Seahawks draft grade: Incomplete

May 2, 2011, 7:35 AM | Updated: 5:22 pm
The Seahawks traded out of the second round and drafted Wisconsin guard John Moffitt with the 75th overall pick. (AP)

By Brock Huard

A year ago, John Schneider and Pete Carroll were the toast of the town. The Hawks’ 2010 draft was at the top of the class, and consensus was Russell Okung and Earl Thomas would be difference-making starters and Golden Tate a steal as the 60th overall pick in the second round.

Today, Mel Kiper hands out his lowest post-draft grade to the Hawks, and most pundits grade the 2011 effort anywhere from a B-minus to a D/D-plus.

What happened?

First off, there is a dramatic difference in drafting six, 14 and 60 as the Hawks did a year ago. At six and 14 the talent is rich and the team is not at the mercy of its peers too often. With the high picks, a team is almost guaranteed that the top talent by position on their draft day board will still be available when they select.

Secondly, the team has quite a bit of leverage in the trade-down game. What we learned this year is that pick No. 25 is a whole different ballgame. The top offensive linemen (Mike Pouncey, Nate Solder, Anthony Castanzo) were off the board, and the Hawks desperately wanted to trade down. The challenge was finding a trade partner, and when they couldn’t, they drafted a player in James Carpenter they could have gotten later in the draft, presumably somewhere in the second round.

The “value” conversation continued throughout the draft with the Seahawks. Todd McShay, Trent Dilfer and Kiper continued to beat the drum of over-payment for many of the Hawks’ draft picks. I will not pretend to know every player in this draft, nor do I know where all these players stand in the market. But the three aforementioned analysts spend thousands of hours a year studying the matter, and when comparing the Seahawks’ moves to the other teams’, value was consistently questioned.

My grade is incomplete, and the reasons are more than value-related:

1. No quarterback. This is a real concern and when asked why the Hawks didn’t draft a young quarterback, Schneider told Mike Sando of ESPN, “We had a plan going in and we still have our plan, we just can’t execute that plan right now.”

North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates was still available when the Seahawks selected a wide receiver in the fourth round. (AP)

I thought that plan meant drafting young quarterbacks, the Ron Wolf philosophy. The Packers drafted Mark Brunell, Matt Hasselbeck and Aaron Brooks all while Brett Favre was the starter. They utilized those mid-to late-round picks to find a QB to enhance the competition of the QB room, and they became trade chips later.

WR Kris Durham in the fourth round over Ricky Stanzi or T.J. Yates? With Charlie Whitehust as the only QB on this roster, I was really surprised to not see a young gun drafted, and now the pressure is on to add to the QB room. Carson Palmer, Brian Hoyer, Kevin Kolb, Matt Hasselbeck, what is the “plan” and how will the position be upgraded? This is a major concern.

2. No home run hitters. I like big linemen, and I didn’t mind the first two picks on offensive linemen. However, this team needs more home run hitters on offense. The fourth round receiver, Durham, scored just four touchdowns his entire collegiate career, and he is the only offensive player the Hawks drafted who can legally catch the ball.

I would have loved to see a D.J. Williams out of Arkansas in the fifth round, a change of pace TE/H-Back that can create mismatches. Like the QB position, the “plan” in free agency has to include some game-changers at TE/WR who have the ability to score touchdowns and hit the home run. That said, those players can be hard to find and tend to be very pricey in free agency.

3. Size and Strength. On the positive side, the Seahawks got bigger and stronger in this draft. I had the opportunity to see seven of the Hawks’ nine picks in action, and the one trait that each player possesses is “physical.”

K.J. Wright was a difference-maker at Mississippi State and will be very versatile in Carroll’s scheme. Richard Sherman, the Stanford CB, is a converted WR with a 50-foot triple jump, tremendous range and length. Byron Maxwell, the Clemson CB, was one of the Tigers’ best special teams tacklers in the program’s history and played in over 50 consecutive games. Malcolm Smith, the USC linebacker, is the brother of NY Giants WR Steve Smith, and is incredibly athletic for a linebacker.

There is a lot to like with the football DNA in many of the prospects, and it will be up to Carroll and his staff to make contributors of these third day draft picks.

The Seahawks took some risks, reached and stretched at times, and must have OT James Carpenter and third round pick OG John Moffitt contribute immediately on the offensive line. If they can be productive starters and the Hawks hit on a few of their third day draftees, this won’t be a D-plus draft class.

However, my grade is incomplete because I think this draft really narrowed the margin of error for the Hawks in free agency. QB/WR/TE/DT become areas of need, and in the case of DT and QB, hugely critical to this team’s chance of continuing to move forward.

The plan was to trade down last Thursday, and unfortunately, that didn’t materialize. The “plan” now has to be getting the right QB via trade or free agency. Failure is not an option, not when Charlie Whitehurst is your only QB under contract.

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Seahawks draft grade: Incomplete