In the first press conference after Russell Wilson was traded, Pete Carroll went on an insanely long spiel about “second chances” and the Seattle Seahawks’ team philosophy. Geno Smith was even cited as one of those examples of a second chance player.
For all we know, Geno might be the new starting quarterback of the Seahawks, a whopping eight years removed from the last time he was QB1. If that’s the case, then it’s fitting for a team that has had an utterly bizarre fixation with one of the worst draft classes in recent history.
The 2013 NFL Draft was bad, bad, bad. Whichever team executive said this was the worst draft in a decade in the lead-up to it was on the money. The Seahawks’ own class of 2013 was terrible even by the standards of that year’s Draft. Luke Willson was far and away the best pick on the basis of actually being on the team for more than a couple of years, which can’t be said for many of the rest.
But that hasn’t stopped the Seahawks from trying to squeeze out something out of this particular class years after the fact! This is just from the top two rounds.
Luke Joeckel - No. 2 overall
Touted as one of the best offensive tackles coming out of college, Joeckel was anything but that with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was moved to left guard in 2016, signed a ludicrous $7 million contract with the Seahawks in 2017 and I think you know how this disaster played out. Joeckel never played another NFL down after his one year in Seattle.
Dion Jordan - No. 3 overall
A star at Oregon, Jordan’s career in the NFL was marred by injuries, as well as multiple suspensions for violating the league’s PED policy. He only had three sacks in 26 games with the Miami Dolphins, then didn’t play at all in 2015 or 2016. Jordan was signed by Seattle in 2017 and in only five games he recorded four sacks and showed some promise that made him such a high draft pick. Dion stayed on board for a second season but never elevated himself above rotational piece and wasn’t re-signed after 2018.
Ziggy Ansah - No. 5 overall
Unlike many of the other players on here, Ansah wasn’t a bust when he was with the Detroit Lions. In 2015 he was second-team All-Pro after racking up a career-high 14.5 sacks, and two years before he signed with the Seahawks he had 12.5 sacks. His 2019 with the Seahawks was a total disaster and he’s out of the league. I refuse to believe he actually had 2.5 sacks because that feels way too high.
Barkevious Mingo - No. 6 overall
Besides having a wonderful first name, Mingo was one of the key members of a stacked LSU defense that included Tyrann Mathieu, Kevin Minter, and Eric Reid. He was one of those great athletes whose potential was that of an elite pass rusher. Mingo wasn’t an elite pass rusher and efforts to move him to inside linebacker didn’t work out well, either. His one season in Seattle saw him post career highs in tackles and but otherwise he was hardly remarkable (a PFF grade of 55) and the Seahawks traded him to the Houston Texans as part of the Jadeveon Clowney deal. He’s out of the league, and while his case was dismissed, this was why.
Chance Warmack - No. 10 overall
One of the best guard prospects out of Alabama, Warmack didn’t consistently live up to the billing consistently in Tennessee. After a couple of years as reserve depth in Philadelphia, Warmack signed with the Seahawks in 2020 and never played a down. He opted out due to COVID concerns in 2020 and was released in 2021, and remains out of football.
D.J. Fluker - No. 11 overall
Fluker initially was a right tackle with the San Diego Chargers and made PFWA’s All-Rookie Team. He was moved to right guard, where he was the Seahawks’ starter for two seasons from 2018-2019. At the moment he’s a free agent after the Jacksonville Jaguars cut him loose from the practice squad in 2021. I thought he was alright but PFF disagreed and graded him a 56 in 2018 (69th of 86 guards) and 60 in 2019 (50th of 90 guards).
Jamar Taylor - No. 54 overall
Good grief I didn’t even remember that he was picked this high. The Miami Dolphins drafted him and by 2015 he was benched for poor play. He was traded to Cleveland in 2016 and then dealt to Arizona in 2018. When Justin Coleman left, Seattle famously made a meal out of the slot corner position and Taylor was the starter in 2019. He was extraordinarily terrible and was cut midseason for Ugo Amadi. Taylor spent a year with the 49ers but went on IR in 2020 and hasn’t played since then.
Eddie Lacy - No. 61 overall
I’ve not included Sheldon Richardson (13th overall), who was Defensive Rookie of the Year with the New York Jets and a 2014 Pro Bowl selection, as he was acquired via trade in what was a contract year for Richardson and an act of desperation from Seattle after the Malik McDowell ATV crash. Richardson wasn’t a reclamation project or a “second chance” signing like the others. Marquise Goodwin doesn’t count either since he was drafted midway through Round 3 and I only focused on the top two rounds.
And then we have Geno Smith. He was the 39th player taken but only the second quarterback off the board behind E.J. Manuel. His tenure with the New York Jets included a staggering turnover problem, and an injury caused by teammate IK Enemkpali punching him in the face. Smith lost his job, then had an ACL tear the following season, and you know the rest of the story. Geno didn’t fare too badly in his three starts last year, but there’s nothing about his game to suggest he’s a long-term solution at quarterback. Can he be a stopgap QB in the same way Tarvaris Jackson was? I suppose so, but that’s about it.
But the main theme of this article is the Seahawks and their never-ending fascination with such a poor draft class. Every player I’ve listed above except Ansah was considered a bust to some degree — yes, including Fluker. And when Ansah was signed by Seattle he was coming off an injury-riddled 2018 that was a precursor to his rapid decline as a player. Lacy might not have been a traditional bust given how his career began in Green Bay, but he was a reclamation project just to get him on weight again.
Pete Carroll loves individual reclamation projects; Big Mike Williams was the first major one in 2010. For that season it worked out above expectation. Their recent reclamation efforts — those “low risk, high reward” moves — especially from that particular 2013 group have been costly beyond the money spent. Seattle’s 2017 offensive line — Joeckel was a starter but as an aside Oday Aboushi was also part of that 2013 class — was legendarily terrible and had a major role in the team missing the playoffs. Eddie Lacy established himself as one of the league’s worst running backs, and while he had to run behind a poor o-line, both Chris Carson and JD McKissic fared much better. The Seahawks basically couldn’t function out of anything but its base defense in 2019 and having a total liability in Taylor at nickel was one of those factors. That same defense couldn’t generate a consistent pass rush — Ansah was supposed to be one of those contributors — and was one of the league’s worst at stopping the run.
Geno is a very different story. He’s been on the team for three seasons and is supposedly the frontrunner to be Seattle’s Week 1 starter in 2022, at a time when Carroll insists they’re trying to build a championship team right now. Those other players mentioned were either rotational pieces or starters for a majority of their careers aka getting regular playing time. Seattle’s immediate replacement for their greatest ever quarterback could be a guy whose last full season as a starter saw him win only 3 games out of 13 and rank near the bottom across the board in advanced metrics. His chief competitor is certainly on the precipice of bust at the very least, but there’s supposed to be upside with Drew Lock.
And yet I wouldn’t be surprised if Geno is the guy. Maybe he can defy the odds and show considerable improvement from his Jets days. It’d be the holy grail of career turnarounds if Geno can even be average for a whole season. But we’ve seen this movie before with the Seahawks and specifically this draft class, and I can’t shake off that recent Seahawks offseason decisions have consistently given this vibe: