The Seattle Seahawks marched into New Jersey and beat one of the best offenses and one of the best quarterbacks in history by 35 points in Super Bowl XLVIII. 43-8. It was complete domination in every aspect of the game. After 72 hours to celebrate and have one crazy parade, it was time to do what the previous 47 winners have all tried to do and what few have actually done. The Seahawks needed to get better.
The Seahawks had a relatively quiet free agent signing period which featured more departures than arrivals. Back were DE Michael Bennett and WR Sidney Rice, but leaving Seattle were OT Breno Giacomini, CB Walter Thurmond, DE Chris Clemons, DT Red Bryant, WR Golden Tate, and others. With few glaring weaknesses and a few holes that needed plugging, General Manager John Schneider, Head Coach Pete Carroll, and the rest of Seattle’s brain trust set about the task of improving the team in a draft considered by most experts to be one of the strongest and deepest on record.
The Seahawks took advantage of several opportunities to trade back in the draft and improve the number of draft picks at their disposal from a meager 5 to a respectable 9. With their 1st pick in the 2nd round, Seattle addressed a weakness immediately.
With game breaker Percy Harvin out for much of the year, Seattle lacked someone who could stretch the field and attack a defense vertically. With the 45th pick in the draft, the Seahawks selected WR Paul Richardson out of Colorado. Richardson brings incredible athleticism, 4.33 speed, and a penchant for the big play. He averaged an amazing 41.8 yards per play on his 20 career touchdowns. With veteran WR teammates like Harvin, Rice, Doug Baldwin, and Jermaine Kearse in place, Richardson will have to work hard to see the field, but the potential is clear. QB Russell Wilson has a burner who can go get the deep ball which also opens things up underneath for the others.
With the 64th pick at the end of the 2nd round, the Seahawks selected a player who probably has the best chance to step in and start right away. Justin Britt, an OT from Missouri stands 6’6″ and weighs in at 325 pounds. Britt, described as being a high energy player, is expected to challenge for the starting RT spot vacated by Giacomini.
With no picks in the 3rd round, Seattle addressed depth issues with their three 4th round picks. With Clemons and Bryant defecting, the Seahawks shored up the defensive line with Cassius Marsh, a DE from UCLA. Marsh is considered something of a “tweener”, but so was Cliff Avril. How is he working out?
Next Seattle went with another WR, 6’2″ Kevin Norwood out of Alabama. Noted as a quick route runner with good hands, Norwood also comes to the NFL with a winner’s mentality developed while helping the Crimson Tide to a national championship. Norwood brings the total number of WRs in camp to 12, making it one of the more interesting posisiton battles to watch leading up to the season.
Seattle’s 3rd pick of the 4th round was a multi-sport athlete from Boston College, Kevin Pierre-Louis. Pierre-Louis, in addition to being a productive LB at 6’0″ and 232, also played basketball and lacrosse at BC and figures to have an opportunity to make this team as a special teams player.
The Seahawks next 2 picks continued to address depth along both the offensive and defensive lines with DT Jimmy Staten out of Middle Tennessee State and OT Garrett Scott from Marshall. Staten is considered a good “character” guy with great strength. Scott, however, was waived last week because a rare heart condition resulted in a failed physical.
Eric Pinkins, a FS at San Diego State is projected as a CB in the NFL. This 6th round pick for Seattle has an opportunity to learn the new position while helping out as a special teamer or a practice squad player. His size (6’3″, 220lbs) will get him a long look at camp.
The team’s 9th and final pick, 7th round FB Kiero Small out of Arkansas is considered a good blocking back. His best chance of making the Seahawks is as a special teamer, but with the departure of FB Michael Robinson, a good camp could change that.
With an already deep, talented, and youthful roster fresh off a Super Bowl win, these young men will all be hard pressed to make the team as starters or regular contributors. Richardson and Britt top the list of Seahawk rookies to watch. Richardson should contribute immediately in 3 and 4 WR sets while Britt has a legitimate chance to start at RT immediately.
Most draft “experts” gave the Seahawks a draft grade of C or worse. Given the history of Schneider and Carroll in the later rounds of the draft, it is very likely that one or more of these guys will end up in the Pro Bowl one day. Time will tell.