Chris Warren was an overlooked entity in a 1990 NFL draft that also delivered defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, linebacker Terry Wooden and strong safety Robert Blackmon.
Until, that is, the 6-foot-2, 226-pound Warren stepped on the field for the first time. Derrick Fenner had replaced Curt Warner as the Seahawks’ leading rusher, so the fourth-round draft choice was relegated to kickoff and punt return duties.
“He’s got to be the biggest punt returner in the history of the league,” then-coached Chuck Knox marveled while watching Warren field punts behind his back during practice.
Warren also flashed some nifty moves once the games began, as he led the club in kickoff and punt return average as a rookie and also for the next two seasons. But it’s when Warren was finally allowed to play running back that he really got busy.
He rushed for 1,000-plus yards four consecutive seasons (1993-96), including a career-best and AFC-leading 1,545 yards in 1994. He scored 16 touchdowns in 1995, then the club single-season record. He also averaged 40 receptions from 1994-97.
Warren was voted to the Pro Bowl in 1993, 1994 and 1995, and named team MVP in ’94 and ’95. When he was released in 1998, Warren left as the team’s all-time leading rusher (6,706) and ranked second in rushing touchdowns (44).
Not surprisingly, Warren also ranks as the best fourth-round draft choice in franchise history.
And that’s saying something, considering that the competition includes kicker John Kasay (1991), who led the team in scoring for four consecutive seasons; linebacker Dean Wells, who led the team in tackles in 1996; defensive end Phillip Daniels (1996), who led the team in sacks in 1999; linebacker Isaiah Kacyvenski, who led the club in special teams tackles in 2000 and 2001; defensive end Red Bryant, who blocked four kicks and returned an interception for a touchdown last season; and linebacker K.J. Wright (2011), who played his way into the starting lineup as rookie.