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From ‘historically great’ to ‘meh’: An analysis of the Seahawks’ drafts from 2010 to 2019

2018 NFL Draft Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

There is a common refrain among a subset of the fanbase that is, shall we say, “not enamored with” the drafting skills of Pete Carroll and John Schneider.

I, myself, am sometimes part of that subset.
Perhaps more so now than ever.
(having crunched the #s)

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The short-version of this article is as follows:

John and Pete’s first 3 drafts in Seattle (2010-2012) were like someone handing you the keys to a brand new Ferrari and telling you the car, the insurance, and the maintenance are already paid for.

“It’s yours - go have fun!”

The 7 drafts that followed, from 2013-2019, were like someone handing you the keys to a 1979 Pinto and telling you to have it back it in an hour - with a full tank of gas. Yes, it beats taking the bus, but ... does it really?


Note: All numbers used in this article originally came from ProFootballReference.com.


2010-2012 were historically great

As I wrote on Sunday, the Seahawks’ 2010-2012 drafts were historically great - like all-time, history of the league GREAT.

From Sunday’s article:

Table 1.

As that table shows, Seattle may not be #1 (yet), but their 2010-2012 drafts are arguably in the Top-3 or Top-5 going back, more or less, to the NFL-AFL merger. Especially once Seattle starts contributing to the Hall of Fame column.

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As I alluded to on Sunday though, comparing the Seahawks’ 3-year draft class to those from different eras is tricky ... for two primary reasons:

  1. The draft was much longer before the advent of free agency in 1993
  2. Seattle still has multiple active players whereas the other “contenders” don’t

...

So let’s eliminate the trickiness.

Let’s compare the Seahawks to their contemporary peers.


Comically dominant

If I were to choose a two-word phrase to describe the relative success of Seattle’s 2010, 2011, and 2012 draft classes to those of their peers, “comically dominant” is the phrase that I would choose.

Tell me I’m wrong ...

Table 2: Seattle vs. the NFL, 2010-2012

There are obviously a lot of ways to judge the “success” of a draft, but at the most basic level, teams draft players hoping that they will become starters, Pro Bowlers, All-Pros, and (eventually) Hall of Famers. From that perspective, Seattle has done very well indeed.

So far, Seattle has turned their 28 selections into:

  • 19 starters and 103 starter-seasons; 24 more than any other team in the league
  • 8 Pro Bowl players; no other team has more than 5
  • 34 total Pro Bowl nominations; only 3 teams have even half that many - Pittsburgh (28), Cincinnati (22), and Washington (17)
  • 12 first-team All-Pro seasons; 18 of the other 31 teams have 2 or less; 9 have zero

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Narrowing the focus to the NFC West ...

  • The 103 starter-seasons is 44 more than the #2 team (LAR)
  • The 34 total Pro Bowl nominations for Seattle is 6 more than the rest of the division COMBINED
  • Seattle’s 12 first-team All-Pro honors are 2x as many as the 49ers, 3x as many as the Cardinals, and 6x as many as the Rams

Note: For those that are wondering, Russell Wilson was 2nd-team All-Pro in 2019, but has yet to receive first-team All-Pro honors.

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Speaking of the NFC West ...

Led by Seattle, the NFC West is the NFL’s top division in every single category: +2 in starters, +11 in starter-seasons, +3 in Pro Bowl players, +3 in Pro Bowl nominations, +1 n All-Pro players, +10 in All-Pro honors.

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Comically dominant, right?
Not hyperbole.


Ferrari vs. Pinto

Admittedly, I feel bad including players like D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Michael Dickson, Chris Carson, Shaquill Griffin, Jarran Reed, and Frank Clark in the Pinto analogy.

But those are arguably the 7 best players from the 2013-2019 drafts and between them, they have been named to 6 Pro Bowls and received 2 first-team All-Pro honors.

Yes, it’s still early for some of those draft classes (especially D.K.’s) ...

And yet, does anyone really believe that the SEVEN drafts that followed the 2010-2012 drafts will ever “measure up”?

Table 3.

Here’s the thing though ...

Ferraris and Pintos each have their uses and comparing one to the other is actually sort of silly. The Seahawks have both; let’s not hide it - instead, let’s compare Seattle’s “garage” to the other garages around the league.


A Decade Apiece

Just like no one apologizes when they beat a team that’s at less than full-strength, Seattle isn’t going to apologize for riding an historically great 3-year stretch of drafts to a still-pretty-dang-good 10-year stretch of drafts.

Table 4.

As a reminder, when the chart was just 2010-2012, Seattle’s rankings, left to right, were T3 (picks), 1st (starters), 1st (starter-seasons), 1st (Pro Bowl players), 1st (total Pro Bowl nominations), T3 (1st-team All-Pro players), 1st (total 1st-team All-Pro honors).

Now?

With the 7 drafts from 2013-2019 included?

Seattle is 1st (picks), T4 (starters), 1st (starter-seasons), T2 (Pro Bowl players), T1 (total Pro Bowl nominations), T6 (1st-team All-Pro players); T1 (total 1st-team All-Pro honors).

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Moral of the story: A Ferrari can make a Pinto look good.


7-on-7

Up to this point, I don’t think I’ve told anyone anything they didn’t already know or at least intuitively assume. This next part though ... Strap in ‘cuz it’s gonna get bumpy.

Before I share the table, here are the overall rankings for Seattle’s 7-draft class from 2013-2019, compared to the rest of the league for the same time period.

  • Picks: 2nd
  • Starters: T15
  • Starter-Seasons: 24th
  • Pro Bowl Players: T11
  • Pro Bowl Nominations: T25
  • 1st-Team All-Pro Players: T12
  • 1st-Team All-Pro Honors: T17

See? BUMPY. Left to right, starting with the 2nd-most picks: minus-13, minus-9, plus-13, minus-14, plus-13, minus-5 ... down, down, up, down, up, down.

BUMPY.

Putting that another way, Seattle turned the 2nd-most picks (69) into middle-of-the road numbers of starters, Pro Bowlers, and All-Pros, with subpar results in the cumulative categories.

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One word of warning before I share the table ...

Do not look directly at the “Cumulative Pro Bowl Nominations” column.
The image could be seared into your retina forever.
It is NOT good.

Table 5.

Cumulative Pro Bowl nominations: Kansas City 25, Seattle 6.

Granted, it’s Kansas City, and they have drafted a bunch of really good players recently, including Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Marcus Peters, Chris Jones and some QB that I can’t think of right now.

But the Raiders (yes, the Raiders) have a 15 in that column.

And the Bears have a 12.

YUCK!

Now for the REALLY bad part ...

If you go through that entire table and reorder every column to determine the rankings, you will find that only 8 teams consistently rank lower than Seattle for that 7-year period.

Interestingly, 5 of the 8 are from the East divisions - Buffalo (50), New England (59), and New York (53) from the AFC; New York (48) and Washington (60) from the NFC.

The other 3 teams are the Bengals (67), the Broncos (54), and the Panthers (43).

Add it all up and, at best, Seattle’s drafts from 2013-2019 rank in the middle of the bottom half of the league.

Except ...

The number after each of those 8 teams is how many selections they made over the 7-year period: Buffalo 50 ... Panthers 43 ... etc.

As a reminder, Seattle made 69.

And, yes ....

I am being “nice” by not doing that math and including it in the analysis.


Final thoughts

TRAINING CAMP STARTS THIS WEEK!

Go Hawks!