It is May 4th and as appropriate on this day, dare we say … May the 4th be with you! To spell it out for the percentage of us born after the rest of us discovered (for the second time) that Anakin Skywalker was, in fact (SPOILER ALERT), Darth Vader, this phrase is a play on words to the Jedi credo (not to be confused with Greedo – RIP): “May the force be with you” as made popular by the Star Wars films.
That all being said, Happy Star Wars Day, 12s!
Don’t believe that this is a galaxy-wide holiday for most of us (except for maybe the Empire as evidenced in this attack ad)? Find out more information at the official website of Star Wars Day: http://maythe4th.starwars.com
If it isn’t already obvious, we here at Seahawks.com are Red Bryant-sized fans of all five episodes (we’re still trying to erase the memory of that Binks character from Episode I). And we’re not alone in our nerdom…
And then there’s this photo essay from NFL.com likening NFL players to Star Wars characters …
So, in the spirit of this galactic holiday, we created the graphic at the top of this page to help 12s celebrate with us on Instagram. But like the elder Skywalker, (and apparently the NFL) once we started down this dark path we simply couldn’t help ourselves …
How many of these 12 references can you guess? Perfect 12 equals Jedi Master:
To end as all episodes end…
A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on April 27:
1982: Jeff Bryant is selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Bryant would team with fellow defensive end Jacob Green and nose tackle Joe Nash to form what they called “The Diehard.” Why? “Because we always start,” Green explained. And that they did, from 1983 through 1989. In 1990, after selecting tackle Cortez Kennedy in the first round of the draft, coach Chuck Knox switched to a four-man defensive line and Bryant eventually became the only player in franchise history to start at all four spots.
2012: Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (second round) and quarterback Russell Wilson (third round) are selected in the NFL Draft. Wagner would lead the team in tackles and finish second in voting for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Wilson not only became the starter, he threw 26 touchdown passes to tie the league’s rookie record that was set by Peyton Manning in 1998, finished third in voting for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and played in the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement.
In past years, we’ve asked you to weigh-in on the best selections by round in the NFL Draft for the Seahawks, and also to vote on the best draft choice in franchise history.
But which was the single best day in the draft for the Seahawks?
The idea for this poll was planted during a hallway conversation at Virginia Mason Athletic Center with one of the team’s scouts, as we discussed what the team was able to accomplish on the second day of the 2012 draft.
That’s when Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson were selected in the second and third rounds. If you’re not familiar with their contributions to the team going 11-5 during the regular season and winning the franchise’s first road playoff game since 1983, well, you probably have no business voting in this poll.
But as a not-so-subtle reminder: Wagner led the Seahawks’ No. 4-ranked defense in tackles and finished second in balloting for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year; while Wilson tied the NFL rookie record by throwing 26 touchdown passes and finished third in voting for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
But was that the best single-day draft performance in club history? Here are three others to consider:
1990: The Seahawks began the day by trading up to the No. 3 spot in the first round with the Patriots to select defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, who became the most-decorated defensive player in franchise history and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last summer. But before that first day was over, the Seahawks also had added linebacker Terry Wooden and strong safety Robert Blackmon (second round) and eventual Pro Bowl running back Chris Warren (fourth round).
2010: In the first draft under GM John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll, in the first draft where it was expanded to three days and the first round only was conducted on the first day, the Seahawks selected Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung with the sixth pick overall and then added All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas with the 14th pick.
1997: The Seahawks also had two first-round picks this year, and used them to selected Pro Bowl cornerback Shawn Springs (third pick overall) and All-Pro left tackle Walter Jones (sixth pick). While Springs was a solid starter for seven seasons, Jones was voted to more Pro Bowls (nine) than any player in franchise history and already has had his No. 71 retired. The 1-2 punch of Springs and Jones also trumps the other two years when the team had two picks in the first round – 2000 (Shaun Alexander and Chris McIntosh) and 2001 (Koren Robinson and Steve Hutchinson).
But which one day was the best day? You make the call …
NFL.com Around the League editor Gregg Rosenthal recently ranked what he considers to be the five NFL teams that are the best when it comes to finding talent in the NFL Draft.
Rosenthal stresses that his list is in no particular order, but the Seahawks, under the direction of general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll, are conveniently Rosenthal’s first mention.
The defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, NFC West rival San Fracisco 49ers, New England Patriots, and New York Giants round out Rosenthal’s top five.
On the Seahawks, Rosenthal writes:
“GM John Schneider and Pete Carroll have only been together three years, but their track record is outstanding. They see players differently than other teams. Last year’s three-pack of Bruce Irvin,
Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson were all controversial picks that didn’t fit the traditional mold. They were all outstanding.
2011 was a shakier draft, but they found an All-Pro cornerback in Richard Sherman in the fifth round. That’s also the round they found Kam Chancellor in their first draft in 2010. That crop included Earl Thomas and Russell Okung. The spine of the Seahawks were built in three drafts.”
Twenty-two of Schneider and Carroll’s 28 total picks from the last three years remain on the Seahawks’ current roster. Four of their picks have been named to the Pro Bowl (Okung, Thomas, Chancellor, Wilson). Three have been named first-team All-Pro (Okung, Thomas, Sherman). And 10 of their 28 picks were listed as starters on the Seahawks’ depth chart heading into last year’s divisional playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Below is a pick-by-pick rundown of the Seahawks’ drafts guided by Schneider and Carroll.
|1||6||Russell Okung||6-5||310||T||Oklahoma State|
|2||60||Golden Tate||5-10||202||WR||Notre Dame|
|4||127||E.J. Wilson||6-3||289||DE||North Carolina|
|5||133||Kam Chancellor||6-3||232||S||Virginia Tech|
|7||236||Dexter Davis||6-1||244||DE||Arizona St.|
|7||245||Jameson Konz||6-3||234||WR||Kent. St.|
|4||99||K.J. Wright||6-4||246||LB||Mississippi St.|
|5||156||Mark LeGree||6-0||211||S||Appalachian St.|
|1||15||Bruce Irvin||6-3||248||DE||West Virginia|
|2||47||Bobby Wagner||6-0||241||LB||Utah State|
|4||106||Robert Turbin||5-10||222||RB||Utah State|
|6||172||Jeremy Lane||6-0||190||CB||NW Louisiana|
|7||225||JR Sweezy||6-5||298||G||North Carolina St.|
Before they dressed in Seahawks blue and green together on Sundays at CenturyLink Field, linebacker Bobby Wagner and running back Robert Turbin were clad in Utah State blue and white on Saturdays at Romney Stadium in Logan, Utah.
The Seahawks 2012 second- (Wagner) and fourth-round (Turbin) draft picks returned to their alma mater this past weekend for the Aggies’ annual Blue and White spring football game. It was there that Utah State Insider Matthew Glade tried to catch up with Turbin, only to have his interview highjacked by Wagner, who took the microphone from Glade and grilled Turbin with a few questions of his own.
After a bit of back and forth banter, Wagner isn’t all that impressed with Turbin’s answers for the camera.
“Your answers are pretty vanilla,” Wagner offered to Turbin. “Can you elaborate, or are you just going to stay vanilla?”
After a brief pause, Turbin carefully replies with, “Well, it’s my favorite ice cream.”
Well played, Turbin. Well played.
Mike Sando, the NFC West blogger at ESPN.com, has turned Matt Williamson’s positional rankings for the division’s four teams into a series of informational and entertaining “conversations” with the website’s resident scout.
Williamson ranks the Seahawks as the second-best team in the NFC West behind the conference champion 49ers, but the Seahawks come out No. 1 at quarterback, running back, defensive line, cornerback and safety. They are No. 2 at wide receiver, offensive line, linebackers and head coach, and No. 3 at tight end.
It’s worth checking out the rankings and the dialogue on each:
Williamson: “If I were starting a team, (Colin) Kaepernick and (Russell) Wilson would rank among my top five picks. The upside for Kaepernick is so great. I don’t expect him to take a step back. I just don’t think he is as far along as Wilson in the fundamentals of quarterback play. Wilson coming into the league was ahead of Kaepernick in terms of being a pocket passer, reading defenses, not relying on his physical gifts so much and just in the mental side of things.”
Williamson: “Seattle has the best back in the division in Marshawn Lynch, and Robert Turbin is a heckuva backup. It’s not a knock on (Frank) Gore. I like LaMichael James and like Kendall Hunter, too. So, the 49ers have three guys to talk about instead of two for Seattle.”
Williamson: “I’ll take (Percy) Harvin every day over (Michael) Crabtree and that is not a knock on Crabtree. Harvin is more dynamic, more versatile. He frightens defenses way more. You can do so much more with him. He has big-play ability and is just a better football player. When I rank the wide receivers in this division, it goes Larry (Fitzgerald), Harvin and Crabtree, but Harvin is closer to Fitz than Crabtree is to Harvin.”
Sando: “The Cardinals were the only NFL team without a touchdown reception from a tight end last season. Bad quarterback play had quite a bit to do with that, of course.”
Williamson: “Breno (Giacomini) has been serviceable. Marshawn Lynch has room to run. I think they have two good players (Max Unger and Russell Okung) and then a bunch of guys. I do think the whole is greater than sum of the parts. There is some truth to that in Seattle, which goes to coaching (by Tom Cable).”
Williamson: “They have a wide skill set, which I like, too. (Bruce) Irvin and (Red) Bryant are totally different players at defensive end. Irvin, (Chris) Clemons, (Cliff) Avril and Bryant give you versatility. For the Rams, (William) Hayes is an important part of that equation. He had seven sacks last year. (Robert) Quinn and (Chris) Long are questionable against the run. Hayes can be a base run defensive end. Plus, he moves inside and can be a quality rusher there.”
Sando: “The Seahawks found one starter in the second round (Bobby Wagner) and another in the fourth (K.J. Wright). They plan to use Cliff Avril at strong-side linebacker in some situations. But with Leroy Hill apparently having run his course in Seattle, the team figures to draft a weak-side linebacker to compete with Malcolm Smith.”
Sando: “Seattle is really the only team in the division appearing set at safety for now. I could still see the Seahawks drafting one for insurance in case they have a hard time re-signing Kam Chancellor. In the meantime, Earl Thomas might be the best safety in the league. At least I’m assuming you’d agree in saying he’s moved past Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed, who were long considered the standards.”
Williamson: “Seattle to me has the best set of corners in the league, clearly (in Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner). And then (Antoine) Winfield might be the best slot corner in the league. It’s almost unfair.”
Williamson: “(The Rams’ Jeff) Fisher is a heckuva coach, but he is behind two of the top five in the league (Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll) when it comes to ranking head coaches in the NFC West.”
So, just what are the options for a team that does not have a first-round pick in next week’s NFL Draft?
We ask, of course, because that’s the situation the Seahawks find themselves in after trading the 25th pick overall to the Vikings as part of the three-pick package to acquire receiver/runner/returner Percy Harvin last month.
The move leaves the Seahawks making their first pick in the second round, at No. 56 – barring the highly unlikely scenario that they trade back into the first round or up in the second round.
And who might be available at No. 56 that could help the Seahawks? We asked Mike Mayock, draft analyst for the NFL Network who conducted another marathon conference call today.
First, he addressed the Seahawks’ draft position: “This is a draft that people are complaining it’s not sexy at the top. But I would tell you that there are probably 25 to 35 more draftable players this year than last year. So there’s more depth in this draft than I’ve seen in a while.”
Then he offered some options for that position: “What would I like to see Seattle come away with? Well, it could be a defensive tackle to complement Brandon Mebane – a John Jenkins, say, from Georgia. Big, 340-pound nose tackle who would make a lot of sense there. I think (Connecticut’s) Sio Moore could play (weak-side) linebacker. Really excited by his progress. He’s so versatile. I think he’s the kind of guy Pete Carroll would like. Then, maybe some competition at right tackle. Would you draft a Terron Armstead, who’s physical skill set is exciting but he’s awfully raw?”
Here’s a closer look at those three players that “I think fit a need for Seattle,” as Mayock put it:
Jenkins – His mass (6-4, 346 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine) and strength (30 reps in the bench press) are Jenkins’ most obvious assets, and have drawn comparisons to the Packers’ B.J. Raji. He got as high as 370 pounds last season, but reportedly is down to 332. As Rob Rang at NFLDraftScout.com put it, Jenkins is “built like a Coke machine and is just as difficult to move.”
Moore – The 6-1, 245-pounder had 274 tackles as a three-year starter for the Huskies and has been referred as “a classic 4-3 weak-side linebacker candidate.” At the combine, Moore ran the 40-yard dash in 4.62 seconds and also had a 38-inch vertical leap. As Dane Brugler at NFLDraftScout.com wrote after the Shrine Game in January, “Moore entered the week as an underrated prospect, but he showed during practice sessions what most already knew: He’s a pretty good football player.”
Armstead – The 6-5, 306-pound Armstead played at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, but increased his draft stock with strong performances at the Shrine Game and Senior Bowl, and also after running the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds and popping a 34½-inch vertical leap at the combine. “He could develop into a left tackle with great feet and long arms,” Mayock said.
Mayock referenced Carroll again when asked about two players from Utah State – cornerback Will Davis and running back Kerwynn Williams – and whether that program was improving its status as a producer of NFL prospects.
“Just ask Pete Carroll,” Mayock said. “Pete drafted both (running back Robert) Turbin and (middle linebacker Bobby) Wagner last year. And Pete had one of the best drafts in the NFL last year. Bobby Wagner played great. Turbin had a real solid rookie season…
“Any time you get players drafted out of a school like Utah State, that play at the level they did in the NFL, it just increases the visibility on your school. And I think that’s great.”
What do Chris Clemons, Bobby Wagner and Richard Sherman have in common?
Well, they’re all members of the Seahawks, as well as the leading sacker (Clemons), tackler (Wagner) and interceptor (Sherman) for a defense that ranked No. 4 in the NFL during the 2012 season. But they’re also All-Joes, as selected by USA Today. Nate Davis tabbed the trio of defenders for the publication’s 21st annual All-Joe team.
The team was first selected in 1992 by Larry Weisman as a tribute to Joe Phillips, a 14-year defensive lineman who did “yeoman’s work” for the Chiefs that season. USA Today has honored the unsung Joes ever since and compiles them in a 53-man roster that has at least one representative from every NFL team, and only players who have never been named to the Pro Bowl are eligible.
And that makes Sherman a good place to start with the trio of Seahawks who were selected. He was voted All-Pro after leading the league with 24 passes defensed and tying for second in the NFL with eight interceptions, but not selected to the NFC Pro Bowl squad.
Davis on Sherman: “It’s rare when the All-Joe team lands a first-team All-Pro; Sherman’s (successful) battle to overturn a drug suspension probably kept him away from Hawaii but not this roster. His combination of size (6-3, 195 pounds) and in-your-face attitude (just ask Tom Brady) make him one of the league’s toughest competitors. And he more than backed up the swagger with a league-high 24 pass break-ups to go along with eight interceptions and three forced fumbles.”
Davis on Clemons: “High-effort player has at least 11 sacks in each of his three seasons in Seattle and doesn’t come off the field. Hopefully he’s back on it soon after tearing up a knee in postseason.”
Davis on Wagner: “One of the many members of Seattle’s impressive 2012 draft class, he nearly took the tackle crown (140) and defensive rookie honors from (Luke) Kuechly (of the Panthers).”
Robert Griffin III was available. So was Andrew Luck. But when Elliott Harrison at NFL.com selected his “All-Under-25” Team, he opted for neither of the top two picks in last April’s NFL Draft, but the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson as his quarterback.
Cornerback Richard Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas, a pair of All-Pro performers during the 2012 season, also made his 25-player team. The idea behind selecting the team – an All-Start-Up Team, if you will – was picking those players under 25 that you would want if starting an NFL franchise from scratch.
So Wilson over RGIII or Luck, who finished ahead of Wilson in the voting for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, shows that Harrison was paying attention all of last season – when Wilson only got better as the season progressed, and also was the last of the rookie QBs standing in the playoffs.
Harrison on Wilson: “Wilson remains a narrow choice over Luck, but you can’t go wrong with either. Robert Griffin III’s style of play causes durability qualms. Wilson’s efficiency and leadership set the tone in Seattle.”
And just how difficult was it to pick Wilson? “Russell Wilson was the choice, after much consternation and internal strife,” Harrison wrote.
Harrison on Sherman: “He has a big mouth, but certainly backs it up. Sherman led the NFL with 24 passes defensed, while only allowing QBs to complete 45.7 percent of their passes against him. Great size, to boot.”
Harrison on Thomas: “Truth be told, the Seahawks’ All-Pro safety might be a hair overrated. Yet, he makes clutch plays and has more of a track record than Minnesota’s Harrison Smith and Denver’s Rahim Moore.”
Overrated? Can that term be used to describe a player who has been a starter for each of his three seasons with the Seahawks, a Pro Bowl player the past two seasons and an All-Pro pick this season? Also, Thomas has ranked fifth, third and fifth on the team in tackles and intercepted 10 passes since being the 14th pick overall in the 2010 NFL Draft.
And what about Bobby Wagner, the Seahawks’ middle linebacker and leading tackler during his rookie season? Harrison went with the Panthers’ Luke Kuechly, who also topped Wagner for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. “Kuechly edges out Seahawks stud Bobby Wagner because of his ability against the run (still crucial, despite the NFL’s pass-happy ways). He recorded 165 tackles as Defensive Rookie of the Year.”
Wagner had 140 tackles, but also three interceptions (to two for Kuechly) and two sacks (to one for Kuechly). Just saying.
But then the Seahawks were one of only two teams to land three players on Harrison’s team. The other was the Bengals, while the Buccaneers, Cowboys, Dolphins and 49ers had two each.
Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner produced like first-round draft choices during their rookie seasons with the Seahawks, even though they were selected in the third and second rounds last April.
This fact was not lost on Don Banks during his annual redraft at SI.com, as he has Wilson going at No. 3 in the first round to the Browns and Wagner at No. 9 to the Panthers. Wilson, of course, tied the NFL rookie record by throwing 26 touchdown passes while leading the Seahawks to an 11-5 record during the regular season and then added three more TD passes as they split two playoff games. Wagner, meanwhile, led the team in tackles during the regular season as well as the postseason.
First-round play from second- and third-round picks, you have to love that.
Here’s what Banks had to say in slotting each player into the top of the first round with do-over picks:
On Wilson going to the Browns, who picked running back Trent Richardson at No. 3: “A no-brainer for the perennially quarterback-needy Browns. At least with (Andrew) Luck and (Robert) Griffin, great expectations came with the draft slot. Not so with Wilson. He sat and watched 74 other players have their names called before he heard his in the third round. Like the other two quarterbacks taken before him, Wilson led his team to the playoffs and left no doubt as to his readiness to become the face of the franchise. The Browns sure didn’t turn a corner by taking a first-round running back, no matter how stout the Richardson pick might look in the future.”
On Wagner going to the Panthers, who picked linebacker Luke Kuechly at No. 9 but lost him to the Dolphins at No. 8 in the redraft: “Having just missed out on Kuechly, Carolina could rebound by taking Wagner, who vastly out-performed his second-round draft spot in Seattle. Wagner led the Seahawks in tackles in both the regular season and the playoffs, and he could slide right into the middle linebacker slot that Kuechly manned so capably this season in Charlotte.”
Banks also sticks with Bruce Irvin as the Seahawks’ pick at No. 15, a selection some continue to view skeptically despite the rush-end leading all NFL rookies with eight sacks. Says Banks: “Not a bad draft in Seattle this season. The Seahawks’ top three picks – Irvin, Wagner and Wilson – all go in our Top 15 do-over. That will work most any year for Seattle general manager John Schneider and his personnel department.”
No do-over needed with that assessment.