Thoughts on day one of the draft

April 28th, 2011 | Written by Kip Earlywine

Surprising, disappointing, but ultimately sensible

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.

32 Responses to “Thoughts on day one of the draft”

  1. Derek says:

    So you are projecting Carpenter as RG and not RT? Also is there a difference in LG and RG like there is for LT and RT, as in what you look for in a prospect?

    • Kip Earlywine says:

      I don’t know much about Carpenter but that is my opinion for now. In terms of “looking the part”, he looks like a right guard to me. But maybe that opinion will change after scouting him.

      Personally, I’d rather he be a guard anyway. Seattle may still take Lee Ziemba later on and Stacy Andrews figures to be solid, maybe even good, at right tackle.

      • Derek says:

        I just watched the interview with PC and JS and they said that they expect Carpenter to compete immediately for the starting RT spot, presumably with Stacy Andrews.

      • Derek says:

        And you did get the part about PC and JS wanting road grader types spot on!

        • Kip Earlywine says:

          I heard (maybe it was Rob), that Carpenter is a finesse guy, but he looks plenty “squatty” to me and shouldn’t struggle for power in the running game. I’m really looking forward to educating myself further on this player over the next couple days.

          • Derek says:

            Pete Carroll used the exact term, “road grader”, and in an interview, Tom Cable said that he wouldn’t have picked him if he was a finesse tackle. Can’t wait to see your thoughts and scoting report.

          • Kip Earlywine says:

            hahaha, that’s awesome. Sounds like if nothing else, Seattle targeted the exact right kind of guy. I have nothing against finesse players, but my endorsement of the FO’s build-through-the-line strategy is because we just don’t have anybody, except maybe Andrews, who fits the “road grader” label and we need to add more of those guys to make a smashmouth offense work.

    • Coug1990 says:

      Very true. Both Pete Carroll and Tom Cable said he will play right tackle during the after draft press conference. The Seahawks really want to get the running game going and protect the QB better than they had last season.

    • Blake says:

      In a man scheme, the RG is the bastard LG (like the RT of the LT) because the LG is often the side pulling in a power run since it would be towards the strong side. The guard positions are more closely related in skill set than the two tackle positions, but the LG is generally the better/faster one for pulling. In a zone scheme, however, it is generally more balanced skillsets across the line due to the lack of pulls and traps. So for our scheme: No, there is not a difference in what you look for in a prospect.

      I like your reasoning Kip, but it is still a terrible pick from a need and positional value standpoint. I understand that the end of this draft was talent deficient, but could we not do what the Pats did to the Saints (sodomy)? I hate being the stupid team in the shitty division where it rains all the time that chooses the 3rd rounder at 25. Saban was shocked Carpenter was picked. His reaction made it seem like they went to high school together and he was a faint memory, but lo and behold, Carpenter was Saban’s left tackle for 2 seasons. Unbelievable. 34 inch arms are not long enough for a tackle at 6045. The Ravens probably passed their pick because they were laughing so fucking hard at the idiots in front of them; they made up the trade excuse to save face.

  2. Dan says:

    It is hard to believe that Seahawks relied upon Tom Cable’s opinion of Carpenter and ignored both Kip and Blake.

  3. James says:

    Kip, I am a Univ of Alabama alum and have seen pretty much all their games the past few years. James Carpenter was the 1st team all-SEC left tackle this year. He went against the top DE’s, like Arakpo and Dunlap, and won all those battles. He has much quicker feet than Carimi, and is a far superior run blocker than Sherrod. At 6-4.5 and 321 lbs, he will be the heaviest lineman on the Hawks, unless Gallery comes aboard, yet he pass blocks far better than most RT’s. He is not an Okung, but is a great pick at 25. OL is where we needed the most help and he and Okung will hold the corners for the next ten years. There will finally be a Seahawks running game again.

  4. jdr says:

    The way Seattles O line gets hurt every year it not a bad thing if a guy can fill multiple positions in a pinch. I hope we get Marvin Austin at 57.

  5. Derek says:

    It would look funny if Stacy Andrews and Robert Gallery were our two guards and then Carpenter and Okung at tackle. We would have two 6’4″ guys on the outside and then two 6’7″ guys on the inside.

    Also does this change Ungers fit on the line? I really hope we re-sign Spencer and then Unger could be solid depth at both guard and center. Does Unger have starter potential?

  6. Karlos says:

    Ok so we didn’t find a trade partner at #25, ok fine but why didn’t we jus sit on the clock until we had one? I think it was at 28 where the Pats & Saints made a deal & I can’t help but think “THE PATS COULD OF BEEN US!!!”. On the flip-side I do believe Carpenter was the next guard to go & Seattle had Guard as a priority over D-line. I truely think Pete knows that with his hybrid 3-4 he doesn’t need the greatest prospects Clemons, Brock, Cole, & Bryant will not strike fear into a 3yr old girl. Yes, I wanted Jimmy Smith in a division with Larry F. & on a team with the ever so fastly declining Marcus T. We had a top 10 talent staring us in the face & let him walk… Sometimes you have to take a chance, their are Pacman Jones’s but their are also Randy Moss’s with charecter issues. Ray Lewis better be ready to play mama & watch this kid lol.

  7. FWBrodie says:

    If the first round was a baseball game, the Saints just crushed a belt-high fastball with the bases loaded for a grand salami. The Seahawks drew a walk. Hey, at least they’re on base.

    Carpenter shocked the hell out of me, but the pick feels right. My initial reaction is that it seems to fall in line with what Pete Carroll and Tom Cable want to do on offense. Versatility, could backup LT or kick inside to guard, sturdy, reliable, athletic. He seems like more of a turn you and seal you run blocker than a guy who’s going to be plowing holes in defenses, but that fits the ZBS. I love his feet in pass pro, but hate his hands sometimes. He’s reaching and grabbing and body blocking a lot. He’ll have to work on his hands. His wide frame makes him tough to get around though. Nice safe, logical pick that helps an offensive line that has a lot of giant holes.

    • FWBrodie says:

      After watching some more video on the SEC website, one thing I’ve noticed is that Carpenter really excels at the cut block.

    • FWBrodie says:

      Also shows great technique on the goalline/short-yardage blocks. He gets real low and seems to find another level of power. This could be something Cable really liked. Can’t remember which back it was, but they were able to slide into the space Carpenter created on the goalline for a TD from the one when it seemed like there was no other forward push. This is encouraging.

  8. Dude says:

    This is such a bad pick. This team has spent so many 1/2nd round picks on the line in the last 5 years. It would be one thing if they were any good.

    Kip, maybe you disagree, but I just dont see how a team with no Star Players at all passes on a guy like Ingram or Prince. How the hell did we pass on Prince? CB was our weakest position other than QB.

    I just get so damn mad when we pass on the best RB or second best CB for maybe the third to fourth best G. I dont care where he played, I dont even care if he is a Pro Bowler in 3 years. This was a bad pick.

    This team will be lucky to win 3 games this year. Even IF we have the best line in all of football next year, we wont by the way, it doesn’t matter because we are going to average 10 points a game. We have B- running backs and no one to throw or catch the ball.

    So Kip, if you could, please start breaking down Andrew Luck.

  9. Kurt says:

    I’m warming up to the pick. If you look at our ” potential ” starting O-line it’s certainly upgrarded on paper at least.Okung, Gallery ,Unger, Andrews, Carpenter. Think Beast Mode can run behind these guys? Forsett can certainly hide behind them and pick his holes.

    • Kurt says:

      Tom Cable quote ” we would not of taken him if he were a finesse player. Thats not my style” I love this, they are working on building a nasty aggressive O- line. Who doesn’t want this? Don’t forget that we are still in a rebuilding mode and it won’t happen in 1 or 2 drafts. Rest assured we will get there.

  10. Ryan says:

    I am a die hard Seahawks fan that feels I have prepared as much for this draft as the Hawks have. To be honest I am disappointed in this pick however I may be proved wrong here shortly. I don’t blame the FO for picking what they feel fills the biggest need as that is standard.

    My frustration comes from what seems like our inability to adapt to the evolving draft. I get it, we were trading back but when that quickly became an unlikely reality we had to be sitting there thinking what is the best move for this franchise. We keep saying we are not 1 pick away from the SuperBowl in reference to reaching for a QB but how is this pick any different? We passed on potential ELITE talent to fill a gap with a good role player.

    I could live with pick a Bowers or Smith and the risk/reward that comes with it. That is at least a stab at pillars to build this team around. To me at the end of the day this pick is far too “safe” for the team Seahawks will be in this upcoming season.

    PC and JS I think you are great and I look forward to this upcoming season but please do your best to add talent the rest of this draft without reaching for positions of need.

    • Karlos says:

      I really do think Pete tried his damndest to run the ball last year & developed a complex because he couldn’t. Now he has vowed to himself that we will run the ball successfully by any means. I agree somebody had to take a chance on Randy Moss & his Charecter concerns & alot of teams passed. Needless ta say Jerry Jones is still kickin himself for passin because Dez Bryant may be his make-up pick that won’t pan out.

      • Dude says:

        So he should have Drafted Ingram. I am so with you Ryan, this team never takes risk. They love the “safe” pick.

  11. Sean Harder says:

    I am a die hard Seahawks fan that feels I have prepared as much for this draft as the Hawks have. To be honest I am disappointed in this pick however I may be proved wrong here shortly. I don’t blame the FO for picking what they feel fills the biggest need as that is standard.

    My frustration comes from what seems like our inability to adapt to the evolving draft. I get it, we were trading back but when that quickly became an unlikely reality we had to be sitting there thinking what is the best move for this franchise. We keep saying we are not 1 pick away from the SuperBowl in reference to reaching for a QB but how is this pick any different? We passed on potential ELITE talent to fill a gap with a good role player.

    I could live with pick a Bowers or Smith and the risk/reward that comes with it. That is at least a stab at pillars to build this team around. To me at the end of the day this pick is far too “safe” for the team Seahawks will be in this upcoming season.

    PC and JS I think you are great and I look forward to this upcoming season but please do your best to add talent the rest of this draft without reaching for positions of need.

    We should have picked up Alexander Ovechkin from the Bills over this guy. THOROUGHLY DISSAPOINTED.

  12. D says:

    If you don’t have the big boys up front to open up holes, it doesn’t matter who you have at running back. We already have a good RB in Lynch. He was the #12 pick in 2007. What good would it do to have Lynch and Ingram? Is Ingram going to play RT? Ingram and Carpenter were teammates, I’m pretty sure Ingram gave a lot of credit to his OL when he won the heisman. Carpenter was a safe pick, but he was also a “smart” pick.

  13. Snoot says:

    the polarity of opinion is interesting.

    I would like to know what trade down scenarios Schneider turned down yesterday.

    A lot of people here and there are still talking about Unger being our center. I wouldn’t think so. Unless maybe he married the weight room this past year. And I wonder how expensive it would be to resign Spencer. I think Spencer is slooowly geting better each year and would be far superior than Unger.