By Liz Mathews
The grades are in for the 2012 NFL draft. Here’s a look at what a few of the analysts around the league are saying about the Seahawks.
Summary: Let’s be clear: I think the Seahawks drafted guys they really wanted, and with a plan in mind for how to use them. They moved down once, and may have gotten worried that someone would take Bruce Irvin late in the first round if they didn’t get him at No. 15. Again, you have to find the right dance partner to move around the board. But we’re still talking about a player I had a late second-round grade on. I wouldn’t be surprised if Irvin gets 10 sacks in 2012, but that’s really his game. He’s not a three-down player yet. Bobby Wagner fills a need at linebacker, but he’s another guy who would have been around later on. Russell Wilson is a great test case for shorter QBs, because he has everything else, but did they need him in the third round after grabbing Matt Flynn to come in and likely start? I had running back as a need, and Robert Turbin could help out. The needs were met outside of wide receiver, but in terms of maximizing value, there are huge questions. Again, this is a grade of the draft process, not the players alone.
The Seahawks pulled one of the real shockers of the first round with the selection of passing rushing specialist Bruce Irvin at No. 12 overall. At 6-3, 242 pounds, Irvin is too small to be a traditional 4-3 defensive end but in head coach Pete Carroll’s scheme, size isn’t as important as speed for the right defensive end (or LEO) position and Irvin certainly has that. Drafting a specialist at No. 15 is a stretch but despite boasting a very good defense on first and second down a year ago, Seattle’s lack of pass rush has killed them in recent years. Few will call Irvin’s pick a reach a year from now if he ranks among the rookie leaders in sacks. Second round pick Bobby Wagner’s versatility and reliable open-field tackling skills could earn him a spot in the starting lineup as a rookie. General manager John Schneider and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell loved Russell Wilson’s instincts and ignored concerns about his height to make him another surprising Seahawks’ pick in the third round. The more immediate impact will be made by Seattle’s pair of fourth round picks — running back Robert Turbin, whose power, surprising speed and reliable pass-blocking could make him a valuable backup to star Marshawn Lynch and potentially defensive tackle Jaye Howard, who was coached by former Seahawks’ defensive line coach Dan Quinn at Florida. Fifth-round project Korey Toomer (Idaho) and former Kentucky standout Winston Guy are also intriguing third-day picks.
Best pick: Second-round linebacker Bobby Wagner is an athletic kid who should push for a starting job right away. He is a Pete Carroll-type of LB. Questionable move: Their first pick, taking defensive end Bruce Irvin. He had some character issues and some scouts think he doesn’t play hard enough. He can rush the passer, so the attraction is obvious. Risky. Third-day gem: Defensive tackle Jaye Howard, their second fourth-round pick, is a good player. He will come in and win a spot in the rotation as a rookie. Analysis: They made a questionable move at the top with Irvin, bounced back by taking Wagner, but then took Russell Wilson in the third when they just signed Matt Flynn. Why? They did some good things on the final day, but Irvin is the key.
Overview: It’s popular to pan the Seahawks’ draft. While we’re not giving them an “A,” the 2012 Seattle picks are largely understandable and hardly “mindboggling” as Mel Kiper’s hair has claimed. No. 15 is early for a situational pass rusher, but no defender in this class has a quicker first step than Irvin. Wagner is a thumper and addresses a need. Wilson is going to make Tarvaris Jackson expendable. Turbin adds physicality to a backfield lacking it behind Marshawn Lynch. Howard, Toomer, and Guy can be year-one role players. Lane, Sweezy, and Scruggs are under-the-radar picks. Realistically, the Seahawks didn’t overdraft anyone on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, and they consistently kept in mind need. It’s a better group than people are saying.
Coach Pete Carroll is hoping Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson (75th overall pick) develops into Drew Brees. The knock on Wilson is his height; he’s only 5-foot-10, a tad shorter than the 6-foot Brees. But he can throw a deep ball, is very athletic and off-the-charts in the locker room. He can be a great leader. Obviously, he’s going to push Tarvaris Jackson because the Seahawks have put a lot of money in ex-Green Bay quarterback Matt Flynn’s pocket. … Their entire draft was one shocker after another. In the first round, they took West Virginia’s Bruce Irvin, who was off a lot of boards because of his arrest last month on a vandalism charge. But Irvin does have tons of ability and, like Carroll said, might be the best pass rusher in this draft. … Utah State linebacker Bobby Wagner could fill the void of leading tackler David Hawthorne. Wagner’s college teammate, running back Robert Turbin, is the “strong dude” Carroll wanted for when Marshawn Lynch takes a breather. … They don’t need much help in the secondary, but took two sixth-round flyers on Jeremy Lane and Winston Guy.