O’Neil: What we learned about the Seahawks from their 3 NFL Draft picks
The expectations can’t be too big for this Seahawks draft class.
Seattle made only three picks after all, tied for the second-fewest draft picks for a team in any NFL draft. Now, that’s not entirely fair. The draft used to be (significantly) longer, ranging from a high of 30 rounds at several different points to having 17 rounds as recently as 1976.
The current seven-round format dates back to 1994. But over the 28 drafts since, there has only been one team that finished the seven rounds with fewer selections than Seattle this year, and that was the 1999 New Orleans team that chose Ricky Williams and… well… that was it. The Saints traded the rest of their picks to position themselves for Williams.
In other words, it could be worse.
But instead of focusing on what the Seahawks didn’t have in this draft, let’s look at what we learned from what they did get:
1. They felt the need, the need for speed.
It wasn’t necessarily a surprise that wide receiver was the first place the Seahawks headed when they finally made a pick, choosing D’Wayne Eskridge out of Western Michigan. David Moore signed with Carolina as an unrestricted free agent after catching 35 passes and scoring six touchdowns last season. Moore was the only Seattle wide receiver other than DK Metcalf or Tyler Lockett to catch more than 15 passes.
Eskridge is 5 feet 9 and was timed finishing the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds when he was tested this year. John Boyle, who covers the team for Seahawks.com, observed that might mean Tyler Lockett is the slowest of Seattle’s top three receivers.
What the selection tells us is that Seattle is insistent upon providing more options under new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, because while Lockett set a franchise record with 100 catches and Metcalf set the mark for receiving yards with 1,303, no other Seahawk caught so much as 40 passes. The Rams – where Waldron worked last year – had five players with more than 40 catches, which might explain the additions of free agent tight end Gerald Everett and now Eskridge.
2. The Seahawks are shrinking their reputation for tall cornerbacks.
Tre Brown is 5 feet 9, his arms measuring 30 3/8 inches. Ten years ago that might have been a dealbreaker when the Seahawks raised eyebrows (and sleeve lengths) by drafting Richard Sherman, signing Brandon Browner and setting a general standard that their cornerbacks should have arms that measured 32 inches.
Brown isn’t breaking the mold himself, but following in a pattern that started with Ugo Amadi two years ago and continued last year when D.J. Reed emerged as a starting cornerback after being claimed from San Francisco before the season started. Coach Pete Carroll admitted that he initially envisioned Reed as more of a slot cornerback because of his height or more specifically the lack thereof.
Don’t worry, the Seahawks still have length at that position. Tre Flowers is 6-3 and offseason additions Ahkello Witherspoon and Pierre Desire are both 6-2, but size is no longer everything at cornerback in Seattle.
3. The Seahawks managed to get bigger on the offensive line.
Honestly wasn’t sure if this was possible given the generally huge size of the line. Duane Brown is the “lightest” of the five projected starters at 315 pounds, Damien Lewis the “shortest” at 6 feet 2. So what does Seattle do with its final draft pick? Trades up to pick Stone Forsythe, a tackle from Florida who is 6-8 and while he weighs 315, I’m going to go ahead and guess he’s going to fill out some as he prepares to play.
That huge size got me thinking back to Carroll’s first season in Seattle when there was friction over whether the Seahawks’ offensive line was too big. Seriously. That happened in 2010, and while I’m one of maybe five people who remembers this, it did cause some consternation.
Seattle acquired an absolutely mountainous tackle named Stacy Andrews from Philadelphia one week before the regular season started. That addition coincided with the resignation of Alex Gibbs, the offensive line coach, who cited burnout. Andrews’ size was conspicuous given Gibbs’ preference for linemen who were smaller and more mobile, and it made everyone wonder whether Andrews’ acquisition was a breaking point for of sorts for Gibbs. Eleven years later, even a tackle as big as Andrews wouldn’t stand out on this line.
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