BY SPNW Staff 10:34AM 04/27/2013

Seahawks Draft 9 More, Including Potential Stud

After selecting two players during the first two days of the NFL draft, the Seahawks added nine more Saturday, topped by Chris Harper, a 6-foot-1, 229-pound wide receiver from Kansas State in the fourth round and 6-foot-3, 323-pound defensive tackle Jesse Williams near the top of the fifth. According to NFL.com’s grading system, Harper projects as an “eventual starter,” while many believe Williams projects as an absolute stud.

The 11 new players include four defensive linemen, two running backs, two offensive linemen, a wide receiver, a tight end and a cornerback.

Following the selection of Harper and Williams, the Seahawks, using a choice obtained from Detroit by trading up (Seattle sent the Lions the 165th and 199th picks), took LSU cornerback Tharold Simon (6-foot-2, 202) 138th overall.

Simon, who is coming off an arrest in Louisiana for disorderly conduct in his hometown on the first night of the draft Thursday, joins the Seahawks as the result of a pick received from Oakland in the Matt Flynn trade last month.

With their own pick in the fifth, 158th overall, the Seahawks went for TE Luke Willson, a 6-foot-5, 221-pounder from Rice University. With their sixth, the Seahawks opted for another running back, LSU’s Spencer Ware, at 194th overall. The Seahawks had four picks in the seventh and final round, two compensatory.

Harper, a high school quarterback, originally enrolled at the University of Oregon after being recruited by Pete Carroll at USC, but suffered an injury. He didn’t get the playing time he wanted and transferred to Kansas State. In 2009, he switched from quarterback to wide receiver.

“I’ve always been natural at catching the ball,” said Harper by teleconference Saturday. “Just learning how to run routes and things like that have become more natural over time. I have only been playing receiver for three years, so I’m still new, but it feels way more natural now than when I first moved.”

Harper had considerable contact with the Seahawks prior to the draft. His selection by the Seahawks didn’t come as much of a surprise.

“I talked to them quite a bit,” he said. “I had a meeting with them. I talked to the scouts a couple of times. I actually had a long meeting with them a couple of days ago. This is definitely one of the places that I had circled and looked at and watched a lot this year, and definitely liked the way they played. It was a really good fit.”

In his senior year, Harper started 13 games and had 58 catches for 857 yards and three touchdowns. His play earned him a Coaches All-Big-12 second-team honor.

NFL scouts like his size/speed combination, but have been critical of a habit of not finishing plays.

Williams, who hails from Australia, is Seattle’s most intriguing pick. He played two seasons at Arizona Western Junior College in Yuma after failing to qualify for enrollment into the University of Hawaii due to poor grades. Then he transferred to Alabama, where he played nose tackle last season — well enough, according to some scouts, that he had first-round potential.

Williams made 37 tackles, 2.5 for loss, and had two sacks. Upside: he has a tremendous motor. Downside, according to some scouts: he lacks quickness and agility to become a force on the pass rush.

Ironically, in NFL.com’s system of grading draftees (see below), Williams was the highest-graded player in the Seahawks’ draft.  Not only that, 12 first-round picks and 26 second-round picks received grades lower than Williams’ 85.5.

Had players been selected in order of their NFL.com grades, Williams would have been selected in the top third of the first round.

Although a number of scouts saw him as a first-round pick, his fall was precipitated in part by a knee injury that required postseason arthroscopic surgery and kept him from running at the NFL combine, plus a lack of experience at the major college level. Williams said Saturday said he didn’t think he was a solid No. 1.

“I knew I was going to have to wait a little bit,” said Williams. “And I waited a little longer than I expected, but I’m just happy to be with a good association and go to a good team and be in a place where I can contribute.”

Williams seemed to agree with the NFL’s assessment that stopping the run is more of a strength for him than rushing the passer.

“Hopefully, in the NFL, I’ll get a bit more of a chance to be a pass rusher,” he said. “I was in the SEC, it’s a pretty run-heavy scheme. I’m looking forward to getting out there and learning from really great coaches and the other players.”

Simon, a wide receiver and cornerback in high school, played in 13 games as a junior for LSU. He’s a big corner at 6-foot-2 and seems to fit with what Seattle does. He had 45 tackles, nine pass breakups and four interceptions. The Seahawks like his playmaking ability.

“I was watching the draft, hoping they would take me,” Simon said of the Seahawks. “I knew they liked me a lot. I was chillin’, just sitting down with my family watching the draft.

“I know exactly how they play. I watched them a lot this year. I like defense, and they had a real good defense. I know they like tall, physical corners, and I’m a tall, physical corner. Get up there and press — I know that’s what they like to do.”

Tight end Willson, who was not invited to the NFL combine in part due to an ankle injury that hampered him in his senior season, ran a 4.57 and 4.46 in the 40 at Rice’s pro day. That would have ranked in the top 10 at the combine.

“I’m kind of a true tight end,” said Willson. “I’m one of those guys where I can be your prototypical tight end in the sense of put your hand down, do a lot of things in the run game, blocking-wise. But if needed, I can go out and catch some passes.”

Ware had his best season at LSU as a sophomore, rushing for 707 yards and seven TDs. As a junior, while working among a stable of running backs, he had 367 yards and one TD. Scouts say he’s an aggressive downhill runner, but lacks overall speed and doesn’t have an extra gear.

The Seahawks made four picks in the seventh round, one with a draft choice obtained from New Orleans, one with their own, and two of the compensatory variety. Seattle received the compensatory picks as the result of losing LB David Hawthorne and QB Charlie Whitehurst in free agency, according to NFL.com.

With the pick from the Saints, the Seahawks took Ryan Seymour, a 6-5, 300-pound guard from Vanderbilt, an ungraded player by NFL.com. With their own choice, 231st overall, Seattle selected 6-foot-2, 249-pound DE Ty Powell of Harding, a small Division II school in Louisiana. Powell is considered a developmental player with some pass-rushing skills.

Seattle’s final two picks, both compensatory, were DT Jared Smith of New Hampshire and OT Michael Bowie of Northeast Oklahoma State. According to their draft grades (or lack of same), neither figure to stick in the NFL.

Seattle Seahawks 2013 Draft Choices

Rnd (Overall) Player College Pos. Ht. Wt. Grade
2. (62) Christine Michael Texas A&M RB 5-10 220 71.4
3. (87) Jordan Hill Penn State DT 6-1 303 64.6
4. (123) Chris Harper Kansas St. WR 6-1 229 68.0
5. (137) Jesse Williams Alabama DT 6-3 323 85.5
5. (138) Tharold Simon LSU CB 6-2 202 70.0
5. (158) Luke Willson Rice TE 6-5 221 NA
6. (194) Spencer Ware LSU RB 5-10 228 59.0
7. (220) Ryan Seymour Vanderbilt OG 6-5 300 NA
7. (231) Ty Powell LSU DE 6-2 249 68.0
7. (241) Jared Smith N. Hampshire DT 6-3 302 52.1
7. (242) Michael Bowie NE Okla. St. OT 6-5 330 NA

Grade (NFL.com): 96-100 — Future Hall of Famer; 85-95 — Immediate starter; 70-84 — Eventual starter; 50-69 — Draftable player; 20-49 — Free Agent.

Pac-12 Draft Choices

The following players from Pac-12 Conference schools were selected in the 2013 NFL Draft. Washington’s Desmond Trufant, a cornerback, was the only UW player chosen (UW’s initial first-round pick since Jake Locker went No. 8 overall to Tennessee in 2011), and WR Marquess Wilson, formerly of Washington State, went in the seventh round to the Chicago Bears. WSU coach Mike Leach tossed Wilson off the squad at midseason last year for a variety of indiscretions, including failure to complete a practice session.

First Round (5) — DE Deon Jordan, Oregon (3, Miami); DT Star Lotulelei, Utah (14, Carolina); OG Kyle Long, Oregon (20, Chicago); CB Desmond Trufant, Washington (22, Atlanta); DE Datone Jones, UCLA (26, Green Bay).

Second Round (3) — TE Zach Ertz, Stanford (35, Philadelphia); WR Robert Woods, USC (41, Buffalo); LB Kiko Alonso, Oregon (46, Buffalo).

Third Round (3) — FS T.J. McDonald, USC (71, St. Louis); WR Keenan Allen, California (76, San Diego); WR Markus Wheaton, Oregon State (79, Pittsburgh).

Fourth Round (5) — QB Matt Barkley, USC (98, Philadelphia); C Brian Schwenke, California (107, Tennessee); OT David Bakhtiari, Colorado (109, Green Bay); C Khaled Holmes, USC (121, Indianapolis); RB Jonathan Franklin, UCLA (125, Green Bay).

Fifth Round (3) — RB Stephan Taylor, Stanford (140, St. Louis); CB Steve Williams, California (145, San Diego); P Jeff Locke, UCLA (155, Minnesota).

Sixth Round (4) — TE Nick Kasa, Colorado (172, Raiders); RB Kenjon Barner, Oregon (812, Carolina); LB John Boyett, Oregon (193, Green Bay); OG Jeff Baca, UCLA (196, Minnesota).

Seventh Round (4) — DE Joe Kruger, Utah (212, Philadelphia); CB Jordan Poyer, Oregon State (218, Philadelphia); WR Marquess Wilson, Washington State (236, Chicago); CB Marc Anthony, California (247, Baltimore).


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