A couple of weeks ago I looked back on the horrendous one-season stint that was Jim L. Mora as Seattle Seahawks head coach. His incompetence led to a quick firing, as well as general manager Tim Ruskell’s resignation prior to Mora’s departure, and that’s how Seattle ended up with the wildly successful HC/GM combo of Pete Carroll/John Schneider*.
* Longtime FG members may recall when they didn’t like either hire and considered the relationship as akin to Queen/Prime Minister. We were silly.
As we near the 2019 NFL Draft, I figured it’s time to re-examine what proved to be Ruskell’s final draft as Seahawks GM. Yes, his first pick really sucked, but it wasn’t all that awful!
Round 1, 4th overall - Aaron Curry, LB
Fans may recall that the former Wake Forest linebacker was hailed as the “safe pick” and a “can’t miss” prospect. There is no such thing as a “safe pick” and that is probably my most loathed phrase among draft pundits. Tim Ruskell gave Curry the biggest non-quarterback rookie contract in NFL history. He proceeded to be not even mediocre for his 35 games played from 2009-2011.
Curry routinely found himself out of position, blowing his assignments, taking poor angles, missing tackles, and eventually the Seahawks traded him to the Oakland Raiders midway through the 2011 season. He is one of the biggest draft busts in Seahawks history, and given how well the Seahawks drafted linebackers such as Lofa Tatupu, Leroy Hill, Bobby Wagner, and K.J. Wright, he stands out even more for his incompetence.
I think they only wore those lime jerseys once, and it did not go well. Here's generational linebacker Aaaron Curry flashing his world class instincts. IS HE BLITZING OR IS IT A BLUFF? Your move, Smokin' Jay Cutler. pic.twitter.com/E3kSx9M1fh— Parker Lewis (@ParkerLewisJR) February 13, 2019
The Seahawks did not NEED a linebacker, but in fairness to Ruskell, the top-half of the 2009 draft was low-key pretty crummy. Other available options included Mark Sanchez, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Andre Smith, Eugene Monroe, some mediocre WR named Michael Crabtree, and Aaron Maybin. There was also B.J. Raji, whom I reckon could’ve been a tad better than Colin Cole.
Round 2, 49th overall - Max Unger, OL
Seattle traded out of the second-round (more on that later), but then traded back into it by giving up its 2009 third- and fourth-round selections to the Chicago Bears for pick #49. Max Unger started out at guard and was objectively lousy, then missed almost all of 2010 due to injury, but he eventually became Seattle’s center. Unger rose up the ranks as one of the NFL’s best offensive lineman, and was a first-team All-Pro selection in 2012. Unger had injury problems in 2013 and 2014 before being traded to the New Orleans Saints for Jimmy Graham. Unger was a Pro Bowl choice in 2018 and has only missed one game since joining New Orleans.
Unger was a valuable if historically brittle member of the Seahawks’ o-line, and this was Ruskell’s lone long-term quality selection in the draft.
Round 3, 91st overall - Deon Butler, WR
Ruskell traded with the Philadelphia Eagles to get back into the third-round to get Penn State’s Deon Butler. Unfortunately, Butler never found his footing in Seattle, showing occasional flashes of promise in 2010 but ultimately ceding his starting spot on the roster to Ben Obomanu. In garbage time against the San Francisco 49ers, Butler caught a touchdown pass and broke his leg in the process. Despite the obvious shattering of his leg shown on the replay, FOX analyst Brian Billick still hoped it was just a cramp.
Butler only appeared in four more games before being cut in 2012, and he never played another down in the NFL. His final tally included 57 catches for 611 yards and 4 touchdowns. Ruskell’s eye for young wide receiver talent was pretty damn uninspiring. We would later find out that anything to do with the Seahawks and someone named “Butler” would produce undesirable results.
Round 6, 178th overall - Mike Teel, QB
For a brief moment in time, Rutgers football was actually great. Mike Teel was at the helm for a three-year stretch that saw them go 27-12 in the regular season, and 3-0 in bowl games. At the time when Matt Hasselbeck was hurt/performing poorly and Seneca Wallace was running out of bounds for self-sacks, there were some Seahawks fans who wanted to see what Teel could do — playoffs were out of reach by early December. Teel never saw the field and was waived in May 2010. He’s now coaching his high school alma mater in New Jersey, having never thrown an NFL pass.
Round 7, 245th overall - Courtney Greene, S
I honestly don’t even remember this dude. Evidently he also went to Rutgers, but he never made the Seahawks’ 53-man roster. Greene did play three seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, ending his NFL career in 2012.
Round 7, 247th overall - Nick Reed, DE
Round 7, 248th overall - Cameron Morrah, TE
Morrah only had 27 targets, snagging 16 balls for 194 yards and no touchdowns in regular season play. He also had 4 catches for 64 yards in the playoffs, including a near-touchdown against the New Orleans Saints. He didn’t play another game after 2011.
Now while the actual player selections may have averaged out to be a net negative, the biggest positive was clearly Ruskell’s decision to trade the 37th overall pick to the Denver Broncos for Denver’s 2010 first-round pick. The Broncos chose Alphonso Smith, a 5’9” cornerback out of — wait for it — Wake Forest. Smith was traded to the Detroit Lions in 2010 for Dan Gronkowski, and was out of the NFL after 2012.
Thanks to a total collapse from 6-0 to 8-8 and missing the playoffs, the Broncos’ first-round pick went from the 20-32 range all the way down to #14. Seattle used that pick on Earl Thomas III, whom unfortunately may officially be done with the Seahawks when free agency starts next week. Nevertheless, he will go down as one of the greatest Seahawks of all-time, and a future Pro Football Hall-of-Famer. You can thank Tim Ruskell for that... and also be mad at him for pretty much everything else.