When Michael Sinclair arrived as a sixth-round draft choice out of Eastern New Mexico in 1991, he looked lost. You could see it in the blank gaze in his eyes, sense it in his what-am-I-doing-here body language and it was underlined by his rookie-season stat line: No games played, no tackles, no sacks.
But after being allocated to the Sacramento Surge of the World League and finishing second in the now-defunct spring league with 10 sacks in 1992, Sinclair returned with a newfound sense of himself – not to mention an array of pass-rush moves that allowed him to produce a team-high eight sacks for the Seahawks in 1993.
“I needed that,” Sinclair would say of his stint in the World League. “I proved to myself that I could play at the next level.”
And he then took his game to next level, as well. Sinclair also led the Seahawks in sacks in 1994, 1997 and 1998 – when he led the NFL with 16.5, still the franchise single-season record.
By the time he left the Seahawks after the 2001 season, Sinclair had started 114 games and ranked second only to Jacob Green in career sacks on the team’s all-time list with 73.5. Sinclair was voted to three consecutive Pro Bowls (1996-98), presented the Steve Largent Award in 1998 and joined Green on the 35th Anniversary team.
Not surprisingly, Sinclair is the best player the Seahawks ever selected in the sixth round of the NFL Draft.
Tight end Itula Mili (1997) and defensive tackle Craig Terrill (2004) also rose from their afterthought draft status to deserve consideration, as Mili caught 43 passes in 2002 and 46 in 2003 and Terrill tied the franchise career record by blocking eight field goals. But Sinclair’s lost-to-found journey was just too difficult to top.