When I started this blog in 2008, the Seahawks were well on their way to a four-win season with the Holmgren era grinding to an unsatisfactory conclusion. Seattle had the 4th overall pick – the first time since 1997 they would select in the top five. I wanted to analyse how Seattle would go about making such an important decision over who to pick. They took Aaron Curry and the rest is history.
Even though the pick was a bust, it launched an exciting period for fans who obsess about the draft (and there are many, rightly or wrongly). In 2010 Seattle had two first round picks in the top 15 and were also welcoming a new regime with Pete Carroll at the helm. The following year it was just as interesting to see how they approached picking late in the first round after an unexpected playoff run despite finishing 7-9 in the regular season.
This year the Seahawks had the #12 pick but moved down to #15 before taking Bruce Irvin. And I think that really sums up where the Seahawks are right now – in the middle of the pack. At a crossroads as we wait to see if they’ll move forward or backward. But after three years of re-building, they’ve taken a team that had precious little and a spine has been built. Key defensive components are signed up to long deals (Chris Clemons, Brandon Mebane, Red Bryant) while the secondary is young and ranked among the best in the league. There is some talent on offense with a few remaining (and sizeable) question marks, particularly at quarterback and receiver.
Nevertheless, the Seahawks will be hoping the 2013 draft provides a landmark moment. Perhaps – just maybe – they’ll be able to take the best player available… and mean it.
All teams talk about BPA, but need usually wins the day whatever the soundbyte. When Carroll/Schneider drafted Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, James Carpenter and Bruce Irvin in the first round, all were big-time needs. A lot of people would argue some of those picks definitely weren’t BPA. The best teams – and the teams who manage to remain consistently competitive – can afford to ignore need because they have the spine of the team laid out. Pittsburgh are a great example – they have the defense, the quarterback, the weapons. They win football games every year. They play in Super Bowls. And when they rock up in the 20’s come April and see David DeCastro sitting there, they can take him. Sure – the o-line is seemingly a perennial need for Pittsburgh, but they win anyway. The DeCastro pick was a true BPA situation.
And the Seahawks will want to join Pittsburgh in that position soon.
Next April could be the moment when they edge closer to that dream, depending on certain factors. Most importantly, it’ll depend on whether they feel comfortable with the quarterback situation. Can Matt Flynn or Russell Wilson earn long term enthusiasm as the starter? Despite the on-going competition in pre-season, it still feels like they’re both fighting for a shot to prove themselves. Even if they lead Seattle to a winning season, it won’t necessarily guarantee long term faith. After all – Alex Smith received no such backing in San Francisco and rest assured the Niners will continue to look at different quarterbacks, not just guys named Peyton Manning.
There is, of course, a big difference between keeping an eye on things and feeling like you need to do what Washington did in April. The Seahawks know if they feel comfortable with Flynn or Wilson, they can see how things play out. But if quarterback play is a major issue again in 2012, you sense this regime will almost feel obliged to make a big move. Eventually you just have to do something, just ask Mike Shanahan. Teams get desperate. Seattle doesn’t want to be desperate.
Let’s say Flynn or Wilson light things up and actually looks the part. Let’s go a step further and project the Seahawks to be picking between 16-32 in April. Without any major setbacks (injuries, serious loss of form) it’s hard to single out many crushing needs. A receiver would be a potential need and the offensive line may require reinforcements depending on how things play out. A truly excellent three-technique would be a nice thing to have. But there’d be no desperation in the war room as with previous years.
Then let’s look at the alternative. Seattle struggles at QB. They pick between 1-15 in the first round. Suddenly there’s pressure to move up and get Matt Barkley/Tyler Wilson/Logan Thomas/etc. The Seahawks are not in a comfort zone and know a mistake could be fatal. Of course, nobody should be surprised that the two scenarios are based around how the team performs at quarterback. That’s why it’s the most important position in football.
After years of talking about the importance of certain picks and a lot of hand wringing about what needs to happen, I think a lot of people would appreciate the chance to take a more laid back approach to the draft in 2013. BPA rather than QB ASAP. That could happen, the Seahawks may have a future based purely around simply taking the best guy available. Or maybe we’re destined to spend the entire college season studying QB tape again – just like we’ve done for the last five draft classes – wondering if after 20 years Seattle will spend a first round pick on a quarterback.