BY Art Thiel 06:30AM 04/25/2013

Thiel: Seahawks good enough to pass on No. 1

Filling personnel gaps with free agency and a passel of young returnees, GM John Schneider has upgraded the Seahawks to where he can sit out the first round, and smile.

The Seahawks preferred to trade for the known, Percy Harvin, rather than use their No. 1 pick on the unknown. / Sportspress Northwest

As much credit as has been given the Seahawks’ current regime regarding NFL draft picks, it’s also reasonable to say it’s a probably a good thing they traded away the No. 1 draft pick in the Thursday draft. The top end of the pro game’s annual Christmas often has been cruel in Seattle, a pinata filled with as many dung beetles as road graders.

From the first pick in 1976 of Notre Dame defensive tackle and injury-plagued Steve Niehaus (second overall) through 2012, when general manager John Schneider may have out-guessed himself on Alabama’s James Carpenter (once a tackle, now an oft-injured guard), the first round has been disappointing as much as dynamic.

This time around, the Seahawks were so confident in their personnel build-out they they swapped their top pick, 25th overall, as part of the trade with Minnesota that brought WR Percy Harvin. It’s the kind of move a championship-caliber team makes when it can lure a prime-time game-breaker, after having determined its future is right bloody now.

At the moment, the Seahawks are the final NFL team that will make a choice, and it won’t happen until Friday’s second round, when they have the  56th pick overall. How will Schneider sit out the Thursday dance?

“Maybe we’ll just sit around and watch Percy Harvin videos on YouTube,” Schneider said, laughing with reporters recently at team headquarters. He jokes because, for perhaps the first time in club history, there is not a screaming need for a single high-end player to fill a specific position in his first year.

Schneider won’t say such a thing because it sounds too Jim Harbaugh-ish. Truth is, the Seahawks parlayed a breakout year of 12-6, a splendid, inexpensive quarterback, and room under the salary cap to draw premier talent top Seattle for a season that has many thinking it will end in February at the first Super Bowl in New York.

“You get to a certain point in the draft where I think you could kind of take a deep breath,  just feel good about your preparation, and go,” he said. “I think we’re at that point.”

What that translates to is Schneider, with 10 picks over the final six rounds, is presiding over a special-teams cattle call. It’s not that the Seahawks couldn’t use another offensive lineman or outside linebacker, but there’s no particular need that could trump a quality player at another position who tumbled unexpectedly past 55 others into Schneider’s lap. Call it, from the third round a year ago, the Russell Wilson Effect.

Another way to look at it is that at No. 56, there’s a lot less pressure. Schneider’s experience here as well as at Green Bay has given him a few lessons in managing his expectations and judgments.

“There are certain things that you tell yourself – like, if you’re not running a draft:  ‘Man, when I’m running a draft, I’m going to do this,’” he said. “Then the mistakes that we’ve made – or perceived mistakes – have been things where I’m trying something that I probably shouldn’t have.”

A couple of lessons were learned.

“One was comparing a player to another player that we’d had in the past,” he said. “You never know what’s in somebody’s heart, so you can’t do that. The other was just assuming that a player was completely locked away (solid) from a football standpoint, because he’s been productive, squared away and confident. But maybe we didn’t know him as well as we possibly should have.

“That upsets me because we pride ourselves on continuing to ask questions along the way and never feeling like we have somebody locked up, like we know everything about them. Because we continue to learn stuff about these guys in their second, third and fourth years now.”

Even though the choice was on the watch of his predecessor, Tim Ruskell, a prime example of Schneider’s draft anxiety was Aaron Curry, the Seahawks’ first-round pick in 2009, fourth overall. Labeled the draft’s safest, most reliable pick by more than Ruskell, the Wake Forest linebacker never did get it.

Frankly, he seemed neither smart enough nor tough enough for the job. The Seahawks traded him in 2011 to Oakland for low-round draft picks, and he was waived by the Raiders Nov. 20. The Curry bust was among the last straws for Ruskell’s tenure, which helped usher in Schneider and coach Pete Carroll.

The choice of Curry seems like a long time ago, and the Seahawks’ arrival among NFL elites seems abrupt. But it’s been a steady, evolutionary acquisition of players to match a vision that allows Schneider the extraordinary luxury of putting up his feet Thursday and not feeling guilty about it.

Sitting out also gives longtime Seahawks fans a little relief from first-round grief. For those who still need the fix of the familiar Seattle sports anxiety, they can simply move one stadium over. Big supply.


YourThoughts

  • Tim

    seahawks are over rated.

    • Jo Haw

      Tim is a Jag’s fan and is just bitter….hey, you almost got Tebow!

      • Tim

        hahaha. niner fan. sucka

  • SeattleBkr

    Nice article… but what’d you take that photo with your phone?

    • sportspressnw

      Most likely, yes, that picture was taken with a phone.

  • Michael Kaiser

    Someone could also spin this as us having a gimmick quarterback–also a year or two away from oblivion–who had some of the worst passing ratings of any “quarterback” in the league, and that the Seahawks addressed it by bringing in Deon Branch Jr., without the character. Right off the bat I say we need a real quarterback, or we had better win this year, because our 5 10″ quarterback with limited passing skills is going to be fairly quickly checked by the league.

    • Pixeldawg13

      Or, someone could spin this as our having a QB with very good passing skills as well as the ability to escape. As to your slur on Harvin’s character, where do you get that?

      But then–I’ve read your posts before, and always have the salt handy when I see one.

    • 1coolguy

      Wow – are you serious? Wilson has a great arm, is a heck of a scrambler and a very smart QB, especially considering he was a rookie! All the Hawks speak of him as a great leader.
      He tied Manning’s # of TD’s for a 1st year QB and broke the rookie record for passer rating – not to mention taking the Hawks as far as he did in the playoffs.
      So, what are you talking about Michael?

    • http://profiles.google.com/dcrockett17 David Crockett

      Wow. Someone could also spin this as, hands down, the most asinine opinion on the entire internet. If someone were to actually try to spin this I’d reply that no one with even a passing knowledge of football would actually hold this opinion.

    • Jo Haw

      I won’t comment to most of your post because Wilson was statistically the best QB in the league from the Chicago Bears game and on (after Carroll opened up the playbook, so watch this happen from week 1 to the SB), but to say Harvin is a Branch Jr….are we talking about the small guy who played with Brady for many years? The guy who is not as dynamic as Harvin? Or tall, or physically strong? Nice comparison.

  • 1coolguy

    Let’s not forget the Seahawks not having completed the deal for Elway, who was all set to come to Seattle. We had the #2 choice (took Warner) and Baltimore was listening, but the Hawks couldn’t close the deal.

    What a difference in the teams history Elway would have made!

    PS: On ESPN’s 30 30 this week, “Elway to Marino”, Elway talks of almost coming to Seattle as does his agent, Marvin Demhoff.
    John and Pete clearly have the Hawks on a great upward plane that should have the Hawks in great shape for years.
    I’m interested to see if they continue their ways of the past, bringing in over a hundred prospects to select the best. It has proven its’ worth so maybe there will be a few picked up this year that will have an impact. This lessens the importance of the draft, which IMO is a good thing.

  • http://profiles.google.com/dcrockett17 David Crockett

    Nice piece Art.

    No one cares now, but Curry could go down as the most baffling top five pick ever. Draft “busts” are commonplace, but few people bust quite the way he did. At least with Vernon Ghoulston people wondered about his limited college production. He had all the attributes but never dominated in the Big 10.

    By contrast, Curry was *universally* regarded as bust-proof. Certainly, some people questioned his upside but absolutely no one questioned his floor. He was uber-productive after playing four seasons in a pro-style defense, and built like a Greek god to boot. He even excelled in coverage as a college linebacker. He came to Seattle and just couldn’t do squat. It still boggles the mind that he was SOOOO bad.