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.
With the Seahawks scouts and coaches heading to Indianapolis this week for the Scouting Combine to examine draft-eligible players, Pat Kirwan at CBSSports.com has a mock draft that includes this pick for the Seahawks: “Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC: The Seahawks may be moving around in the first round if quarterback is still an issue. If they settle it in free agency with the likes of Matt Flynn they can stay put and take a versatile pass rusher like Perry. Pete Carroll knows him well and his measurable at the combine will shoot him up draft boards.”
Also at CBSSports.com, Pete Prisco has the Seahawks addressing the other side of the ball in his mock: “Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama: “Marshawn Lynch is a free agent, and this explosive back would be a nice replacement.”
Tom Pauline at SI.com provides his Top 50 players entering the combine, you-know-who is No. 1: “(Stanford QB Andrew) Luck has been the top NFL prospect in the nation for almost two years and nothing has changed. He’ll be the first player selected in the draft and the Indianapolis Colts will barely notice the bump in the road as they transition from the Peyton Manning era.”
Monday was the first day teams could designate franchise players, and Jason La Canfora at NFL.com looks the possible candidates around the league, including the Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch: “The Seahawks are deep in talks with running back Marshawn Lynch on a long-term deal, which could well be completed before the March 5 deadline. If that somehow falls apart, the Seahawks are prepared to tag Lynch, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.”
Mike Sando at ESPN.com provides some notes on teams wanting/needing to use their franchise tag: “Teams have until July 16 to sign their franchise players to long-term contracts. The date is usually July 15, but it is the 16th this year because the 15th falls on a Sunday. Past that date, teams can sign their franchise players only to one-year deals. They cannot reach extensions until after their final regular-season games.”
Phillip Daniels, who led the Seahawks in sacks in 1999, has been named director of player development for the Washington Redskins. The team’s website has the story: “I’m really looking forward to helping our players and team win, on and off the field,” Daniels said.
Here at Seahawks.com, we check in with Walter Thurmond, the third-year cornerback who is rehabbing from his second surgery in a 25-month period: “To play cornerback in the NFL, it is necessary to have a short memory. Because dwelling on just being beaten on one play will only increase the chances that you also get beat on the next play. This indispensable trait has served Walter Thurmond well, off the field as well as on. ‘You hear the old adage about the DB with a short memory, Walter carries that consistently to other aspects of his life, obviously,’ said Kris Richard, the Seahawks’ former cornerback who now coaches the defensive backs on Pete Carroll’s staff. ‘He’s not going to allow a negative outlook to impede his rehabilitation, which is a really good sign. That’s kind of what makes him a special person and a special player.’ ”
John Czarnecki at FoxSports.com has his 10 biggest offseason moves to this point, and checking in at No. 1 is the total makeover by the Rams: “St. Louis landed the most qualified free-agent head coach, Jeff Fisher, who didn’t want to wait another year to see if a job in Chicago or Washington would open. Fisher reached the playoffs six of his last 12 seasons with the Tennessee/Houston franchise. He also has major clout on the competition committee and league-wide respect among his peers. Fisher drew interest from the Colts and Chargers, but he believes quarterback Sam Bradford can be great. Fisher has assembled an all-star coaching staff that includes Dave McGinnis, Gregg Williams, Paul Boudreau and Brian Schottenheimer.”