By Jim Moore
We always cut slack to Seahawks general manager John Schneider because of what he’s done in previous drafts, especially with his ability to find highly productive players in the later rounds.
He also chose the franchise quarterback, Russell Wilson, in the third round, seeing incredible value that more than compensated for his short stature.
Wide receiver Paul Richardson has enticing speed, but the Seahawks arguably had a bigger need along their offensive line. (AP)
But Schneider has swung and missed with some of his talent evaluations. Before Wilson arrived, he acquired Charlie Whitehurst from San Diego and raved about him. He also signed Tarvaris Jackson in free agency and raved about him, too. Same thing with Matt Flynn.
And as good as he’s been at drafting at almost every other position, Schneider has a spotty track record at wide receiver. In his four previous drafts, the Seahawks selected three wide receivers – Golden Tate in the second round in 2010, Kris Durham in the fourth round in 2011 and Chris Harper in the fourth round in 2013.
He hit with Tate and struck out with Durham and Harper. I bring this up for context as I wonder why the Seahawks drafted Paul Richardson from Colorado and Kevin Norwood from Alabama over the weekend.
Richardson may be the vertical threat the Seahawks supposedly lack, and Norwood may be the taller wide receiver who converts third downs and produces in the red zone. Plus I normally like the idea of taking the best athlete available regardless of position.
But am I missing something? Did the Seahawks need another receiver?
Didn’t they re-sign Sidney Rice? Isn’t he a tall receiver? I know they lost Tate to Detroit in free agency, but don’t they already have a pretty solid receiving corps with Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Ricardo Lockette and Rice?
More questions: Aren’t they a run-first team? And this buzz-phrase of “taking the top off” with Richardson, don’t you already have a take-the-top-off receiver in Harvin?
Here’s what else keeps coming back to me, a stat that I saw on ESPN’s broadcast of the draft: Atlanta’s Matt Ryan was pressured 203 times last year, most of any quarterback in the league. Know who was second? Wilson at 183.
Imagine how much more effective Wilson would be if that number were reduced. And to reduce that number, don’t you need better blocking? If Wilson gets more time to throw, he’ll be more productive. If he doesn’t have time to throw, it doesn’t matter how open Richardson is — he won’t be able to get the ball to him, or he might not even see him at all. Plus it stands to reason that Wilson has a better chance to stay healthy if he’s not running for his life.
So I don’t get the picks of Richardson and Norwood. They addressed offensive-line concerns by drafting Missouri’s Justin Britt later in the second round, and Britt will compete for the starting right-tackle job with Michael Bowie. They also took Marshall’s Garrett Scott in the sixth round, and he’s projected as a backup left tackle.
The Seahawks’ biggest apparent need heading into the draft was at left guard, where James Carpenter is expected to start, but he always gets mixed reviews. This is a guy who was drafted to start at right tackle but wasn’t good enough so they moved him inside.
You could argue they would’ve been better off taking the best guard available at No. 32 before they traded the pick to Minnesota. I’d also argue they could’ve taken more offensive linemen and simply improved their odds of having one or two make an immediate impact.
The Seahawks lost two veteran linemen in free agency – Breno Giacomini and Paul McQuistan – heightening the need for help, but it may tell you how strongly they feel about Bowie, Carpenter and Alvin Bailey.
If you tell me Richardson can return punts and will have five 40-yard touchdown catches this year, great. And if his speed creates more opportunities for other receivers underneath, great. Plus if Rice and Baldwin leave after the 2014 season, it will be nice to groom Richardson and Norwood and have them ready to go in 2015.
But if you’re asking me for a knee-jerk reaction to picking two receivers on a run-first team that lacks reliable starters and depth on the offensive line, I’d say the Seahawks made a mistake.
The Go 2 Guy also writes for Seattlepi.com and KitsapSun.com. You can reach Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.