By Brady Henderson
The Seahawks’ first three selections in the 2012 draft were all met with varying degrees of surprise and scrutiny.
Bruce Irvin wasn’t expected to be a first-round pick – let alone the first pass rusher selected. His troubled past and smaller frame invited even more second-guessing.
Some assumed Bobby Wagner, having played at Utah State, wouldn’t be ready to contribute immediately at a position as mentally demanding as middle linebacker.
And Russell Wilson, not quite 5-feet-11 inches, was considered by many to simply be too short to be an effective NFL quarterback.
No one is questioning those selections anymore – not with what each rookie has done through the first 10 weeks of the season.
“If you remember now, we said this may be a class to remember,” coach Pete Carroll told “Brock and Salk” on Monday. “This is a fantastic group.”
Irvin leads all rookies in sacks with seven, which puts him in a tie for the team lead with Chris Clemons. New England’s Chandler Jones, the 21st overall pick, is next among rookies with six.
Carroll said Irvin has had some issues against the run, noting specifically that a technique error led to one of Adrian Peterson’s long runs in Week 9. Those are growing pains the Seahawks can live with assuming he continues to produce as a pass rusher.
Irvin had two sacks Sunday. Carroll noted that one of them was aided by the crowd noise at CenturyLink Field. Five of Irvin’s seven sacks have come at home, the other two coming in a road win over Carolina in Week 5. He then went three weeks without a sack before totaling 2.5 the last two games.
“He’s going to be a very long-term, effective football player for us,” Carroll said. “He’s grown. He’s playing tough. I think he’s over the hump. He was kind of beat down, worn down a little bit a couple weeks ago but he’s coming out of that physically.”
Wagner, Seattle’s second-round pick, leads the team in tackles with 81, fourth-most in the NFL. That total is tied for the second-most among rookies with Tampa Bay’s Lavonte David, who was taken 11 spots after Wagner. Carolina’s Luke Kuechly, the ninth overall pick, ranks third in the NFL with 87 tackles.
Bobby Wagner, the Seahawks’ second-round pick, leads the team with 81 tackles, second-most among rookies. (AP)
Wagner also has two sacks.
He’s had his rookie moments, of course. Carroll mentioned Wagner while talking about how the youth on Seattle’s defense was a factor in some of its struggles over the last month. It’s still been an overall strong rookie season.
Carroll said Wagner played “very well” in Sunday’s win over the Jets. Wagner led the Seahawks with nine tackles.
Wilson, taken in the third round, leads all rookie quarterbacks with 15 touchdown passes, which is tied for 10th-most in the NFL. His 90.5 QB rating is 12th in the league, second only to Washington’s Robert Griffin III (the second overall pick) among rookie quarterbacks.
Wilson ranks 31st with 183 passing yards per game, a product of the Seahawks’ identity as a run-first team and Carroll’s desire to not put too much on his rookie quarterback’s plate. Wilson has only attempted 157 passes, 24th-most in the NFL.
He’s thrown eight interceptions. None of them have come at CenturyLink Field, where Wilson and the Seahawks have been particularly strong. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Wilson is the 21st quarterback since 1960 to win his first five home starts – but the first to do so without throwing an interception. Eleven of Wilson’s 15 touchdowns have been at home.
To review, Seattle’s first three draft picks either lead or rank second among rookies in the statistical category that is perhaps most important for their respective positions.
“I love the fact that we took some chances, everybody scrutinized it and thought we were nuts and now we’re getting great results from our guys because we went with what we really believed,” Carroll said.
“You’ve got to hand so much of it to [GM] John [Schneider] and his guys. They were on it, they knew what they were doing …”