2013 NFL Draft: Seattle Seahawks spotlight
A shared vision by the Seattle coaching staff and personnel department has transformed the Seahawks into a potential powerhouse. With many of their best players still playing for relatively cheap rookie contracts, Seattle was once again aggressive this off-season. But will it pay off with a Super Bowl?
Only the team fortunate enough to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the NFL season would characterize their season as truly successful, but there is no denying the anticipation in Seattle after a breakthrough performance a year ago for the Seahawks.
Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson grew more confident with each start -- and so did his teammates and coaching staff. More of the offense was put on his shoulders with each passing week.
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It was hardly just the Russell Wilson show in Seattle, however. While Wilson generated much of the attention league-wide, the Seahawks were at their best when he was used as a complement to the powerful running of fellow Pro Bowler Marshawn Lynch. Blending burst with balance and raw power, Lynch transformed into "Beast Mode" for a career-high 1,590 yards in 2012, often behind left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger, each of whom also were named to the Pro Bowl roster. The defense, led by brash cornerback Richard Sherman, as well as a highly athletic front seven, simply led the NFL in scoring defense, allowing a paltry 15.3 points per game.
Whether it be on the offensive or defensive side of the ball, the credit for Seattle's ascent should be shared evenly between coach Pete Carroll and his staff and general manager John Schneider and his scouting department.
Carroll and Schneider appear to genuinely like each other. Their shared vision has helped the Seahawks consistently find draft diamonds in the rough in the later rounds.
Schneider was asked at the combine about his team's ability to find quality starters after the first round.
"I can't speak for other organizations," Schneider said. "But as for our group, we know our coaches have trust in us as far as acquiring players that fit what they're looking for, or fit a certain position. They're going to compete, and obviously for them to do that, the trust in the coaches to teach, work and develop those players. And [Carroll's] main philosophy is all about competition. So, he opens that door, and you have a chance to play."
Earning early playing time has helped Seattle field a young -- and cheap -- roster.
With many of their best players still earning relatively meager sums as part of their rookie contracts, the Seahawks have been able to be aggressive this offseason in an effort to bring a Super Bowl title to Seattle for the first time.
With their top pass-rusher Chris Clemons tearing his ACL during the playoffs, the Seahawks filled their need for another "LEO" defensive end with former Detroit Lions standout Cliff Avril. Soon after, Seattle also signed versatile defensive lineman Michael Bennett (Tampa Bay), who possesses the combination of burst and strength to rotate inside and out in Carroll's hybrid front. Most recently, the Seahawks added former Minnesota Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield.
The most exciting addition, of course, was the trade for Winfield's teammate in Minnesota, wide receiver Percy Harvin. Seattle gave up a slew of picks to bring Harvin to Seattle (among them, their 2013 first-round selection), but he provides the team a dynamic playmaker whose match hasn't been seen in the Emerald City since the team sent Joey Galloway packing.
Young, hungry, physical and talented, the Seahawks are considered by some to be this year's Super Bowl favorite. If able to win the NFC Western Division and host playoff games in raucous Century Link Field, that might occur.
As talented as its roster is, however, Seattle still has holes to fill. Fortunately for the Seahawks, their needs tie in nicely with this year's talent. With 10 picks with which to target their specific needs and Schneider having consistently hit big on later-round picks, don't put it past the Seahawks to once again go mining for diamonds -- perhaps some polished enough to be fitted into a Super Bowl ring one day.
Seattle Seahawks' 2013 draft picks: 56, 87, 123, 138, 158, 194, 220, 231, 241, 242
Primary needs: OLB, DT, CB, WR, OL
General manager: John Schneider, fourth year
Five draft picks that clicked:
-- QB Russell Wilson, 75th overall, 2012
-- ILB Bobby Wagner, 47th overall, 2012
-- CB Richard Sherman, 155th overall, 2011
-- SS Kam Chancellor, 133rd overall, 2010
-- OC Max Unger, 49th overall, 2009
Five players who should be on the Seattle Seahawks' draft radar:
Player, school (overall rating, position rating)
DE Sam Montgomery, LSU (51, 7): While 2012 first-round pick Bruce Irvin led all rookies with eight sacks a season ago, he was largely contained in the one game that Seattle needed him most -- the playoff loss to the Atlanta Falcons. The addition of Avril eases concern about Clemons' loss, but the former Lion only signed a two-year deal and there isn't a team in the league that feels it has enough pass rushers. Montgomery does not possess the elite burst that could push former teammate Barkevious Mingo into the top 10, but he has been the more productive player due to better technique, strength and hustle. With their obvious needs already filled with veterans, Seattle will take the best-available-player strategy at No. 56 overall. If still on the board at that point, Montgomery would be a consideration.
OLB Sio Moore, Connecticut (78, 8): Since Leroy Hill's selection in the third round of the 2005 draft, he has proven to be one of the Seattle's better, if relatively unsung, defenders. Yet another run-in with police, however, makes it appear likely Hill's time with the Seahawks has come to an end, potentially creating a hole at outside linebacker. The club is high on youngsters Malcolm Smith and Korey Toomer but could be intrigued by Moore's playmaking ability if he's available in the third round. At 6-1, 245 pounds, Moore doesn't possess the length that scouts would prefer, but he does have an impressive combination of instincts, athleticism and versatility.
SS Shawn Williams, Georgia (111, 5): In Brandon Browner, Sherman and Winfield, the Seahawks possess as physical a trio of cornerbacks as there is in the NFL. But safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are big-time hitters themsevles. For now, the Seahawks are set at the position. But with each of these young defenders likely expecting a huge pay raise soon, Seattle might want to consider Williams, one of the more underrated talents in this talented and deep safety draft class. Williams' physicality and leadership would make him a nice fit and a potentially strong value if still available in the fourth round.
WR Josh Boyce, TCU (169, 20): With Harvin, Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and 2011 leading receiver Doug Baldwin expected to lead off Seattle's receiving corps next fall, wideout is not necessarily a huge area of concern. Each, however, has missed at least one game due to injury during the past two seasons. Therefore, don't be surprised if the Seahawks invest a middle-round pick (or higher) in a pass catcher. The Seahawks could be especially interested in one who has the speed, elusiveness and toughness to serve as a punt returner as well. Boyce impressed scouts at the combine with one of the better all-around performances by any athlete tested in Indianapolis ... especially considering that he did so with a broken foot.
DT Kwame Geathers, Georgia (243, 20): While the "LEO" defensive end position is the one that has received the attention from Carroll's defense, five-technique defensive end Red Bryant plays just as a critical a role in the defense. When healthy, Bryant is one of the more effective run stuffers in the league. Bryant showed his toughness by gutting out a foot injury a year ago, but he wasn't the dominant run defender in 2012 that he had proven himself to be a season earlier. The Seahawks will almost certainly be looking to add a developmental five-tech defensive end in this draft. Considering Geathers' bloodlines, level of competition and, of course, size (6-6, 342 pounds), he certainly fits the bill.
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