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 …
A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on April 19:
1997: After selecting cornerback Shawn Springs with the third overall pick in the NFL Draft, the Seahawks traded into the sixth spot to take tackle Walter Jones. The incomparable Jones would be voted to a club-record nine Pro Bowls and have his No. 71 retired after he called it a Hall of Fame career following the 2009 season. Springs also was voted to the Pro Bowl in 1998 and started 88 games in seven seasons with the team.
2002: Brock Huard is traded to the Colts for a fifth-round draft choice the Seahawks would use to select defensive tackle Rocky Bernard. Huard, who also played at the University of Washington and Puyallup High School, had been the Seahawks’ third-round draft in 1999 and would return to the team for the 2004 season.
A look at a memorable moment in Seahawks history that occurred on March 28:
1997: The club trades a first-round pick obtained from the Bears for QB and former first-round pick Rick Mirer to the Falcons to move up to the third spot in the NFL Draft, so it can select Shawn Springs. The Ohio State cornerback would start 88 games in seven seasons, lead the team in interceptions twice, be voted to the Pro Bowl in 1998 and was selected to the franchise’s 35th Anniversary team.
A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on Feb. 7:
1988: Kenny Easley and Fredd Young provide half the AFC’s four interceptions, as well as eight and seven tackles, in a 15-6 victory in the Pro Bowl. Steve Largent (one reception) and Jacob Green (two tackles) also were on the AFC squad.
1993: Cortez Kennedy and Eugene Robinson combine for nine tackles to help the AFC win the Pro Bowl 23-20 in overtime.
1999: Cortez Kennedy and the “strong side, left side” trio of Michael Sinclair, Chad Brown and Shawn Springs combine for five tackles and three passes defensed to help the AFC claim a 23-10 Pro Bowl victory in what is John Elway’s final game.
2003: Teryl Austin is named defensive backs coach on Mike Holmgren’s staff.
A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on Dec. 20:
1981: Dave Krieg passes for three touchdowns, including two to Steve Largent, as the Seahawks close the season with a 42-21 win over the Browns at the Kingdome. Rookie safety Kenny Easley leads the defensive effort with two interceptions, returning one 82 yards for a score; and Greggory Johnson returns a Michael Jackson-forced fumble 31 yards for another score. Jackson also has 16 tackles and sack.
1985: In a Friday night game at the Kingdome, Norm Johnson hits the right upright on a 52-yard field goal on the final play as the Broncos win 27-24 behind a 432-yard passing performance by John Elway.
1986: In a Saturday afternoon game at the Kingdome, Curt Warner runs for 192 yards and three touchdowns and Dave Krieg throws two TD passes to Daryl Turner as the Seahawks close their season with a 41-16 victory over the Broncos. Steve Largent also catches six passes for 101 yards. The Seahawks finish with 10-6 record, including victories over both teams that advance to the Super Bowl (the Broncos and Giants), but do not make the playoffs.
1987: Curt Warner runs for two touchdowns, Dave Krieg passes for two more and John L. Williams catches eight passes for 117 yards in a 34-21 victory over the Walter Payton-led Bears in Chicago. Eugene Robinson leads the defensive effort with two interceptions and 11 tackles, while rookie Brian Bosworth has two fumble recoveries and a sack.
1992: Loss No. 13 in the Seahawks’ 2-14 season comes in Denver, as Gaston Green scores the only touchdown in the Broncos’ 10-6 win at Mile High Stadium. The defense intercepts John Elway three times and forces three fumbles, while Chris Warren runs for 97 yards in the loss.
1998: The Seahawks score 17 points in the final 10 minutes to pull out a 27-23 victory over the Colts at the Kingdome, as Ricky Watters has a 33-yard touchdown run, Shawn Springs returns a fumble 14 yards for a TD and Todd Peterson kicks a 30-yard field goal. Watters finishes with 178 rushing yards in Dennis Erickson final home game as coach of his hometown NFL team.
2009: The Buccaneers score 24 unanswered points in a 24-7 victory over the Seahawks in Seattle. Matt Hasselbeck passes 29 yards to John Carlson for the Seahawks’ only points, but also throws four interceptions.
A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on Dec. 13:
1980: The Chargers take a 21-0 halftime lead and hold on for a 21-14 victory in San Diego, as Jim Jodat and Steve Largent score second-half touchdowns.
1981: Kenny Easley and John Harris intercept passes and Dave Krieg throws a touchdown pass to David Hughes, but it’s not enough in a 23-13 loss to the Broncos at Mile High Stadium.
1987: Dave Krieg throws three touchdown passes, including two to Ray Butler, and the defense sacks John Elway four times and intercepts him twice in a 28-21 victory over the Broncos at the Kingdome.
1992: Hershel Walker scores a touchdown with less than five minutes to play in regulation to tie the score and Roger Ruzek kicks a 44-yard field goal in overtime to give the Eagles a 20-17 victory over the Seahawks at the Kingdome. The defense sacks Randall Cunningham 10 times, including 2½ by Rufus Porter and Robert Blackmon and two by Cortez Kennedy, but the offense generates only 87 total yards.
1998: Cortez Kennedy returns a fumble 39 yards for a touchdown and the defense also intercepts a club-record seven passes in a 38-17 victory over the Chargers. Jay Bellamy, Darryl Williams and Shawn Springs each have two picks, and Terry McDaniel returns his 43 yards for a touchdown. Jon Kitna passes for one touchdown and runs for another.
2009: Andre Johnson catches 10 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns – in the first half – as the Titans hand the Seahawks a 34-7 loss in Houston.
A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on Nov. 1:
1999: Mike Holmgren returns to Lambeau Field and the former Packers coach gets a 27-7 victory over his old team on “Monday Night Football.” The list of Seahawks who chip in on Holmgren’s happy homecoming is a long one as cornerback Shawn Springs intercepts two passes and blocks a field goal; Cortez Kennedy registers three sacks of Brett Favre; Ricky Watters runs for 125 yards; Jon Kitna passes for two touchdowns; and linebacker Chad Brown has 12 tackles.
1987: The Seahawks push their record to 5-2 during the strike-interrupted season by posting a 28-17 victory over the Minnesota Vikings at the Kingdome as Dave Krieg passes for three touchdowns in the team’s third consecutive win.
A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks’ history that occurred on Sept. 6:
1992 – The Bengals beat the Seahawks 21-3 at the Kingdome in Tom Flores’ first game as coach. John Kasay’s 40-yard field goal provides the Seahawks’ only points, as Kelly Stouffer is sacked six times and the Bengals return fumbles 75 and 22 yards for touchdowns.
1998 – The Seahawks open their season with a 36-0 victory over the Eagles in Philadelphia. The defense collects nine sacks – 2.5 by Michael Sinclair – and Shawn Springs returns an interception 42 yards for a touchdown in the Seahawks’ first shutout since Week 14 of the 1986 season. On offense, Ahman Green rushes for 100 yards on only six carries and Warren Moon throws two TD passes to Joey Galloway.
CANTON, Ohio – The Cortez Kennedy memorabilia included in the displays at the Pro Football Hall of Fame to commemorate his induction this weekend included one picture and several words that seemed very familiar.
On one of the walls leading into the gift shop at the Hall is a photo taken by longtime team photographer Corky Trewin. Overlaid on the photo is a quote I got from cornerback and former teammate Shawn Springs while doing the story on Kennedy being voted to the Seahawks’ 35th Anniversary team.
“I tell people all the time that Cortez Kennedy was probably the best football player I ever played with and I’ve played with some great football players,” reads the Springs’ comment that is now included in the Hall of Fame. “But Tez was just incredible.”
In the newspaper biz, there’s an old saying about words and pictures telling the story. This picture and these words come with a story.
The nattering nabobs of negativity delight in kicking the Seahawks for the first-round draft choices they have wasted on a trio of quarterbacks – Dan McGwire in 1991 (Chuck Knox wanted Brett Favre, Ken Behring wanted McGwire); Rick Mirer in 1993 (an influential member of the scouting department assured everyone there was no need to trade up a spot to take Drew Bledsoe with the first overall pick); and the 1989 first-round pick they traded to the Cardinals for the right to Kelly Stouffer, who was drafted by St. Louis in 1987 but refused to sign with the Arizona-bound club).
In addition to the franchise’s daft in the draft, however, there have been even more deft moves in the first round.
Just check this lineup: Jacob Green in 1980; Kenny Easley in 1981; Curt Warner in 1983; John L. Williams in 1986; Cortez Kennedy in 1990; Joey Galloway in 1995; Shawn Springs and Walter Jones in 1997; Shaun Alexander in 2000; Steve Hutchinson in 2001; Marcus Trufant in 2003; and Earl Thomas in 2010.
All but Galloway ended up playing in the Pro Bowl – with Jones going nine times and Kennedy eight times. One is the only player in franchise history to be voted league MVP – Alexander in 2005. Two were voted NFL Defensive Player of the Year – Easley in 1984, Kennedy in 1992. Four are in the team’s 10-member Ring of Honor – Green, Easley, Warner and Kennedy. Eight were voted to the franchise’s 35th Anniversary team – Green, Easley, Kennedy, Springs, Jones, Alexander, Hutchinson and Trufant.
One is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame – Kennedy. Another will end up there – Jones.
But who is the best of the best – or crème de la crème, if you will?
This eight-day exercise to determine the team’s top pick in each round of the draft started because someone at NFL.com listed the best first-round picks in the 32 spots. The only Seahawk on that list was Walter Jones (at No. 6), so it’s difficult to argue that he isn’t the team’s best first-rounder, as well.
Jones played at a Pro Bowl level – no, an All-Pro level – from the first day he stepped on the field in a Seahawks uniform as a rookie in 1997 to his final game in 2008. In between, there were those nine Pro Bowl berths, six All-Pro selections and in 2006 he was named the top player in the league by The Sporting News. Not the best lineman, the best player. Period.
The Seahawks already have retired his No. 71 jersey and he will be the next player inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor.
Connect the dots between all that, and it creates a portrait of the best first-round draft choice in franchise history. Longevity. Productivity. Durability. Dominance. That was Walter Jones.