By Brady Henderson
NEW YORK – It’s a safe bet that a number of the reporters in attendance at the final Super Bowl press conference Monday morning hadn’t heard of Malcolm Smith until the night before.
Linebacker Malcolm Smith, the Super Bowl MVP, is one of 30 Seahawks who wasn’t drafted in the first four rounds. (AP)
After all, he was a former seventh-round pick who wasn’t a full-time starter on Seattle’s defense. So hours after Smith was named the game’s MVP, he sat in the press room of a downtown hotel while the league’s commissioner gave a brief overview of his career for those who were unfamiliar.
“A great story,” Roger Goodell called it.
Sure was. The undersized and overlooked linebacker who dropped in the draft took center stage three years later after helping his team win the Super Bowl. But the only thing more remarkable than the route Smith took to that moment was how the best team in the NFL is full of similarly unlikely stories.
Consider this: 30 of the 53 players on Seattle’s roster weren’t drafted in the first four rounds. Nineteen of them weren’t drafted at all.
“Our team is a whole bunch of misfits,” said defensive end Michael Bennett, who was undrafted in 2009, “guys who nobody wanted.”
It’s especially true about Seattle’s defense. The unit that may go down as the best of its generation after allowing the fewest points in consecutive seasons and then outscoring the most prolific offense of all time was built with only two first-round picks.
There are only four on the other side of the ball, where Seattle found its franchise quarterback in the third round and a pair of better-than-average receivers in the undrafted pile. Russell Wilson’s two touchdown passes Sunday were to Jermaine Kearse and Doug Baldwin, which is sort of fitting.
The Seahawks didn’t need to win the Super Bowl to validate the approach coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider took while constructing their roster. Doing so only made it more impressive, especially considering the backgrounds of the players who shined on the biggest stage.
“We have guys all over the roster that played really well who are not high draft picks but really performed at a really high level,” Carroll said Sunday. “That’s because the vision that John had in putting this thing together came through, and these guys believed in getting it done and worked really hard to get here.”
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.