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Schneider and Carroll have scared off draft critics

By Dave Wyman

A search of the internet the day after the 2013 NFL Draft returns some interesting results: No harsh criticisms of the Seahawks’ draft class.

John Schneider and Pete Carroll have earned the benefit of the doubt after hitting on draft picks that were initially panned by critics. (AP)

After the 2012 draft – one that yielded an offensive rookie-of-the-year candidate (Russell Wilson) and two defensive rookie-of-the-year candidates (Bruce Irvin and Bobby Wagner) – you couldn’t find a grade for the Seahawks’ draft that was above D-plus. This year you can’t find anything below a B-minus. Makes you wonder how sharply they would’ve been criticized for this year’s draft last year.

There weren’t many talking about players like second-round choice Christine Michael, a running back from Texas A&M, or fourth-rounder Chris Harper, a wide receiver from Kansas State. Certainly no one was talking about defensive end/outside linebacker Ty Powell, a seventh-round choice. Powell played his college football at Harding University in Searcy, Ark. where they played teams like Arkansas Tech and Ouachita Baptist. Yes, that Ouachita Baptist … the one located in Arkadelphia, Ark.

There may be two or three draft analysts out there that had Michael as a “steal” or a “great choice” but for the most part, everyone was surprised. As far as surprises go, nothing has changed.

What has changed is the reaction to the Seahawks’ draft by pundits nationally. Instead, draft analysts have chosen to focus on the Seahawks’ trade of their first-round pick for Percy Harvin and the upside of picks like Michael.

That’s what happens when you draft a Richard Sherman in the fifth round and he turns out to be All-Pro after two years. Or Russell Wilson in the third round and he ties Peyton Manning’s rookie touchdown record on a run-heavy team that threw less than any other NFL team. Or Kam Chancellor in the fifth round and he becomes one of the most intimidating safeties in the league.

Instead of criticism, the Hawks have gained benefit of the doubt, and rightfully so. The prevailing sentiment becomes “I can’t wait to see how good these guys become.”

The other phenomenon that takes place is imitation. It’s the highest form of flattery and runs rampant through the NFL. It’s a copy-cat league. When I played for the Hawks, every week head coach Chuck Knox would have our offense running whatever plays worked against our defense. The same goes with personnel decisions. The word around the NFL is that when the Seahawks work out a player, the next day seven other teams show up out of nowhere.

Everyone will be looking for the next Russell Wilson for years to come. My prediction is that will be a long wait. I’d wager the same will be true for Christine Michael someday.

Schneider and Carroll have a very specific skill set in mind when they evaluate talent. Schneider finds the diamonds in the rough and Carroll implements them into their system.

The good news is that this isn’t something that can be duplicated by merely copying the moves that the Seahawks make. It’s more art than science.

My grade for the Hawks’ draft: I can’t wait to see these guys play.