By Danny O’Neil
The Seahawks started this year’s draft with six picks, they ended it with nine and over three days the reigning Super Bowl champions answered some questions but created just as many.
Three things we learned:
1. The Seahawks don’t always prefer size on defense.
Yes, strong safety Kam Chancellor could be mistaken for a linebacker and cornerback Richard Sherman would play small forward on a basketball team, but they don’t always err on the side of size. Proof of that came in the form of Kevin Pierre-Louis, the linebacker Seattle drafted with one of its three fourth-round picks. He stands 6 feet and played at 220 pounds as a senior at Boston College, which led to a repeated line of questioning about whether Seattle intended to move Pierre-Louis to safety. Not necessarily, said Seattle’s northeast scout, Todd Brunner, who evaluated Pierre-Louis. Definitely not, said general manager John Schneider. He’s a weakside linebacker, an incredibly athletic one because size isn’t everything. Not for Pierre-Louis. Not for Paul Richardson, the whippet of a receiver who weighed all of 162 pounds at Colorado last season and was Seattle’s second-round choice, the first player the Seahawks drafted this year.
2. They do always require speed.
That’s as true for undersized linebackers as it is for a 310-pound offensive lineman like Garrett Scott from Marshall, whose vertical leap was measured at 33.5 inches and who ran 40 yards in 5.04 seconds at his pro day. “In wet conditions,” Scott added. The size found on Seattle’s roster may vary, but not the speed for that size. It’s there from Richardson’s selection as the fastest wide receiver tested at the scouting combine to Pierre-Louis through Scott’s selection in the sixth round.
3. Seattle isn’t worried about its guards.
Many considered guard to be the team’s top need after the free-agent departure of Paul McQuistan. James Carpenter is the presumptive starter at left guard, and two years removed from knee surgery and a position switch from tackle, the former first-round pick has never quite solidified his hold on a starting slot. Seattle’s starting right guard is J.R. Sweezy, a converted defensive lineman who’s above average in the run game but can be prone to mistakes in pass protection. Yet while Seattle drafted two offensive linemen this weekend, neither projects as an interior player. However, Seattle sees Alvin Bailey as a promising player capable of playing guard, and even Michael Bowie – who started eight games at right tackle last season – could be a guard long-term.
Three things we’re still trying to figure out:
1. Will Sidney Rice wind up making the team?
The Seahawks drafted Richardson in the second round, Kevin Norwood in the fourth and they now have 12 receivers on the roster. They have never kept more than six players at that position on the cut-down to 53, and while Sidney Rice’s return on a one-year contract was heralded as a no-lose proposition, there’s no guarantee he’ll be around. You can write Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse onto the roster in pen as well as Richardson. Add in Norwood, Rice along with Ricardo Lockette, Phil Bates and CFL import Chris Matthews among others and receiver might just be the stiffest competition for a roster spot.
The Seahawks’ 2014 draft class:
|• Round 2: WR Paul Richardson||• Round 2: OT Justin Britt||• Round 4: DE Cassius Marsh||• Round 4: WR Kevin Norwood||• Round 4: OLB Kevin Pierre-Louis
||• Round 5: DT Jimmy Staten
||• Round 6: OT Garrett Scott||• Round 6: DB Eric Pinkins||• Round 7: FB Kiero Small|
2. How much smaller will Seattle’s defensive line be?
The Seahawks will definitely be smaller after the departure of Red Bryant, who signed with Jacksonville after he was released by Seattle. Their fourth-round pick, Cassius Marsh, weighs 255 pounds, which is 70 pounds lighter than Bryant’s listed weight. Now, they’re different players, maybe even different positions, but Seattle’s specs may be changing along the line. The Seahawks still have plenty of big bodies whether it’s Greg Scruggs, who weighs more than 310 pounds coming off knee surgery, or Jesse Williams, whom the Seahawks hope will be able to return after missing last season because of a knee injury. Seattle’s fifth-round pick, Jimmy Staten, weighs 310 pounds and will play defensive tackle so it’s not like the Seahawks will be suddenly skinny, but the defensive line will have a different profile.
3. Which will be better represented in 2014: this year’s draft class or last year’s?
The Seahawks drafted 11 players last year. Seven of them are currently on the roster. Seattle drafted nine players this year, and the free-agent attrition will leave more vacancies on the 53-man roster this time around. But with 2013 draft picks like running back Christine Michael and defensive tackle Jordan Hill expected to make contributions after minimal action as rookies, it will be interesting to see just how many of the nine players Seattle drafted this year will make significant regular-season contributions in 2014.