O’Neil: Seahawks’ draft confirms return to formula that won them a title
The Seahawks are going back to the future.
At least that’s their hope.
It’s why they drafted a running back in the first round for the first time in 18 years in yet another effort to find a successor to Marshawn Lynch. And it’s why they followed that up by picking a tight end known for his blocking in the fourth round. After choosing Will Dissly of Washington, general manager John Schneider went so far as to reference Zach Miller as a comparison just to make sure everyone knew that this guy can acquit himself on the line of scrimmage.
The Seahawks aren’t doubling down on their approach to offense so much as they’re doubling back toward the formula that took them to the top of the league. While I have my doubts about the rationale for using a first-round pick on a running back, the one thing that you can’t question is Seattle’s conviction to the approach that coach Pete Carroll spelled out during his first press conference as Seattle’s coach in 2010.
The Seahawks want a physical run game, and they’re ready to burn every resource they have until they build one.
Last year it was cash. The Seahawks doled out $4 million for Eddie Lacy, who unfortunately turned out to be a dried-up husk. And for a little while in September the Seahawks looked like they might have hit the Lotto with their seventh-round pick only to have Chris Carson suffer a broken ankle.
I fully expected the Seahawks to come back this year with Carson, the oft-injured C.J. Prosise and Mike Davis and see which one of those guys would flourish in a rebuilt running game.
Instead, Seattle made Rashaad Penny its most valuable offseason acquisition, choosing him No. 27 overall, and then the Seahawks followed that up by choosing the one tight end in this draft most dissimilar to Jimmy Graham.
While Graham started his college career as a basketball player, Dissly played defensive line. While Graham wanted to be classified as a wide receiver during a contract dispute with the Saints a few years back, Dissly played his first snap of offense in a goal-line package for a bowl game.
If Graham is a gazelle, Dissly is more like a plowhorse. That’s not a criticism. Because compared to Graham, the aforementioned Miller was a plowhorse, too.
Signed as a free agent in 2011, he came to Seattle as one of the best receiving tight ends in the league, having caught more than 55 passes in three of his four seasons in Oakland. But Miller never had so much as 40 catches in any of the four seasons he played in Seattle. All he did was serve as the perfect fit for what Seattle wanted to do. A guy who could be counted on to win at the point of attack, and whose hands were more than sufficient if the defense stopped paying attention to him.
In the 48 games Miller played for Seattle, he caught 102 passes for 1,092 yards. Graham played 43 games for Seattle, catching 170 passes for 2,048 yards. And while Graham was the most prolific receiving tight end in Seattle history, he wasn’t a great fit. Not like Miller was, and not like Dissly could be.
And if all that fails to jump-start Seattle’s ground game, well, at least they’ve got a young punter. They even traded up in the fifth round to make sure they got the one they wanted: Michael Dickson, an Australian from Texas. Wait. That sounds weird. He’s Australian, and he played football at Texas, entering the draft with one year of eligibility remaining.
All part of a ball-control approach that shows the Seahawks don’t want to be kicking themselves over the lack of a run game this time next year.