The nattering nabobs of negativity delight in kicking the Seahawks for the first-round draft choices they have wasted on a trio of quarterbacks – Dan McGwire in 1991 (Chuck Knox wanted Brett Favre, Ken Behring wanted McGwire); Rick Mirer in 1993 (an influential member of the scouting department assured everyone there was no need to trade up a spot to take Drew Bledsoe with the first overall pick); and the 1989 first-round pick they traded to the Cardinals for the right to Kelly Stouffer, who was drafted by St. Louis in 1987 but refused to sign with the Arizona-bound club).
In addition to the franchise’s daft in the draft, however, there have been even more deft moves in the first round.
Just check this lineup: Jacob Green in 1980; Kenny Easley in 1981; Curt Warner in 1983; John L. Williams in 1986; Cortez Kennedy in 1990; Joey Galloway in 1995; Shawn Springs and Walter Jones in 1997; Shaun Alexander in 2000; Steve Hutchinson in 2001; Marcus Trufant in 2003; and Earl Thomas in 2010.
All but Galloway ended up playing in the Pro Bowl – with Jones going nine times and Kennedy eight times. One is the only player in franchise history to be voted league MVP – Alexander in 2005. Two were voted NFL Defensive Player of the Year – Easley in 1984, Kennedy in 1992. Four are in the team’s 10-member Ring of Honor – Green, Easley, Warner and Kennedy. Eight were voted to the franchise’s 35th Anniversary team – Green, Easley, Kennedy, Springs, Jones, Alexander, Hutchinson and Trufant.
One is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame – Kennedy. Another will end up there – Jones.
But who is the best of the best – or crème de la crème, if you will?
This eight-day exercise to determine the team’s top pick in each round of the draft started because someone at NFL.com listed the best first-round picks in the 32 spots. The only Seahawk on that list was Walter Jones (at No. 6), so it’s difficult to argue that he isn’t the team’s best first-rounder, as well.
Jones played at a Pro Bowl level – no, an All-Pro level – from the first day he stepped on the field in a Seahawks uniform as a rookie in 1997 to his final game in 2008. In between, there were those nine Pro Bowl berths, six All-Pro selections and in 2006 he was named the top player in the league by The Sporting News. Not the best lineman, the best player. Period.
The Seahawks already have retired his No. 71 jersey and he will be the next player inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor.
Connect the dots between all that, and it creates a portrait of the best first-round draft choice in franchise history. Longevity. Productivity. Durability. Dominance. That was Walter Jones.