BY Art Thiel 09:31PM 04/30/2011

Thiel: Jake good, Roger bad, Seahawks surprising

The first night of the NFL Draft delivers twists for Seattle

The first night of the NFL draft was an odd on for those with Seattle connections. / Chris Trotman, Getty Images

RENTON — Nobody had a better NFL draft than Jake Locker.

Everybody had a better draft than Roger Goodell.

The Seahawks? Hmm . . .

The Huskies’ hometown hero rallied his market value in the postseason past all expectations, to the first round’s eighth pick, by Tennessee, where the incumbent is 38-year-old Kerry Collins.

Goodell, the NFL commissioner who was battered by a judge into lifting the lockout hours before the draft Thursday, was booed lustily and frequently by the crowd in New York’s Radio City Music Hall, adding further embarrassment to an already galling after-season of labor controversy that was pointless from the start.

And the Seahawks, thwarted in their desire to trade down from the No. 25 pick in the first round, went for the inevitably unsexy but necessary choice of offensive lineman, then took a guy who himself believed was second-round material.

“I didn’t think it would be this early,” James Carpenter told a roomful of reporters by phone at Seahawks headquarters Thursday night. Neither did most self-proclaimed draft experts.

Naturally, coach Pete Carroll was effusive over the pick (and yes, Carroll is effusive over vegetables at dinner): “Quite frankly, our highest-rated guy came to us. He’s tough, nasty, aggressive . . . we want to change the culture to a tougher team.”

As to the question of whether Carpenter constitutes a reach, GM John Schneider said, “Fans should take reassurance that we’ve been busting our tails since May on covering this guy. He never changed.”

Carpenter is certainly big enough (6-4, 321 pounds), and pedigreed enough (all-SEC at Alabama) to start at right tackle, a job Carroll handed him in the presser after the first round ended. The mass speculation had him available in the second round.

Carpenter’s NFL stock rose at the Senior Bowl in January, where pro coaches had him work at left tackle, his primary college position, left guard and right tackle, the latter seemingly his likely place in a Seahawks line that in 2010 was so devastated by injuries that Schneider was pulling guys off the street to suit up.

Wrote NFL.com analyst Pat Kirwin from the Senior Bowl: “Expectations coming in were that of a fourth-round-type player, but his execution and athletic ability were better than anticipated. Guys like Carpenter need to put back-to-back days together to keep pushing their stock up.

“Carpenter has an athletic body and the feet to play on the left side. He also shows effort and results as a run blocker. One GM I was standing with called him ‘impressive’ with a smile on his face, which told me Carpenter’s moving up. Carpenter plays with enough effort to make it in the NFL.”

Don’t know whether that GM was Schneider. He did allow as to how the Seahawks were working the phones through the entire 10-minute allotment prior to the pick to trade down for more picks. He said there were two deals that went away, and another from which the Seahawks walked away.

Nothing wrong with that, but it does give pause to the longtime Seahawks fan who has grown weary over less-than-average first-round picks. Even though the regimes were different, Seahawks fans can’t help but recall other first-round disappointments such as defensive end Lawrence Jackson, cornerback Kelly Jennings, center Chris Spencer and D-lineman Marcus Tubbs.

After scoring well in the first round of the draft last season with left tackle Russell Okung (No. 6) and cornerback Earl Thomas (No. 14), the Carroll regime was unlikely to make a splash at 25, particularly after stating publicly that they were eager to trade down for more picks in the six rounds Friday and Saturday.

Local draft expert Rob Rang of Nfldraftscout.com had Carpenter going 31st to Pittsburgh, so at least one opinion wasn’t far from the Seahawks.

“(The pick) is not as exciting as a flashy wide receiver,” Carroll said. “But we need hard-nosed tough guys.”

Carroll used the word “tough” so many times referring to Carpenter that he was asked to explain it.

“Imposing his will,” he said. “There’s no better way to exemplify it than showing it up front.”

For a team that finished 31st in the 32-team NFL in total rushing yards (29th in yards per carry), it really didn’t matter that the Seahawks somehow won a division title. When the O-line wasn’t injured, it was soft, and when it wasn’t soft, it was confused. That, apparently, is not the case with Carpenter.

Told that one TV draft analyst described Carpenter as a “finesse left tackle,” the Seahawks’ new assistant head coach, Tom Cable, resisted a snarl. He did say, “I wouldn’t have drafted him if he were a finesse left tackle.”

For the Seahawks, who had fanciful thoughts of filling a hole at quarterback, the selection of Carpenter represents no flash and all gnash. But when a team can’t run the ball, it has to rely on the worst division in the history of pro football to advance the cause.

That isn’t happening again.

Locker will be the king of Tennessee, and good for him. Carpenter will be among the princes charged with getting a first down from third-and-2 on a rushing play, a rare and wondrous thing in Seattle.


YourThoughts

  • Martin B,

    Never heard of him, but it shows there are a lot of great athletes to choose from in Alabama. I mean, even his coach look surprised, but they put 4, yes FOUR Alabama players into the 1st round.
    Why weren’t they in the National Championship game?
    Anyway, I am sure Carroll and staff did a ton of homework on this dude and he’ll be great.
    Carolina made a huge mistake, as you could tell from the crowd. And they don’t have a 1st round pick next year, so this could be just rearranging the chairs on the Titanic. I men, the kid has played 13 Div 1 games, went to Auburn for 1 quarter, and is known to have huge character issues. Though arrogant, I felt sorry for him with all the boos. MAJOR MISTAKE…

    As for Locker, I’ve been blogging him as a TOP 10 for 2 years now – never doubted that. Mel Kiper and the other self-proclaimed draft experts looked like idiots yet once again.

    Watching the NFL Network guys trying to figure out what to say once we got to pick 6 and things went completely against the ‘options’ documents they were reading was hilarious. I mean, Michael Irving has alwasys been illiterate and just plain stupid, but this made it worse.
    Marshall Faulk could at least go with the flow, but it seemed like complete chaos.

    One last thing: What is up with these black college players, with little money (we are told), wearing the gaudy watches that weight as much as a dumbell, and in Armani suits? Man, just seeing this before they even join a team tells me they will be just a joy to coach.

    Contrast this with the firefighter kid and then Locker in his t-shirt. Such a difference.

    • Michael Kaiser

      “One last thing: What is up with these black college players, with little money (we are told), wearing the gaudy watches that weight as much as a dumbell, and in Armani suits? Man, just seeing this before they even join a team tells me they will be just a joy to coach.”

      Are you for real?

    • randy

      So it’s just the black players, not the white ones?

      Also, you do understand that since these guys have all been done with college and have agents, it is the agents that are paying for all of this as it just comes out of the players future earnings. Really, this “phenomenon” has been going on for quite some time as well.

    • Richard1

      Black people love to show off, it’s in their nature. That’s why they would rather wash there cars and put rims on them than fill up the tank and use a/c. That’s why you always see them pushing the car to the gas station. What do you call a town in USA filled with Asians? China town. What do you call a town in USA filled with Italians? Little Italy. What do you call a town in the USA filled with black people? The ghetto! It isn’t racism. It’s cold hard facts, get over it. Asians love rice, do they et mad when you tell them that…. Mexicans love tapatio and coronas/budlight, do they get mad when you tell them that? Whites love steak and potatoes, do they get mad if you tell them that… Now if you tell a black person they like chicken and lemonade. Watch out!!!

  • Mind of no mind

    I don’t think it’s fair to call Marcus Tubbs a first-round disappointment. It was injury that derailed his career, not lack of talent. Personally, I blame the loss of Tubbs as being more of a reason that we did not get back to the Superbowl than the loss of Hutch, although both were big blows.

  • James Bray

    @Martin B.
    Could you please elaborate on your comments about black players? On a surface level, it comes off as racist.
    Oh, and that firefighter kid is a 27 year-old rookie.

  • Jeff

    The reason they have Armani suits and Gaudy watches is advertisement.. they have not paid for them YET.. the people/places they get them from know they are going to be 1st round talents and know they will get paid.. so they give them the stuff with IOU’s knowing they will get paid.. Ohh as far as Jake Locker.. if he actually WAS at the draft, he would be wearing an Armani suit as well…

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  • 1coolguy

    Greg McElroy from Alabama was taken @ #208.
    With the huge QB deficit the Hawks have, why NOT take this guy, a proven winner, 6″2″ 220, instead of the throw aways they took before #208?

    He may be the steal of the draft.

  • Bruceb

    I think the simple fact many of us (and especially those of us who have been linemen) have long known is that the Seahawks have only been good when they’ve had enough good-enough linemen, on both sides of the ball. Nothing else for starts or duration really matters as much for any playoff-bound team. Not high-draft QB’s, or LB’s, or receivers and safeties…but linemen.

  • Bruceb

    I think the simple fact many of us (and especially those of us who have been linemen) have long known is that the Seahawks have only been good when they’ve had enough good-enough linemen, on both sides of the ball. Nothing else for starts or duration really matters as much for any playoff-bound team. Not high-draft QB’s, or LB’s, or receivers and safeties…but linemen.

  • Richard1

    Black people love to show off, it’s in their nature. That’s why they would rather wash there cars and put rims on them than fill up the tank and use a/c. That’s why you always see them pushing the car to the gas station. What do you call a town in USA filled with Asians? China town. What do you call a town in USA filled with Italians? Little Italy. What do you call a town in the USA filled with black people? The ghetto! It isn’t racism. It’s cold hard facts, get over it. Asians love rice, do they et mad when you tell them that…. Mexicans love tapatio and coronas/budlight, do they get mad when you tell them that? Whites love steak and potatoes, do they get mad if you tell them that… Now if you tell a black person they like chicken and lemonade. Watch out!!!