that those three third round picks from 2016 are at: the midpoint.

As he entered year three, patience that Marsh would turn into an impact player on defense had just about run out, and he fell behind Frank Clark on the depth chart. When the team signed Damontre Moore midseason following an injury to Michael Bennett, it had kind of felt like Moore was already a more intriguing piece of the future than Marsh was.

Neither would be around for much longer.

Marsh had three sacks in 2016, but always seemed a step too slow. He was traded to (of course) the Patriots and in return Seattle got the fifth round pick that they just used on tackle Jamarco Jones. He played in nine games for New England, then got picked up off waivers by the San Francisco 49ers. Marsh reached the midpoint in his contract, had more opportunities to show there was a great defensive player somewhere in there, and when that didn’t happen the Seahawks traded him.

Prosise, Vannett, and Odhiambo are similarly at the midpoint. They similarly haven’t done anything in their careers up to this point.

For Prosise, it would seem that staying healthy is the key, but an 11-game sample size (and limited within those game at that) is not enough to say that he’s actually a good NFL player. He seemed to be on that path in 2016, but we don’t have enough proof that anything he did was actually sustainable, even when he beat up the Patriots defense that season. Opportunity at running back will almost always be there though because the position sees so much injury and turnover. It may behoove the team to give him more reps at receiver too.

If Prosise is healthy next season, there’s a chance he performs at a high level. If he can’t stay healthy or sustain the success he once showed, the team will certainly move on.

Vannett has the greatest opportunity out of all of them following the losses of Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson. No tight end on the roster has shown an adept ability to catch passes, but Vannett may have the highest ceiling in that regard. To get snaps, he only needs to prove that he can be a better asset on the field than rookie Will Dissly or 2017 undrafted free agent Tyrone Swoopes, formerly a college quarterback. (I am assuming that Ed Dickson will adequately display that he’s the best tight end on the Seahawks, even if that’s not setting a high bar.) If Vannett can’t prove to be a top-three tight end on this roster through training camp, there may not be much of a future for him in Seattle.

Or anywhere.

Odhiambo started seven games at left tackle last season but seems to be the closest to a permanent spot on the bench, if not an outright release. He was very bad at left tackle and couldn’t win a job anywhere on the line before that despite how bad the Seahawks’ guards (and tackles) have been from 2016-2017. The starting five appears to be set — or at least as set as they’ve been in May of any year in recent memory — and players like Jordan Roos, George Fant have grabbed more attention. If offensive line coach Mike Solari likes what he sees in Odhiambo, then sure, he’ll stay. If he doesn’t, it could be over that quickly.

And because of the change from Tom Cable to Solari that’s likely to be more true of the offensive lineman than it will be with most positions on the roster.

Finally, Hill (as well as just-missed-the-cut 2017 picks Nazair Jones, Amara Darboh, Tedric Thompson) are not at the midpoint, but judgments are coming. Jones looks like the legitimate deal, but Hill, Darboh, Thompson must fight to win jobs this upcoming season. Seattle signed safety Mo Alexander and re-signed Bradley McDougald, showing slightly less confidence that Hill and Thompson were the right picks. Darboh has perhaps just as good of a chance to start as he does to get traded.

This area has been a source of frustration for Seahawks fans because they see late round 3-early round 4 as a spot to find quality players, but this has rarely been the case for teams. Let’s look at how many quality players have emerged from that area of the 2016 draft:

  • If you stop at Yannick Ngakoue at pick 69 and start at pick 70, then go to B.J. Goodson at pick 109, you have a sample of 40 players. Of those 40 players, one has made a Pro Bowl so far: linebacker Joe Schobert of the Cleveland Browns went as a replacement player in 2017.
  • 10 have played in 16 or fewer out of a possible 32 games.
  • Only four have registered at least eight starts in each of their two seasons: Daryl Worley (CAR), Joe Tuney (NE), Jordan Jenkins (NYJ), and Javon Hargrave (PIT). All four were off the board before Seattle picked Prosise at 90. Zero players between 90 and 114 have so far registered two “starting seasons” in the NFL.
  • Few names stand out for positive reasons (Graham Glasgow, Kenyan Drake, Austin Hooper stand out among those that do) and that has very little to do with Seattle’s picks.
  • Take it back to 2015, in that same range, with another year of development, and the results don’t get much better. The 70-109 range in 2015 includes Tevin Coleman, Duke Johnson, Jordan Hicks, David Johnson, Danielle Hunter, Trey Flowers, Daryl Williams, and Jamison Crowder. And about 30 other names.

The focus on the Seahawks not getting enough production from their third round picks likely then stems from the fact that they make “the most” picks in that range, though these things can no longer be ignored: the end of the third round is different from the top of the third round, and make one or two additional picks from a range that rarely includes stars does not make Seattle that much more likely to find a star.

It’s perhaps a minor difference, and the Seahawks still have 2-3 years to figure out what’s happening with the players talked about above. Even though in some cases, they won’t wait that long.