Going into a draft as the Super Bowl champions, the Seahawks were in the catbird seat. Unlike past champions, they did not lose very many key players. The departures of Golden Tate, Red Bryant, Chris Clemons, Walter Thurmond, Brandon Browner, and Breno Giacomini will hurt somewhat, but Seattle possesses one of the best depth charts in the NFL and always seems to have new starters waiting in the wings. They simply couldn't afford to match the deals given to most of those players. Their clear priority in free agency was keeping stud DE Michael Bennett, which they accomplished. They came to the draft looking to reload their depth and possibly mine a starter or two, let's see how they did.
- 2nd round selection: Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado Grade: B+
The one clear need the Seahawks had before the draft was another wide receiver to fill the shoes of the departed Golden Tate. Seattle traded down twice for this pick, replenishing their war chest in the process. Richardson is a burner, who had scouts' mouths watering with his 4.39 40 time. This continues Seattle's tradition of looking for players with unique qualities. Richardson didn't garner much pre-draft buzz, but don't be surprised if he's playing a key role in the Pacific Northwest as early as this season. Pete Carroll has shown a consistent ability to utilize speed in his schemes.
- 2nd round selection: Justin Britt, OT, Missouri Grade: C+
Seattle did a great job of trading down for more picks, making this choice a bit more defensible. It was a bit of a reach, as Britt was a 3rd rounder on most boards, and some had him going even later than that. With the loss of Giacomini, the 'Hawks had a clear need on the offensive line. Britt undoubtedly appealed to OL coach Tom Cable for his intensity, consistency, and the fact that he can play both tackle spots. Looking at his game tape, he struggles against elite players. Britt had his hands full when dealing with speed rushers. While I do think he will play, I believe his ceiling is a rotational player at best and the Seahawks may regret the choice if Morgan Moses lives up to expectations.
- 4th round selection: Cassius Marsh, DE, UCLA Grade: B
Pete Carroll has a history of taking chances with players who've had off the field issues. Marsh will be his latest pet project. Marsh struggled to control his emotions, getting ejected from games, starting brawls and storming out of practices at UCLA. If Marsh can learn to harness his passion, he has the potential to become an elite DE. While he isn't fleet of foot, he makes up for it with great energy and motor, never quitting on a play. He has an NFL pedigree, his father and brother both played in the league. Marsh is tough, not prone to injury and can end up as another steal for Pete Carroll. But until he shows that he can keep himself from the extracurricular activities, Marsh is a question mark.
- 4th round selection: Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama Grade: A
Alabama coaches couldn't say enough good things about Norwood, and his pick continues Seattle's trend of drafting to the two areas where they lost free agents: wide receiver and defensive line. Norwood is a great fit for Seattle's style of football, as the Tide often leaned on him in clutch situations. Plus, he's a noted freelancer who's been lauded for his ability to make plays when protection breaks down. This makes him a great complement for the scrambling style of Russell Wilson. He did not put up huge numbers in Alabama, but this is more due to the style of offense they favored. It's possible that on a pass heavy team, Norwood could have been a 2nd or 3rd round pick. A top notch value selection for Seattle.
- 4th round selection: Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB, Boston College Grade: C+
Pierre-Louis was a scouts' favorite. He was given plaudits for his passion for the game and clear love for football. He's small for the LB position in the NFL, he played most of last season in the 220s, but got up to 236 for the draft. Knowing Seattle's love for big safeties, it's not out of the realm of possibility he could be switched to the position. The best case scenario for Pierre-Louis is that he develops into a nickel LB. Seattle is set at the linebacker position with three returning starters. Pierre-Louis' best best to contribute is on special teams. While I like Pierre-Louis as a player, the 4th round seems a bit early to take a player who will probably never start a game for your team. Most boards had him going in the 5th or 6th round. Time will tell if Seattle makes me eat these words.
- 5th round selection: Jimmy Staten, DT, Middle Tennessee State Grade: D+
Yet another "eye of the beholder" choice for Seattle, as many boards had Staten ranked among the top undrafted free agents. Staten was named honorable mention All-Conference USA last season and has improved as his career has gone along. He's been praised for his character and work ethic. Staten was considered a leader in college and excels at defending the run. He has length (6'4") and a thick body, but does not possess elite skills and struggles to get to the QB, only posting 2 sacks in his college career. In time, Staten could develop into a rotational piece on the DL, but it's hard to see why Seattle would use a draft choice for a player who likely would have been available for free.
- 6th round selection: Garrett Scott, OT, Marshall Grade: C+
It's easy to realize what Tom Cable saw in Scott. But again, Scott wasn't even on most boards, so it's hard to rationalize using multiple selections for players who could have been signed off the street. On the plus side, Scott was a durable cog in the Marshall offense and started 35 games at multiple positions. He was named to the All-Conference USA second team last season. Cable probably appreciated his speed, the mean streak he plays with, and his quality pro day workout. On the down side, he's not explosive, does not play to his size and strength (6'5", 307), and regularly gets beaten by the speed rush. While he does show nice recovery when he gets beaten, it's not a great sign for a player to have these struggles against inferior college competition. Where Seattle might benefit is getting him into a situation with consistent coaching. At Marshall, he went through 4 OL coaches in his 4 year career. With a couple of years under the tutelage of Tom Cable, Scott could become a key piece on Seattle's line. I'm just not sure he has the tools to get there.
- 6th round selection: Eric Pinkins, FS, San Diego State Grade: D+
Seattle clearly has a high level of confidence in their current group, as they continue to select players who will be backups and special teams contributors at best. Pinkins is a product of Seattle's clear infatuation with big secondary players. At 6'3", 220, he fits the mold established by Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman. Another player who was not on many boards, he likely made his way into the draft with a solid pro day, running a 4.4 40. If not for his superior size, Pinkins wouldn't have been on anyone's radar. He routinely gets beaten over the top, indicated below average agility at the combine, and has poor ball skills (3 career INTs). Pinkins will have to fight for a spot on special teams just to make the squad.
- 7th round selection: Kiero Small, RB, Arkansas Grade: B+ Small has a compact, bowling ball figure. He projects as a lead blocker at FB and special teams player. He showed skill in the pass blocking game, credibly matching up with CJ Mosley. Small is a strong pass catcher and short yardage runner, who has great leverage and power. It's not hard to see him carving out a role for himself on special teams and in the jumbo package. For a 7th round pick, that is a great value. As more NFL teams devalue the RB (and by association the FB), going the other way could pay great dividends.
Overall draft grade: C+
This is the type of draft that may end up looking good in a few years, but in the short term, the Seahawks did not come out with many players who project to contribute soon. Many of their choices were reaches and if Cassius Marsh washes out, they could be looking at just Richardson and Norwood as potential starters from this draft. It's clear the coaching staff was granted a great deal of trust to take players they liked, rather than go by the draft boards and time will tell if they were right. In the interim, look for Norwood and Richardson to get snaps this season and for Marsh to get the call as a situational pass rusher.