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Seahawks 2015 draft was low on quantity but way high on quality

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Wild Card Round - Seattle Seahawks v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

I still think all grades are, well, inconsequential. I mean, it’s all part of what goes into the stew of discussion, right? There’s nothing more to it than that. But since people are talking a lot about grades and how one day later is far too soon, I decided to go back four years because it was over the last year that the Seahawks had to deal with the consequences of two of those picks.

The $31 million extension for Tyler Lockett and the franchise tag/trade of Frank Clark.

I think it’s because of those two moves, both at the times of their selection and their second contracts, that Seattle comes out far ahead with the outcome of the 2015 draft. No, the Seahawks have not returned to an NFC Championship game or Super Bowl in the four years since, but I wouldn’t fault their top three (including first round trade) players from this draft for that.

And I’d say that they’re now setup quite well with young prospects because of the long-term implications from their moves four years ago.

Pick 31: Traded to Saints, along with Max Unger, for Jimmy Graham and pick 112.

I don’t think the Graham situation worked out as they had hoped, but it’s hard to say what the alternative would have been. Keeping Unger and the pick — we don’t know what the pick would have been used on. We don’t know what the tight end situation would have turned into. Graham is still going down as one of the best tight ends in franchise history, setting team records and making some huge plays, but also watching the offense goes backwards at times when he was active.

If you use the 31st pick on a tight end and get three years like that out of him, I’d say you should be satisfied. Although the team did also have major problems at center over these years.

Grade: C+

63: Frank Clark, DE

It’s hard to see how this could have gone better. With the second to last pick in the second round, the Seahawks got a player who gave them 32 sacks over the last three seasons and played so well that the team turned a franchise tag into a bounty of new draft picks. It’s great when you can get a player who is indispensable and sign him to a second contract, but I think Seattle is selling as high as they possibly could on Clark.

This late second round pick turned out as well as you could have hoped for a top-five selection, honestly.

Grade: A+

69. Tyler Lockett, WR

John Schneider traded pick 95, 112 (the one acquired in the Graham deal), 167, and 181 to Washington to move up 26 spots for Lockett. It was one of the riskiest moves of his career but wow did it pay off. This front office loves to trade one pick and acquire four but they went the opposite way for Lockett. He was decently productive for his first three seasons and overcame a broken leg but in 2018 Schneider locked him down for a ridiculously affordable sum and then watched Lockett lead the NFL in DVOA and DYAR. If you don’t know what those letters mean, it doesn’t matter, it just means that Lockett balled out and you knew that already.

The Seahawks paid Lockett earlier than some teams would have and it probably saved them tens of millions of dollars and also allowed them to franchise Clark, which led to the trade. If they don’t pay Lockett before last season, they are much more likely to lose one of these players for no more than a third round comp pick in 2020.

I don’t think this is me being biased: these two picks are phenomenal home runs. Clark could have gone top-5, Lockett could go top-10 in a re-draft. Lockett was not as much of a steal as Stefon Diggs, but Diggs’ new contract is more than twice as large as Lockett’s. On a value basis, Seattle may have the better deal.

Grade: A+

130. Terry Poole, OL

Remember from now on: the Seahawks just lost three net picks by moving up for Lockett. They like to have as many picks as they can, increase their chances of finding gems. They didn’t find many gems in this class after Clark and Lockett, but they also sacrificed a few of their playing chips.

Poole goes down as one of the worst picks of the Carroll/Schneider era. He went with their original fourth round selection, one spot ahead of Shaq Mason. Remember: they just traded their starting center to the Saints. Instead, the Patriots intercept Seattle one more time, taking Mason a pick after they took Poole. Mason has played guard for New England, not center, but at any position he might have been a significant upgrade for the Seahawks. Poole, who was released before his rookie season, did not do that.

I wouldn’t give a sixth, or maybe even a seventh round pick an F for not making the team, but this was a fourth round pick with nothing but opportunity to make an impact on a bad offensive line and he never even got to the league. Not once. Anywhere. He did, however, make it to the AAF.

Grade: F

134. Mark Glowinski, G

What might have happened if the Seahawks had selected Glowinski at 130? Would they have still taken Poole or did they fear that Poole would go to the Patriots or another team? And if that did happen, would they have made a better selection than Poole? Either way, they did select Glowinski second and then he did start 16 games at left guard in 2016. Glow fell out of favor in 2017, then was released, followed shortly thereafter by Tom Cable. Would Mike Solari have been able to save Glow in the way that the Colts have?

Glowinski started nine games for Indianapolis last season and signed a three-year, $18 million extension. Oddly, the Colts also just fired their offensive line coach, so it’s another transition for Glow. But how well did Seattle make out with their value on a fourth round comp pick used on a guard? It’s basically one season of mediocre play at left guard, which isn’t that much less than what I think any team could expect from a late fourth.

It’s also a lot better than Poole.

Grade: C

170. Tye Smith, CB

I seem to remember at least one person on Twitter who’d constantly be ready to battle over the success of Smith, aka “the next fifth round corner like Richard Sherman.” Didn’t quite work out that way. Smith appeared in four games, no starts, and last played in 2017 with the Titans. He played well enough to earn another shot in 2018 but was played on injured reserve in late July; the Titans re-signed him this past March to a one-year deal.

But he never came close to significant snaps with the Seahawks. You do not expect a fifth round pick to be a high-end starter, but you do hope that he can stick with the team and play a role for 2-3 years.

Grade: D-

209. Obum Gwacham, DE

Another player who was cut before his first season and another one who was most recently in the AAF. Gwacham recorded 2.5 sacks as a rookie with the Saints but that’s the last time he got to an NFL quarterback. As a sixth rounder, it’s usually a bonus if a team finds someone who can stick on an NFL roster, even if it’s not their own. That’s not Gwacham really, but he’s still kickin’ around a bit.

Grade: D

214. Kristjan Sokoli, DL/OL

There was a huge freakout when the Seahawks drafted Sokoli because he was the first “four sigma athlete’ for SPARQ rating, as long as you converted him to center. Seattle did convert him to center, kept him on the 53-man roster for a whole season, and finally gave up. Sokoli has switched around from offense and defense several times now but his lone game appearance still came in 2015 with the Seahawks. He’s an athlete, but he’s not really a pro football player.

I still think it’s very fine to use a sixth round pick on a long shot with an interesting twist that could make him special. That being said, you still gotta pay the cost when it doesn’t work out. Losing a sixth round pick is not a big deal but taking up a roster spot for a whole year, in retrospect, was kind of frustrating.

Grade: D-

248. Ryan Murphy, DB

I have no expectations of seventh round picks. If they become Chris Carson, amazing, if they become David Moore, still kind of amazing actually. J.R. Sweezy? Amazing. Murphy was not amazing. He didn’t make the team but he did get to be active for three games for the Giants in 2017. He most recently tried to make it into the AAF, but was waived. Don’t worry, so was the league.

Grade: C (I mean, this is par for the seventh round, so what’s an F? What’s a B? It’s hard to say.)

UDFA Bonus: Thomas Rawls, RB

The Seahawks also had Kasen Williams, Kevin Smith, and Rod Smith in this UDFA rookie class, but Rawls stands out for well known reasons.

Overall Grade:

There are really three factors here to consider:

- The value obtained for the 31st overall pick

- Did you find multiple starters? Any stars?

- The overall volume of talent added to the roster

I think the value of turning pick 31 into Graham alone would be pretty obviously a net positive. It’s only when you also factor in the loss of Unger — a problem at center that hurt Seattle significantly — that it kind of starts to sour for me. The Seahawks did use the fourth round pick as ammunition for Lockett and we can’t say for sure how differently things would have played out sans trade. We don’t know who they would have selected at 31 or if they would have traded down. If they were dead set on a tight end, the highest-drafted was Maxx Williams at 55. If it was a receiver, that was also an awful year for receivers.

It’s pretty clear then that Carroll/Schneider wanted a receiver to help offset the issues they had in the run-up to their Super Bowl loss. The draft wasn’t providing that at 31, so they traded for Graham. I think the process is sensible but the result ultimately was a bit disappointing and potentially got them off track for a couple of years.

It’s really hard to judge but I also think the value at 31 was either even or slightly positive.

The overall volume of talent is also not great. The Seahawks picked up three regular starters, including Graham, and a fourth in Glowinski who started for one season. But that’s it. Five of their eight picks were essentially never used and that’s why a lot of people cite 2015 as a bad draft for Schneider.

I couldn’t disagree more based on criteria 2:

Any time an organization comes away with two players at the caliber of Clark and Lockett can say that they had a good draft. That makes 2015 a minimum B grade for me. When you factor in their pre-draft capital and that they didn’t have a pick in the top-60, while also moving up almost 30 spots for Lockett to secure his services, and that four years later they kept Lockett on a huge discount and turned Clark into five or six new prospects, then it’s even less of a question.

My grade for 2015 is a B+

Despite the Seahawks getting virtually squat from over half the class and Glowinski not even really doing much to help, the team added a Pro Bowl-caliber pass rusher at the end of round two and the NFL’s most valuable receiver-per-target a year ago at the top of round three. They maximized their value on both picks and now looking back, they were maybe two of the 10 best picks of the 2015 draft.

The Seahawks still get to reap massive rewards on the Clark pick.

On top of all that, Seattle did add a tight end who had 923 yards in 2016 and 10 touchdowns in 2017, making the Pro Bowl in both of those campaigns. They misused him, ultimately, but I think the 2015 draft was clearly not an ideal one in that range for Carroll and Schneider so they improvised. I think based on what we saw them do this time around with Clark and trading the other way around, they also learned from it.

If A grades exist only for years like 2012, then I think B+ sounds about right. If they had hit on one other player — which in a way they did with Rawls — or maybe found a better use of their first round pick, then maybe it changes the grade a bit. Which I’d be fine with adjusting because even four years later, grades still don’t matter.

Bleacher Report: D

Cite Clark as a waste of a second round pick.

NFL: C+

Thinks Tye Smith will be a good pick.

NFL 2015 Draft Class Power Rankings: Ranked 32nd out of 32

SI.com: B-