Seahawks draft: Top of the class

“In their inaugural draft, new Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and first-year general manager John Schneider formed a duo as dynamic as Batman and Robin.”

Holy Draft Recap, Batman. Now that is saying something. But the above reaction from Dennis Dillon at Sporting News Today in listed the Seahawks No. 1 in his most-improve rankings from the draft was typical of the praise heaped upon Carroll and Schneider for what they accomplished.

It was more than emerging from the first round with left tackle Russell Okung and free safety Early Thomas. It went beyond getting wide receiver Golden Tate in the second round. There was even more to it than a ridiculously productive Saturday, when Schneider worked trades to land veteran running backs LenDale White and Leon Washington and also found a couple of potential gems in the final four rounds – Oregon cornerback Walter Thurmond and USC tight end Dexter Davis.

It was the sums of these parts that put the Seahawks’ draft over the top.

Clifton Brown, also of Sporting News Today, gave the Seahawks’ draft an A+.

“Russell Okung and S Earl Thomas could be great; trades for RBs LenDale White and Leon Washington will juice run game,” Brown said.

The Seahawks also got the only A+ handed out by Jarrett Bell of USA Today, who offered:

“The top priority, Russell Okung, supplants retiring Walter Jones as the franchise left tackle. Playmaking safety Earl Thomas fell into the Seahawks’ lap in the 14th slot. Picked 60th overall, wideout-returner Golden Tate came with tremendous value. Exclamation points were added with trades that landed power runner Len Dale White, scatback Leon Washington and defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson. An impressive performance to mark Pete Carroll’s return to the NFL.”

Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com, who spent the three-day draft at the Seahawks’ headquarters, gave the team an A, with this expansive assessment:

“The Seahawks entered the draft with a built-in advantage, as they, along with the 49ers, were the only team to enter Thursday with two first-round picks. They didn’t waste them, eliminating their biggest needs immediately with Russell Okung, NFLDraftScout.com’s top-rated offensive tackle, and ball-hawk Earl Thomas only eight picks later. Notre Dame play-making receiver and returner Golden Tate fell to them with the 60th pick. All three could start immediately. If possible, Seattle’s draft got even better on the third day, however, as the team found a potential fourth future starter in cornerback Walter Thurmond, as well as one of the better all-around tight ends in the class in former USC standout Anthony McCoy. The team also addressed concerns at running back in trading for the explosive Leon Washington and powerful LenDale White. White will be reunited with former Trojans coach Pete Carroll and will be plenty motivated, as he’s entering his contract year. In terms of immediate impact, as well as long-term potential, there wasn’t a better draft in 2010 than Seattle’s.”

Another A grade came from Mel Kiper of ESPN, who said:

“Pete Carroll and the new Seahawks regime came out of the gates with a bang. Impact players early, value later, and some trades thrown in. And they were patient! Russell Okung lands in their laps at No. 6, Earl Thomas is there at No. 14. Golden Tate is still there at No. 60. All three can help the team not in a few years, but immediately. A swap netted the team LenDale White, who isn’t remarkable, but it cost them nothing. Then, Seattle parlayed a fifth-rounder into Leon Washington. No team outside of possibly Detroit added impact players the way Seattle has.”

In their draft recap show on Sunday, Kiper and fellow analyst Todd McShay rated the Seahawks’ draft the best in the NFC West, and McShay labeled Thomas the “steal” pick in the division.

Even the cynics in the crowd found little to quibble about. Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com gave the Seahawks at B+, with these category assessments:

Best pick: I like the pick of Golden Tate in the second round. Seattle needs a receiver and Tate can provide the big play.

Questionable move: Taking safety Earl Thomas at No. 14 in the first round instead of a much-needed pass rusher. The value is better at defensive end.

Third-day gem: Oregon cornerback Walter Thurmond, a fourth-round pick, was a good player in a tough conference. Pete Carroll knows him well. He will be a starter someday.

Analysis: It was hard not to have a good draft with two first-round picks. Landing Russell Okung in the first round was a must. They better hope Thomas ends up being an Ed Reed-type player. They also traded for Leon Washington and LenDale White.

Leave it to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King to deliver the perfect wrap up to what was a near-perfect draft.

“Ever have one of those Dream Drafts that falls just right?” asked King, who spent Thursday and Friday at the team’s headquarters. “The Seahawks did.”


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