Good morning, Seahawks fans, and welcome to day two of the 2013 NFL Draft. After not selecting in yesterday’s first round, the Seahawks hold two picks today (Round 2, No. 56 overall and Round 3, No. 87 overall). The action revs back up at 3:30 p.m. PT.
In the meantime, here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks and around the League for Friday, April 26.
Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks trading their first-round draft pick to acquire wide receiver Percy Harvin was the right move.
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune recaps the Seahawks’ quiet first day and offers up some second-round targets for Seattle.
John Boyle of the Everett Herald details the moves made around the active NFC West on the draft’s first day.
ESPN.com NFC West blogger Mike Sando was hard at work while the rest of us in the Seahawks media room were spectating yesterday’s first round (kidding, kind of), and he shares his thoughts on the Rams, 49ers, and Cardinals first-round selections.
Grantland.com’s Bill Barnwell tries to make sense of the draft’s first day, noting surprises, trade winners and losers, and what to watch for on day two.
Former University of Washington Husky standout cornerback Desmond Trufant – the younger brother of longtime Seahawk Marcus Trufant – went to the Atlanta Falcons, who traded up with the Rams to grab him at No. 22.
A 49-year-old NFL Draft streak was snapped yesterday when a running back was not taken in the first round for the first time since 1963.
NFL.com has a round-by-round look at the 2013 NFL Draft order after last night’s picks and draft-day trades.
NFL.com Around the League editor Gregg Rosenthal breaks down what he believes to be the draft’s top 20 remaining players.
Stay plugged in to our draft central for all the latest news surrounding your Seahawks and the rest of today’s draft.
We leave you with the reactions from several Seahawks players via Twitter as they followed last night’s first round:
When we get to the end of the three-day NFL Draft on Saturday and you still haven’t had enough football, the NFL Network will be there.
The network will begin unveiling its Top 100 players of 2013, beginning Saturday at 5 p.m. PT with those ranked 91-100. At least one Seahawk will be included in the opening look at the Top 100, but the network isn’t saying who.
But the Seahawks have several players worthy of consideration at some point during the 11-week countdown: the All-Pro quartet of running back Marshawn Lynch, center Max Unger, cornerback Richard Sherman and free safety Earl Thomas; left guard Russell Okung and quarterback Russell Wilson, who joined Lynch, Unger and Thomas at the Pro Bowl; and perhaps even strong safety Kam Chancellor, nose tackle Brandon Mebane and recently acquired receiver/runner/returner Percy Harvin.
Additional information is available here.
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.”
We haven’t exhausted the coverage from our trip to chronicle the Seahawks Six in the Pro Bowl just yet.
For one last farewell to Paradise and the Pro Bowl, we asked each player for his favorite memory from the week in Hawaii:
Quarterback Russell Wilson: “Just to be with these guys, the other Seahawks Pro Bowlers. And then just being around Drew Brees and Eli Manning and Peyton Manning, it’s really special. Especially this being my rookie year, it just means a lot. It’s just a joy to be here.”
Tackle Russell Okung: “The impact we were able to have on the game. Marshawn (Lynch) did a great job. Leon (Washington) had a great return. Max (Unger) pretty much played the whole game. Earl (Thomas) had his interception. And Russell Wilson really got off.”
Center Max Unger, who grew up on the Big Island: “I don’t know what to say. The whole thing was just really cool. Just being able to have the best football players in the world be in Hawaii and having the fans be able to come out and see these guys and kind of interact with them at the practices and finally at the game, it’s cool. It’s kind of trippy seeing everybody here in Oahu.”
Safety Earl Thomas: “Just sharing this experience with my family and my teammates. It’s something you’ll never forget. You’re playing with some future Hall of Famers out here and when you get out here and play with the best it brings the best out of you.”
Kick returner Leon Washington: “Just having fun and enjoying this moment with my family and teammates. It’s a blessing. I’m so fortunate.”
Running back Marshawn Lynch: “Not talking to the media. That’s pretty much it, just being able to be away from everything and having some time to kick back with family, just hang out and get to meet some of the guys.”
HONOLULU – It’s Game Day. But will the exercise between the NFC and AFC squads at Aloha Stadium this afternoon be more Pro Bowl or “Clown Show”?
The Star Advertiser devoted more coverage to the future of the Pro Bowl than today’s game in its Sunday edition. The top half of the front page contains a story about whether the players in today’s game will perform well enough – and specifically with enough effort – to insure the future of the game under this headline: Pulling the Plug?
The NFL has made it obvious that a repeat of the effort given by the players last year will not be tolerated, and the punishment could be as harsh as discontinuing the annual Pro Bowl perk of spending a week in Paradise.
“I think they want to see the game of football stay the game of football, and not turn into a clown show,” Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch told the paper. “I played in (the 2012 Pro Bowl). There were some suspect plays.”
In Sports, there’s a four-page section devoted to the game, but it also includes two columns that address the need for better effort today under the headlines “Time to Deliver” and “Hawaii save Pro Bowl once; will player return the favor?”
But the fact remains that the NFL’s Pro Bowl is the highest-watched All-Star sports game of the four major sports.
“This is a big deal, believe me,” Seahawks center Max Unger, who was born and raised on the Big Island, said before Friday’s open-to-the-public practice at the stadium. “There’s no NFL team here, so for a lot of these fans this is as close as they’ll get to the NFL.”
Kickoff for today’s game is scheduled for 4pm PT with television coverage on NBC.
Twitter chatter from the eve of the 2013 NFL Pro Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii:
From free safety Earl Thomas’ Instagram: “Mom and Lil duece !!”
From free safety Earl Thomas’ Instagram: “12’swayyyyy in Hawaii..”
From free safety Earl Thomas’ Instagram: “Had a great time meeting all the fans….”
Earl Thomas and Russell Okung:
Our most valuable players:
Aloha Stadium, the site of the 2013 NFL Pro Bowl tomorrow:
HONOLULU – Hawkville has moved to Paradise this week, as the Seahawks have six players preparing to participate in the Pro Bowl on Sunday at Aloha Stadium. Today was ’Ohana Day at the stadium. ’Ohana? It means family in Hawaiian, in an extended sense of the term. And today’s practices were open to the public:
Marshawn Lynch. So, how is the Seahawks’ Beast Mode running back enjoying his third Pro Bowl experience?
“It’s great,” Lynch said at the conclusion of the NFC practice at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Thursday. “Except for the media.”
That was typical, as Lynch would rather let his actions speak for him. And during the 2012 season, he was downright boisterous while producing career-high totals in rushing yards (1,590), average per carry (5.0) and 100-yard rushing games (10).
While he has shied away from interviews this week, Lynch has displayed just the right mix of sass and wit, as well as charisma, while dealing with his teammates and the fans.
Now that those defenders in the NFC are his teammates rather than opponents who are trying to tackle a back who does everything in his considerable power to prevent that from happening, that is.
“He’s a great running back, so it’s a good feeling when you get him down obviously,” Ndamukong Suh, the Lions’ defensive tackle, said after today’s practice. “He’s one of those guys who just runs the ball really hard.
“He’s a rare breed of a back. He’s compact, and strong, and fast. At the same time. He can beat you on the edge. He can beat you up the middle. He’s a great combination of everything you’d want in a running back.”
When asked what it was like to try and tackle Lynch, Bears cornerback Charles Tillman offered, “It’s hard, because he’s a very powerful running back. He’s very strong. So it’s doable, but it’s hard.”
Lynch did agree to do one interview after practice today – with the Cartoon Network.
“It’s great to get a chance to meet everybody, because you play against so many of them during the season,” Lynch said. “So now is a time to kick back and enjoy the festivities and meet all the players.”
And Lynch’s favorite Cartoon Network character? “I used to watch Johnny Bravo,” he said.
A RAINBOW BACKDROP
Aloha Stadium is the home field for the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, and today several thousand fans were wearing a rainbow of NFL jerseys. A quick scan detected the colors of more than two dozen NFL teams – and the Seahawks were among those teams with the most fans.
It comes with growing up in The Islands. Just ask Seahawks center Max Unger, who grew up on the Big Island.
“There’s no pro team in Hawaii, so you just kind of pick one,” Unger said before today’s practice, explaining that his uncle has been a lifelong Vikings fan. “Then you’re a big fan of that team. So when you look in the crowd, you’ve probably got every team in the league represented here in a very small group. So it’s pretty cool.”
Not to mention colorful.
WILSON TO … MONIZ?
Following the NFC practice, Seahawks rookie QB Russell Wilson aired it out to some fans who had been selected for a “Play Catch with a Quarterback Experience.” Among them was James Moniz, who made a juggling catch of a deep ball from Wilson.
“I made one catch, dropped three,” Moniz said with a laugh as he was trying to catch his breath. “I thought we were just going to play catch, and he’s got us running deep routes.”
That’s Wilson. But that’s also why Moniz has become a fan of the QB, despite being a fan of the Dolphins.
“Russell Wilson is awesome,” Moniz said. “I have lots of friends from Wisconsin who are Badgers. So we’ve been cheering for him the last couple of years.”
LET’S GET MORE PHYSICAL
The message has been delivered by the league and received by the players: The effort level in tomorrow’s game must increase if the Pro Bowl is to continue.
“I plan on playing,” Seahawks kick returner Leon Washington said. “I plan on coming out here and having fun. But have respect for the game and play this game hard. We’re trying to win this game – NFC, and let’s beat this AFC team.”
Is that possible when Priority One remains not getting injured, or injuring anyone else?
“Hopefully guys take care of each other, but at the same time play hard,” Washington said.
How fine is that line? “You treat it like a thud practice,” Washington said. “You go hard. But I talked to one of the Green Bay coaches (who are coaching the NFC squad). For instance, say if you’re tackling a guy and you know you can have him in a vulnerable position. OK, tackle him. But other than that, between the plays, play full speed, play hard and go out there and protect yourself.”
STAT DU JOUR
Champ Bailey is at his 12th Pro Bowl, which has allowed the Broncos’ cornerback to climb to the top of a very impressive list. Here are the players who have been voted to double-digit Pro Bowls since 1971:
Player Pro Bowls
OG Randall McDaniel 12
OG Will Shields 12
CB Champ Bailey 12
QB Peyton Manning 11
DE Reggie White 11
TE Tony Gonzalez 11
LB Junior Seau 11
CB/S Rod Woodson 11
LB Lawrence Taylor 10
S Ronnie Lott 10
LB Mike Singletary 10
OL Bruce Matthews 10
WR Jerry Rice 10
LB Ray Lewis 10
Where’s Walter? Left tackle Walter Jones holds the Seahawks’ franchise record with nine Pro Bowl berths. Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy is next with eight, while Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent is next with seven.
STAT DU JOUR, PART DEUX
Since the NFL moved the Pro Bowl to the Sunday before the Super Bowl in 2010, an average of 29 players who were voted the game have not participated in the past four Pro Bowls. In 2009, when the Pro Bowl was played the Sunday after the Super Bowl, 11 players decided not to participate.
This year, there are 31 players not participating – 15 from the 49ers (nine) and Ravens (six), who will play in the Super Bowl next Sunday; and 16 others, including all three quarterbacks who were voted to the NFC squad.
These nuggets were gleaned from … The Wall Street Journal.
The game, of course. That’s what this week is all about. Kickoff on Sunday is set for 2 p.m. here, or 4 p.m. in Seattle.
YOU DON’T SAY, SEAHAWKS EDITION
“It wasn’t too far out there for me. Probably for a lot of other people. But I always believe in myself and I always believe in my talent.” – Russell when asked if it was “too far out there” to imagine that he would conclude his rookie season by playing in the Pro Bowl
YOU DON’T SAY, NFC EDITION
“We as players feel like we owe it to our fans to play better than we did last year. It’s an honor and it’s a privilege to be here. I don’t want to be a part of taking this honor and this privilege away from the future Pro Bowlers. I don’t want that to happen on my watch.” – Tillman
HONOLULU – Hawkville moves to Paradise this week, as the Seahawks have six players preparing to participate in the Pro Bowl on Sunday at Aloha Stadium:
Russell Wilson. What a whirlwind week the Seahawks’ rookie quarterback has had. He didn’t find out that he was being added to the NFC Pro Bowl squad until Sunday after Falcons QB Matt Ryan injured his left shoulder during Atlanta’s loss to the 49ers in the NFC Championship game.
Imagine how rushed Wilson must have been in preparing to join teammates Russell Okung, Max Unger, Marshawn Lynch, Leon Washington and Earl Thomas for their flight from Seattle to Honolulu on Tuesday. Or, think again.
“I got called right after the game,” Wilson, who was the third alternate at his position, said today following the NFC practice that was held at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. “But I was hoping that I was going to be able to go. So I was already packed and ready to go.”
The kid QB is focused, and has been since the Seahawks selected him in the third round of the NFL Draft last April. How else can you explain everything he has been able to accomplish during a rookie season that now includes a Pro Bowl berth?
“It’s obviously a blessing,” Wilson said.
Okung and Unger are not the only Seahawks offensive linemen here this week. Okung brought right tackle Breno Giacomini and right guard John Moffitt with him.
So there are six Seahawks on the NFC squad and two more who are getting a first-hand look at just how cool it is to go to the Pro Bowl.
“That’s even better,” Okung said. “That just shows you what we’re doing as a team and where we’re trying to get. We’re going to have guys come here, hopefully, every year.”
WILSON WINS “TOP VALUE” AWARD
Wilson has been voted the Vizio Top Value Performer of the Year, which measures on-field performance against earnings.
The others finalists were Redskins running back Alfred Morris, Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker, Patriots running back Stevan Ridley and Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts. But, according to the release announcing his selection, a record-breaking number of fans decided that Wilson provided his team with the greatest value during the 2012 season.
“It’s an honor to win this great award, and I’d like to thank the fans for voting me as the Vizio Top Value Performer,” said Wilson. “All the finalists had fantastic seasons and were certainly deserving of this award, but I’m happy to be able to share this with my teammates and all the fans that support our team.”
STAT DU JOUR
Half the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl contingent is here for the first time – Wilson, Unger and Okung. But the other half has been here before – Thomas, Washington and Lynch, who was the NFC’s leading rusher last season and the AFC’s leading rusher in 2008 while playing with the Bills. Here’s a look at their previous Pro Bowl contributions:
Year Carries Yards Avg.
2008 6 48 8.0
2011 8 43 5.4
(also caught one passes for 2 yards in ’08)
Year Carries Yards Avg.
2008 2 22 11.0
(also caught one pass for 6 yards; and returned four kickoffs for 65 yards and two punts for 2 yards)
2011 Credited with no tackles
The NFC and AFC squads will practice on Friday, but the sessions have been moved to the J.W. Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa, where the players are staying. The practices originally were scheduled for Kapolei High School, the site of Wednesday’s practices.
YOU DON’T SAY
“It’s even more special for me, being from Hawaii. It’s pretty cool, man. I hope they keep the game here. It’s a pretty special environment. ” – Unger, who is from Kailua-Kona on the Big Island
HONOLULU – Along the fence that separated the fans from the Pro Bowl players they had come to see was Jason Higashionna.
In a crowd estimated at 1,500 that gathered for today’s practices by the NFC and AFC teams that will participate in Sunday’s game, Higashionna was front and center. He was wearing a No. 91 Chris Clemons jersey and standing underneath a 12th Man flag.
Let’s just say that Hawaiian-born-and-raised Higashionna has not only connections, but a friend who was willing to show up at 2 a.m. at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to insure their prime viewing spot and also, well, here’s what Higashionna had to say about his flag.
“The Sea Gals gave me that flag when they came through for a Pacific Rim tour,” he said, smiling despite the rain that started to fall as the NFC squad took the field and turned into soaking showers by the time the AFC got its turn.
Higashionna then pulled out his phone and produced a picture of him surrounded by members of the Seahawks’ dance team.
“They gave me that flag,” he said. “And it was an awesome experience.”
Higashionna was among the largest pocket of several groups of Seahawks fans who turned out to see the Sea-Six – the team’s Pro Bowl contingent that includes left tackle Russell Okung, center Max Unger, running back Marshawn Lynch, quarterback Russell Wilson, kick returner Leon Washington and free safety Earl Thomas.
But he is no 12th Man-come-lately.
“I’m diehard Seahawks fan,” he said. “I fell in love with them when I watched (Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve) Largent play.”
He then turned to several others in his group and offered with a laugh, “I appreciate all these guys jumping on the bandwagon. They see the light, and I’m happy to see that.”
They also detected the lightheartedness of his comment, as it was greeted by a rowdy round of laughter.
But while half a dozen members of his team came to Higashionna this week, Matt Darlington and Ryan and John Towner came from the Mainland to see the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl Six.
“We flew over just to support our guys,” Darlington said.
After their on-field session was completed, the players “worked” the fence. They signed autographs on everything from jerseys, to Pro Bowl helmets and footballs, to a baby – yes, one fan had Wilson autograph his child. They posed for pictures. They chatted with the fans who must have felt like they were watching a practice in Renton rather than Paradise.
One fan frustrated by his inability to get Wilson’s attention broke into his best Tom Hanks’ impersonation from “Cast Away,” as he repeatedly bellowed, “Wil-l-lson-n-n. Wil-l-lson-n-n.”
“This is a great experience,” Wilson said as he was walking back across the field to the buses that were waiting to take the NFC squad back to its resort – and as the drenched fans continued to call his name.
“It’s a privilege to be here.”
DIAMOND HEAD – Make that higher ground, and make it the rim of the crater at this state monument that offers panoramic views of Waikiki beach, Diamond Head Lighthouse, the crater below and, of course, the Pacific Ocean.
Digital content coordinator Tony Drovetto and I are here to cover the six Seahawks who are preparing to play in Sunday’s Pro Bowl for the NFC squad – left tackle Russell Okung, center Max Unger and free safety Earl Thomas, who are starters; kick returner Leon Washington; and running back Marshawn Lynch and quarterback Russell Wilson, who are backups.
We flew over from Seattle today, but arrived too late to cover the first practice. So we used our late afternoon to hike to the crater rim, along with director of communications Lane Gammel. When we were making the last part of the trek to the top, a rainbow appeared against the clouds and hills to the northeast of the crater. The Chamber of Commerce couldn’t have created a more-fitting welcome to the Rainbow State.
Check back tomorrow and throughout the rest of the week when we’ll have written and video reports from the practices and the game. Thursday’s practice is being held at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, while the Friday session is set for Kapolei High School before both squads take the field at Aloha Stadium for Saturday’s workout.
Aloha for now.