Rost: The Seahawks’ best picks by round under Schneider and Carroll

Apr 18, 2023, 9:33 AM

Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner...

Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner react during a Seahawks-Titans game. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Next week, Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider will enter the NFL draft with the most capital he’s ever owned, beginning with the fifth overall pick.

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How have he and Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll fared in the past? Here are best picks by the pair, by round:

1st round

Best: Earl Thomas

Thomas was first-team All-Pro for three consecutive seasons (2012-2014) and was a seven-time Pro Bowler. He didn’t miss a single start over his first six seasons, during which time he acted as the high-flying, sideline-to-sideline insurance net across the middle of one of the best secondaries in NFL history. His range is part of what allowed Carroll’s Cover-1 and Cover-3 schemes in the Legion of Boom days to function the way it did.

Worst: DL L.J. Collier

Look at some of the Seattle Seahawks’ more dissappointing first-round picks and you’ll see the clear dileanation in talent between the top half and bottom half of the first round. That’s not to say teams haven’t found elite players at pick No. 20 and beyond, but for the entirety of the franchise’s history, higher first-round picks have tended to succeed compared to later ones. Three of Seattle’s five Hall of Famers were selected in the top six (Cortez Kennedy, Kenny Easley, Walter Jones) and four were picked in the top 20 (Steve Hutchinson, 17th overall).

Seattle’s winningest era has also brought later first-round picks (next week’s fifth overall pick is the highest of Schneider’s career). Still, you’d expect a player selected in the first-round to at the very least become a full-time, multi-year starter. Unfortunately for Seattle and L.J. Collier, it didn’t happen with the 29th overall pick out of TCU.

Collier was a starter in just one season (2020) during which he recorded a career-high three sacks. He was inactive 14 times over the course of his tenure. During those four years, there were brief flashes of the player Seattle had hoped to secure, but Collier couldn’t tap into that consistently. Now in his fifth NFL season, he gets a second chance with the Arizona Cardinals. On a personal note, fans might love to see him find success – hopefully it never comes against Seattle, though.

2nd round

Best: LB Bobby Wagner

The Seattle Seahawks have five Hall of Famers right now, but Wagner will eventually add his name to that list.

Wagner is the most decorated of Schneider’s draft picks. He’s a six-time first-team All-Pro and eight-time Pro Bowler, with five of those selections (first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl, combined) coming in consecutive seasons from 2016-2020 – a feat accomplished only by Wagner and Rams’ star Aaron Donald. He led the NFL in tackles twice (2016, 2019) and holds franchise records for career solo tackles (819), career tackles (1,383), tackles in a rookie season (140), and fumbles returned for touchdowns (3).

Now in his second stint with Seattle, Wagner’s got a chance to add even more distance between himself and the rest of the pack.

Honorable mention: WR DK Metcalf is a runner-up here and might take the cake if this were a ranking of the last five years.

Worst: DT Malik McDowell

There are plenty of candidates for “best” and “worst” in each round, but McDowell springs to mind to this day for Seahawks fans concerned about a player’s red flags.

McDowell was considered one of the best defensive linemen in the 2017 NFL Draft, but there were reports pre-dating his selection that aired concerns over poor interviews and issues with work ethic. Still, the Seahawks were swayed enough by his potential to select him with the 35th overall pick, their first of the draft.

McDowell never played a single down for the Seahawks. He was involved in a serious ATV accident in July and was waived the following summer.

3rd round

Best: QB Russell Wilson

Wilson’s first season with Denver was a horror story, but he remains one of the single best draft picks of the Carroll era. With the 75th overall pick, the Hawks chose an undersized passer out of Wisconsin and found something no other team in their division did for a decade: stability at quarterback.

Wilson is a nine-time Pro Bowler. He holds NFL records for most passing yards in a playoff game by a rookie (385) and most fourth-quarter touchdown passes in a season (16), as well as a number of franchise passing records, including career passer rating (101.8) and career rushing yards by a quarterback (4,689).

Worst: WR Amara Darboh

The later you get in the draft, the harder it is to quantify what makes a player “the worst” when the expectations are lower. But I’d say eight career receptions and a single-season of play qualifies here.

You were hoping to see C.J. Prosise? I know he was injury-prone, but he still had more receptions in two seasons (!) than Darboh did for his entire career.

It’s hard to classify any player as a bust when he’s a Day 3 selection, so the following are the best picks by round on the final day:

4th round

Best: LB K.J. Wright

A perrenial Pro Bowl snub! Wright earned the honors just one time in his career (2016) but had a prolific career in Seattle, playing for 10 seasons and racking up 941 tackles and 13.5 sacks. He was one part of one of the league’s best linebacker duos and a celebrated leader in the locker room.

5th round

Best: CB Richard Sherman

You’re not expecting to find All-Pro starters on Day 3, but that’s what Seattle found with a fifth-round pick out of Stanford.

Sherman became the face of the Legion of Boom and one of the league’s most recognizable personalities. He still holds franchise records for most passes defended in a season (24) and is fourth in career interceptions (32).

Honorable mention: SS Kam Chancellor, CB Tariq Woolen

6th round

Best: CB Byron Maxwell

Let’s just throw everyone from the Legion of Boom here. The sixth round was the toughest for Seattle. Their best contributor of the last few years has been running back Travis Homer, who was a special teams stalwart. But Maxwell takes the lead spot for his contributions to Seattle’s best defense, including as a starter during Seattle second trip to a Super Bowl in as many years (2014).

Honorable mention: CB Jeremy Lane, RB Travis Homer

7th round

Best: RB Chris Carson

Just six players were drafted later than Carson over the last decade in Seattle and none of them – go figure – contributed more. He had a powerful, bulldozing running style that could’ve been dreamt up by Carroll himself, and in 2018 became the first player since Marshawn Lynch to rush for 1,000 yards in a season – and then he did it again in 2019.

Honorable mention: LB Malcolm Smith (you’ve gotta include a Super Bowl MVP here), OG J.R. Sweezy

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