Posted by Kip Earlywine
Wow. I just don’t know what to say. After waiting what felt like 5 minutes for Goodell to read the Seahawks card after they handed it in and hearing the result, I sat in stunned silence for about a minute, and then I told my brother and father, who I was watching the draft with, “it could be worse.” I started to wonder when was the last time I was so unpleasantly surprised by a Seahawks first round pick. I thought back to Lawrence Jackson, but even then, Jackson was a fringe first round prospect and not considered as much of a reach. Plus, Rob Rang had predicted Seattle would take Jackson on the eve of the draft, so it wasn’t totally out of the blue. (More after the jump).
Then I realized pretty much exactly the last time I felt this way, and it was when Tim Ruskell made his very first pick as Seahawks GM, taking Chris Spencer. Spencer was taken 26th overall, an “out of the blue” pick, and was in the minds of many a huge reach in the first round. Carpenter played left tackle for ‘Bama, but make no mistake, he’s a right guard in the NFL, possibly a pretty good one, but a project of sorts with an uncertain future. Could he play Right tackle? Maybe, but his footwork looks too slow to me vs. the edge rush and he is too much of a grabber with his hands- he has a style that would rack up holding penalties at tackle, but you could minimize that issue by kicking him inside.
I kind of freaked out when Seattle took Spencer, then calmed later and ultimately felt indifferent about it, though still disappointed. Ironically enough, Spencer would ultimately be the best first round pick Tim Ruskell would ever make, although maybe that isn’t saying much.
I don’t expect every piece of information we get to be 100% accurate. For example, our source last year told us that Hasselbeck would start the final game against the Rams, but the team changed its mind after we heard that information. Similarly, we heard yesterday that Seattle would stress BPA over need today. They didn’t. Its abundantly clear that Seattle wanted to take a guard early in this draft, and with Pouncey and Watkins off the board, and no trade partner on hand, Seattle was forced to run their card in with a guy who I’m sure was a distant 3rd on their list, a guy they could have easily gotten after a move into the 2nd round.
I get it though. Seattle needs two new starting guards, not just one. Further, you can’t bank on getting a starting guard in free agency later. Its believed that when the NFL lockout ends, we’ll have the same rules temporarily in place as last year. Those rules include no salary cap and a stipulation that says a “final 8” team can’t sign anybody until they lose a player first. Seattle beat the Saints and were the 8th team of those final 8. If say Robert Gallery is a hot item on the free agent market, Seattle would have its hands tied until one of their own players signed elsewhere. Knowing that, it made addressing guard an urgent need for the Seahawks. By reaching for a guard at #25, the Seahawks may not get a future HoF, but they do get a guy they can feel pretty confident can start at right guard right away. The best guard available at #57 would be a guy you’d hope would be able to start at day 1 in a best case scenario. That’s a big risk. And in my mind, I can see how that could justify such a reach.
Helping this case was New Orleans breaking my heart by selecting Cameron Jordan the pick before Seattle. I was rooting for him to fall for 15 picks in a row and he almost made it. So its not like Seattle took Carpenter with a consensus great pick at an area of need like Cam Jordan still on the board or anything. I’ve made it known that I’m not a fan of Colorado’s Jimmy Smith, and I’ve made peace with the team not having Mallett on their draft boards for scheme reasons. Had the pick been mine to make, I would have taken Colin Kaepernick, but truthfully Kaepernick at #25 is every bit the reach that Carpenter is. And though its unlikely, who knows. Maybe the Seahawks will still get Kaepernick in round 2 either with luck or a savvy trade. He’s still out there.
Before I ramble anymore, let me start over and talk about the rest of the first round.
- I loved that San Francisco took Aldon Smith with so many superior options staring them in the face. Smith is a good player, but that was a big reach I thought.
- I guess the rumors about Shanahan and Gabbert were a complete smokescreen. Even when Gabbert fell unexpectedly into Washington’s lap, Shanahan traded the pick. I can’t say I’m terribly surprised, Gabbert has some real questions about his deep ball and that probably scared Shanahan off. Washington still needs a quarterback, and Kaepernick could be a target in round two.
- I was slightly surprised, but very happy to see the Titans select Jake Locker. What a great landing spot. That division, once epic, is softening up and was weakest division in the NFL last year outside of the NFC West. Locker needs a good offensive line, a good running game, a decent defense, and some decent weapons. The Titans can provide that. As long as the Titans are smart enough to use Locker for his mobility, I’m expecting him to be at least a solid quarterback long term.
- I howled with laughter when Minnesota took Christian Ponder. I thought Seattle gave up too much for Charlie Whitehurst, and to me, Ponder and Whitehurst are not that far apart as prospects.
- Fairley and Suh are going to be the defensive equivalent of Walt and Hutch. Detroit, post-Millen, has a hell of a front office, and that’s a defensive core you can ride to the superbowl. I liked that pick also because it kept Fairley out of St. Louis. They settled for Quinn, who has great upside, but he’s pretty limited and to me carries every bit as much risk as Fairley does.
- Mike Holmgren traded the 6th overall pick for two 1sts, a 2nd, and two 4ths- and that pick was fittingly used to acquire a very good receiver. Seeing that go down, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the fleecing that was the Joey Galloway trade- perhaps Holmgren’s best move during his tenure here. Jones is a great player, but really Atlanta? Holmgren later moved up to get Phil Taylor, a player I’m a huge fan of. Holmgren gets an A+++ for day one. So far, his second stint as GM is going better than his first.
- The Cardinals made a very Arizona Cardinals pick at #5, taking an extremely good player who won’t actually help them be any better. Peterson has real HoF potential, but its not going to matter if the Cardinals are banking on Marc Bulger to save their franchise.
The one silver lining to drafting James Carpenter is that he played for Alabama, and Alabama played in the SEC, and we’ve got tons of free SEC games in their entirety to watch as scouting material. I always encourage Seattle to take the best players they can, but failing that, drafting a guy from the SEC is a nice bonus for us bloggers. I’ll have a scouting report up sometime this weekend. From what little I’ve seen I think he could actually be a darn good right guard, but it will be an unknown how good he is there until he actually plays the position.
I do feel there is a little bit of egg on my face after writing the first two rounds preview yesterday and naming off several dozen players, none of whom was Carpenter. To add insult to injury, Carpenter didn’t match the profile (tall and skinny) of lineman acquired by Tom Cable in Oakland and Atlanta. Shows how much I know.