April Madness: Bryant vs. Kennedy

Yesterday: It was need over speed, in a runaway.

Curt Warner, a workhorse running back who the Seahawks traded up to select with the third pick overall in the 1983 draft as the needed element in coach Chuck Knox’s “Ground Chuck” offense, easily dispatched Joey Galloway, the extra-speed wide receiver who was the eighth pick overall in the 1995 draft.

Warner garnered 84 percent of the 839 responses, or 701 votes. Galloway had 16 percent, or 138 votes. Warner’s percentage of the votes was the third highest of the first round – behind Walter Jones (97 percent) and Kenny Easley (85).

In the second round, Warner will face the winner of today’s final first-round matchup …

Today: Jeff Bryant vs. Cortez Kennedy.

Just as Knox did to select Warner in his first draft with the Seahawks, he also traded up to the third spot in 1990 to select Kennedy – who would become an eight-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle and the 1992 NFL defensive player of the year.

Prior to the selection, the Seahawks had played a 3-4 front. That changed the moment Knox stepped to the podium to discuss the move to acquire Kennedy. His comments went something like this: “We just got Cortez Kennedy. We’re switching to a 4-3 and he’ll be the right tackle, so he’s not taking anyone’s position. This is a great addition to our football team” – and I’m sure there also was something about Kennedy being a dominate football player who could make football plays on the football field to help his football team win football games.

As it turned out, however, Bryant actually started 14 games at right tackle that season because Kennedy did not report until the week of the regular-season opener.

Kennedy’s late arrival and less-productive-than-expected rookie season obviously proved to be just an early blip in his career. In ’91, he had 6½ sacks among his 67 tackles, which was just a prelude to what would be a season for the ages in ’92 – 14 sacks, 92 tackles and that aforementioned NFL defensive player of the year award. All that on a team that finished 2-14.

Kennedy had 70-plus tackles five times and six-plus sacks six times in his 11-season career. By the time Kennedy left after the 2000 season, he had been voted All-Pro four times to go with his eight Pro Bowl berths; and ranked sixth all-time in games started (153), eighth in tackles (668), fourth in sacks (58) and fourth in forced fumbles (13).

He was named to the NFL All-Decade for 1990s and inducted into the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor in 2006.

As spectacular as Kennedy could be, Bryant was that steady. The team’s first-round draft choice in 1982, the sixth pick overall, Bryant is the only D-lineman in franchise history to start at all four positions on the line – right end in the 3-4 from 1982-89; right tackle in ’90; left tackle in the 4-3 in 1991; left end in 1992-93.

Nicknamed “Boogie” by his teammates, Bryant was a man of few words, but boisterous actions. He had 14½ of his career 63 sacks in 1984 and ranks third in club history in sacks, fifth in career starts (167), seventh in forced fumbles (12), fourth in fumble recoveries (11), sixth in tackles (689) and second in PATs blocked (two) and blocked field goals (3).

Speaking of nicknames, teammates called Kennedy “Big Dawg,” and it was Bryant who gave him the moniker. Why “Big Dawg”? As Bryant once explained, “When you’re going hunting, you want to take the big dog. That’s Tez. He’s our ‘Big Dawg.’ ”

One of the best to ever play his position? Or one capable of starting at four different positions? You make the call.

Tomorrow: Lofa Tatupu vs. Walter Jones, in the first matchup of the second round


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