Moore’s NFL Draft recap: The best and worst picks by Seahawks
It’s funny when people who don’t know what they’re talking about grade NFL drafts, and I’m not really criticizing them for two reasons:
1) I enjoy reading their reports, and it’s just their first impression. They could be right or wrong, just like the general managers who made the picks.
2) I don’t know what I’m talking about either, so where would I get off ripping them, and here I am writing about my thoughts on the Seahawks’ draft.
As much as I like Mel Kiper, ESPN’s supposed draft expert, he gave the Seahawks a failing grade on the 2012 draft that produced Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner and Bruce Irvin. That wasn’t a swing and a miss as much as a called strike three.
Frank Schwab, who writes for the NFL Yahoo blog called Shutdown Corner, is the biggest critic this year. Schwab gave the Seahawks an F, wondering what GM John Schneider was doing. Schwab said he was stunned by the Seahawks’ approach, emphasizing the run game in a pass-first league, particularly since they have one of the premier QBs in Russell Wilson. Schwab could not believe they took a punter (Michael Dickson) before an offensive lineman.
Again, I’m not going to give Schwab a hard time. It’s his opinion. Here’s mine. It’s a little different than his. I’d give the Seahawks a B+, maybe even an A- for their draft. This is bad news given my track record with predictions. If I think something is good, it’s usually bad and vice-versa.
And I admit to being strangely swayed in the positive direction by their choice of a punter in the fifth round. I mean, they actually picked a punter, and not only did they pick a punter, they traded up to pick a punter. I’m guessing they were concerned that the Raiders would pick Dickson if they didn’t after Jon Gruden cut outspoken punter Marquette King, who ended up in Denver.
In hindsight, it made sense. The Seahawks have a punter in Jon Ryan, who faded a bit last year, enough to warrant questions given his salary. By cutting him, the Seahawks would save $5 million against the salary cap the next two years. For some odd reason, coach Pete Carroll said that Dickson and Ryan will compete for the job, but everyone knows it’s suddenly Dickson’s job to lose. If it were me, I’d cut Ryan now to give him more time to find another team. Like what, you’re going to pick a punter in the fifth round and not have him be your punter come September?
Especially this punter. I could write or talk about this kid all day long. From what I’ve read and seen in Michael Dickson punter highlights, he’s the best punter to come out of college in years if not decades. Let me ask you something: when was the last time a punter thought he was good enough to declare early for the NFL draft? That was the case with Dickson, a junior from Texas.
Want some fun facts about him? Sure you do. Pro Football Focus gave him the highest grade ever given to a punter, and they’ve been grading punters for four years now. PFF called him “the Aaron Donald of college punters.” He led the country in average net yards (44.2 per punt) and had 42 punts downed inside the 20-yard line. Dickson is from Sydney and credits Australian Rules Football from his high-school days for being so successful and downing punts inside the 20.
It fits with the Seahawks’ run-first philosophy, needing a consistent punter who can help with field position, either pinning an opponent deep or hitting bombs that can make up for three-and-outs. Dickson’s longest punt in a game was 76 yards, and I’m guessing he’s hit some 80 and 85-yarders in practice.
First-rounder Rashaad Penny was the next-best pick, narrowly edging fifth-rounder Shaquem Griffin. I understand that most of the draftniks liked a few other running backs more than Penny, and I also thought the Seahawks had a decent-enough group of running backs with Chris Carson, Mike Davis, J.D. McKissic and C.J. Prosise. I’ve always thought it was more about the lack of blocking than lack of good running backs, but clearly the Seahawks felt the need to upgrade at that position. It also tells me they’re not convinced that Carson will seamlessly return from a broken leg to be the No. 1 back even though he gave us some nice glimpses in his abbreviated rookie season.
John Clayton of 710 ESPN Seattle does not think that Penny will start right away, but I disagree. If you’re a running back who is drafted in the first round, you’re expected to be the guy right away. I’d bet with both hands that Penny will get the first carry in the first game against Denver, but the Professor knows of what he speaks more than I do.
In the third round, the Seahawks picked up a pass-rusher in Rasheem Green from USC, a defensive lineman who was second in the Pac-12 last year with 10 sacks. Know who was first? Hercules Mata’afa, a Coug who went curiously undrafted but signed a contract with Minnesota.
I couldn’t tell you a thing about Green’s potential, but I can give you odds on his future. Pull out a coin and flip it. Green has a 50-50 chance at best of being a big-time contributor and starter but could just as easily be a washout. I say this because of the Seahawks’ history with third-round picks. Since 2010 when Schneider and Carroll came to town, they’ve made 11 third-round picks, and by my count, only four could be called successful selections: Wilson in 2012, Tyler Lockett in 2015 and Shaquill Griffin and Naz Jones in 2017. You could say that Nick Vannett, Rees Odhiambo and Prosise (2016) are in the wait-and-see phase of their careers as well as Delano Hill and Amara Darboh (2017).
More than the sentimental story with Griffin as the first player to be drafted with one hand in NFL history, I like when the Seahawks selected him, in the fifth round, making him a value pick. If they’d drafted him in the third or fourth round, it would have been too high, and the Seahawks would have been questioned for caving to the heart-warming aspect of Griffin’s inspiring story. Not in the fifth round. The way this kid played at Central Florida and measured out at the combine leads you to think he would have been drafted much earlier if he had both hands. Griffin is the newest insurance policy at weakside linebacker in case K.J. Wright were to leave after his contract expires at the end of the 2018 season.
Tight end Will Dissly of Washington was the Seahawks’ worst pick. I’m not writing this because I’m a Coug who routinely trashes on all things purple and gold, I just don’t think they necessarily needed Dissly when they already signed Ed Dickson, who was said to be the best blocking free-agent tight end. And it tells me they don’t think Vannett is any great shakes because if he was, they wouldn’t have picked Dissly in the fourth round. I do like that Dissly was considered the best blocking tight end in the draft, which gives them two best-blocking guys after letting a worst-blocking guy in Jimmy Graham go to Green Bay in free agency. Raise your hand if you’ll miss Graham. I won’t either. The running backs will make up for his red-zone touchdowns.
If there’s another criticism, it’s along the lines of Schwab’s, waiting ’til the end of the fifth round to address the woeful offensive line by picking Jamarco Jones, a tackle from Ohio State. The Seahawks seem to think they’re good to go with players who manned the five starting positions last year, believing Mike Solari, the new O-line coach, will be enough to make a difference with them all. I’m not buying that, but it doesn’t matter, they are.
The Seahawks’ draft, if nothing else, gave us new storylines and an old one that’s more important – Schneider and Carroll want to get back to the smash-mouth, ground-and-pound style that led them to two Super Bowls, hoping it will happen again.