Grading the 2012 Draft: Rounds 1-3

Draft grades are silly

Written by Kip Earlywine

Grading a draft right after it happens is… well… it’s kind of stupid.  As much fun as it is to read good (or blistering) reviews, we all know this to be the case.  But as much as ignorant people allow those draft grades to make up their minds for them, and for as much as smart people love making fun of grades before any of the players have taken a professional snap, the truth is actually somewhere in the middle.  Let me give you an example to illustrate what I mean.

Richard Sherman wasn’t a pro-bowler last year, but he should have been, and he’ll probably have many pro-bowls in his future.  By just about every metric, he was among the best corners in the league last season.  Richard Sherman was a 5th round pick just last year.  If we were to do a re-draft right now, Sherman might be a top 10 pick.

But here’s the thing, Seattle didn’t have to trade up into the top 10 to get Richard Sherman.  He was under the radar.  Way under the radar.  Sherman was so far under the radar that even his college coach didn’t draft him.  Even the Seahawks didn’t think Sherman would be this good this quickly.  That said, while it’s best to grade a draft after seeing how that player pans out in real games, we also can’t forget how these players were graded at the time.  If you know you can get a good player later, you take him later and you take another good player sooner.  Especially if that player is a guy that might be a product of the system.

Seattle did exactly that with Kam Chancellor, a player they had rated much higher than the 5th round.  They could have taken Chancellor in the late second or with either of their 4th rounders, but they put it off because they (correctly) deciphered that Chancellor’s lack of top speed would allow him to be available later.  John Schneider is a hell of a poker player, and his ability to read the hands of other front offices has proven valuable time after time.

Seattle could have taken those players earlier, but because they didn’t, they pocketed players like Walter Thurmond, Golden Tate, or KJ Wright.  Knowing when to take a player is just as important as the player himself.  And in that respect, we can at least partially grade the 2012 draft right now.

So rather than grade this draft based on my own ratings for the players, I’m going to grade this draft based on decision making.  Did they accomplish the team’s draft goals?  Did they draft players earlier than they needed to?  Did they get good value from their trades?  In other words, when John Schneider went to bed Saturday night, did he sleep soundly knowing that he just had the draft of his dreams, or did he lie awake all night second guessing the decisions he made?

Before I start with the grades, let’s first state the goals of this front office had before the draft.  This is what our inside source told us the front office wanted to do before the draft:

  1. Use the first round pick to upgrade the pass rush as much as possible, assuming that Richardson doesn’t make it
  2. Add a running back in rounds 1-3.
  3. Add a quarterback in rounds 4-6 (possibly earlier) .

Pete and John’s plan was to spend the #12 pick on a pass rusher, although they would have at least considered Trent Richardson had he fallen to that pick.  They also really liked this year’s group of running backs and thought it would be a great opportunity to draft Lynch’s future successor out of this group.  Finally, they were impressed by a lot of quarterbacks outside of the first round and felt this would be a good year to finally draft a quarterback.

In addition to those goals, the front office had also stated on numerous occasions that they wanted to get faster at linebacker.

While it wasn’t a stated goal or something we were told by an inside source, an assumed fifth goal of this front office was to add picks in the draft.  Seattle’s draft philosophy is built around drafting by volume, and the Seahawks entered this draft with only six picks after selecting nine in each of their previous two drafts.

(As an aside:  This is why Rob and I had Upshaw as a lock at #12 for so long, and never even bothered talking about players like DeCastro or Floyd even though everyone else was.  We got the name wrong (we were never told Upshaw was the guy, but had heard Carroll liked Upshaw a lot from three different sources), but we did at least get the position right.  In our SBN mock draft, we had Seattle taking a pass rusher at #12 and a fast linebacker at #43.  We got the names wrong, but we got the areas exactly right.)

So with that in mind, here’s how I’d grade the judgment exercised by the Seahawks at each pick:

With the 15th overall pick, the Seahawks select Bruce Irvin (grade: A+)

This was one of the most shocking picks in recent NFL Draft history, being rivaled only by Tyson Alualu by Jacksonville at #10 a couple years ago.  Giving this pick an “A+” grade might seem contrarian at best or LSD-laced at worst.  However, the more I learn, the more this pick is looking like a master stroke.

By now you probably know that seven teams had Bruce Irvin graded as a top 15 talent.  We’ve heard plenty of rumors about teams like the 49ers and Chargers planning to take Irvin when their pick came up.  Now we’re hearing that the Jets had planned on taking Irvin at the very next pick (Chicago at 19 and Green Bay at 28 were known to be considering Irvin too).  The Seahawks wanted to add the best pass rusher in the draft, and with the possible exception of Fletcher Cox, it appears numerous other NFL teams (including a few known for their defenses) shared the Seahawks assessment of Irvin.  In a recent press conference, Carroll told reporters that he was certain the Jets would take Irvin if the Seahawks had moved down again.  It turns out Carroll was right.

A lot of people graded this pick poorly because Irvin didn’t grade in the 1st round on draft analyst’s draft boards- including mine (group think strikes even me sometimes).  What those people fail to realize is that amateur draft rankings are only estimates and are not binding.  Bruce Irvin would not have slipped into the second or third round just because draftniks thought he would.  What actually matters is how NFL scouting departments and front offices rate prospects, and multiple front offices had a top 15 grade on Irvin.  If Seattle had gone a different direction, it would be the New York Jets getting heckled for taking Irvin right now instead.

Irvin comes with a lot of risk, but if he didn’t he wouldn’t have reached the 12th pick in the first place, much less the 15th. He hasn’t been coached up as a pass rusher at all.  He’s clueless with his hands.  Despite looking very muscular and putting up a respectable bench press total, Irvin struggles with upper body strength against linemen.  Irvin has decently long arms too, so his upper body struggles very likely point to a lack of technique.  Irvin is one of the rawest players in the entire draft; he’s an athlete playing pass rusher.

That said, athletically he’s a top five pick.  When used in a 4-3 defensive end role and played wide of the tackle, he was a terror at West Virginia.  He didn’t just have good production, he had good looking production, with incredible displays of speed and pass rush ability that were at times jaw dropping.

Even when I had Irvin going in the 3rd round a few weeks ago, I said on this blog that he was the best pure pass rusher in the whole draft despite that grade.  Irvin has rare speed to go along with fantastic change of direction skills and killer motor.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more impressive “hustle sacks” player than Irvin.  John Schneider compared Irvin’s speed to Dwight Freeney, Von Miller, and Jevon Kearse.

If Irvin were drafted by a lot of other teams, I might question the pick.  Not so in Seattle.  The Mountaineers used Irvin in a variety of looks and from that sampling it was clear that Irvin was at his best in a 4-3 end role- the wider off the tackle the better.  Seattle’s 9-tech LEO position provides the perfect “training wheels” position for Irvin that allows him to produce early in his career and build confidence while still learning and improving his craft.  Pete Carroll knows a thing or two about coaching up defensive players.  I can’t guarantee this pick won’t flop, but I like Irvin’s chances of working out in Seattle better than just about anywhere else.

I’m not expecting Bruce Irvin to have an Aldon Smith sized rookie year, but I do think there is a basis for the comparison.  Smith was a widely ridiculed top 10 pick this time last year.  Irvin was a widely ridiculed top 15 pick.  As a rookie Smith nearly broke the rookie sacks record while only being used as a 3rd down pass rusher.  Irvin will be very similar, inheriting the “Raheem Brock role” of a situational pass rusher that will occasionally spell Clemons at the LEO.  By Carroll’s estimate, Brock saw nearly two thirds of Seattle’s snaps last year (although a source that tracks snaps put it closer to 50%).  Irvin is a different player than Smith, but it’s not inconceivable that he could have an eight to ten sack rookie season as he is a perfect fit for Seattle’s system.

If Irvin develops, he has scary upside.  If he doesn’t there is a chance Seattle could still wring some production out of him anyway based purely on how his athleticism matches the wide nine pass rush role on Seattle’s defense.  Seattle had a top 10 defense last season in both yardage and points allowed while also having a below average pass rush.  If Irvin reaches his full potential, just imagine where Seattle’s defense could be headed.

Seattle didn’t just take Irvin at #12 either, they traded down as far as they possibly could have while still getting their guy.  The Eagles generously rewarded the Seahawks with a 4th and 6th rounder for the privilege, which also helped the team achieve its assumed fifth goal- expand their number of draft picks.  Those picks turned into pass rushing defensive tackle Jaye Howard and another highly intriguing big corner with tools in Jeremy Lane.  Given that Howard comes with the Dan Quinn seal of approval and that Pete Carroll has been money with late round corners, Seattle added not one but three interesting defensive prospects with their first pick.  The combined upside of Seattle’s first round haul is in the stratosphere, and for a front office that has won on so many of their long shot gambles through good coaching and proper scheming, it’s hard not be excited about that.

With the 47th overall pick, the Seahawks select Bobby Wagner (grade: B-)

Seattle gets the speedy coverage linebacker they needed, and gained valuable extra picks in the process, but I’m not completely convinced that Seattle would have repeated their actions here if given a redo.  John and Pete’s press conference enthusiasm for Wagner was noticeably less enthusiastic than for their Irvin or Wilson picks.  Mychal Kendricks graded higher than Bobby Wagner on most, though not all, draft boards.  Kendricks also had the Pac-12 connection and had the higher upside of the two, which would have appealed to Pete Carroll on both counts.

Despite what Mel Kiper thinks, Bobby Wagner was not a reach, and if not for the Morris Claiborne trade, Wagner wouldn’t have even made it to the 47th pick.  Depending on how Seattle graded the other linebackers, they may have really dodged a bullet.  Losing both Wagner and Kendricks after moving down four spots would have been a minor fiasco.

I’ve made it no secret I was highly impressed by Lavonte David.  I was hardly alone in that assessment, as a lot of mock drafts had David going well before the 43rd pick.  Seattle passed on David twice.  That may prove to be a poor decision in hindsight.  I can’t say I’m completely surprised though, as David is a classic Tim Ruskell second round pick, and Pete Carroll has tended to take a different route in the second round.  David is a prospect that might already be playing his best football, and Pete seems to gravitate towards players who’s best football is still ahead of them.

And what about Zach Brown?  The team rated him very highly at one point early in the draft process.  It might have possibly broken their hearts to see the Eagles nab Kendricks right in front of them, but there were still three or four quality linebackers left who had speed.  Why not trade down again?

Overall, the way they handled the 2nd round picked looks “botched” to me.  That said, the Seahawks did satisfy their goal here- they did get a fast linebacker, maybe the best man coverage linebacker in the whole draft.  I’ve been saying for a while that Wagner seemed like a Pete Carroll kind of linebacker to me, even if I had him graded lower than most.  Seattle also added two more picks with their trade down, putting their draft total up to a whopping ten picks.  Those picks turned into Korey Toomer, a toolsy linebacker I had mentioned before the draft that had drawn strong interest from NFL teams, and Greg Scruggs, a guy who John Schneider called his favorite value pick in the draft.

Wagner probably won’t emerge as much of a play making middle linebacker, but he has a good chance to be the kind of “glue that keeps the defense together” middle linebacker that has a ton of hidden value.  His speed will also help reduce the liability Red Bryant presents against speedy running backs, and Wagner’s ability to cover ground should dramatically improve Seattle’s ability to defend passes to running backs and tight ends- a major weakness on the defense.

With the 75th overall pick, the Seahawks select Russell Wilson (grade: A+)

I wasn’t expecting Seattle to draft Russell Wilson this early, but I do not think they reached in doing so.  Pete Carroll told reporters that he was contacted by two teams who let him know that they would have drafted Wilson later in the same round had the Seahawks not done so. I graded Russell Wilson very highly and I haven’t been ashamed to admit it.  Though as I alluded to in the opening of this article, you don’t always have to take a top talent early if you know you don’t have to.  Wilson has the talent to be one of those guys who goes in the first round of a future draft re-do article, but there was no need to take Wilson earlier than this.  John Schneider and Pete Carroll badly wanted Wilson, and got him at essentially the latest possible moment they could have.

Wilson has his share of fans in NFL circles, but even they knew that taking Wilson in the first round wasn’t necessary.  Taking him in the second round probably wouldn’t be necessary either.  Drafting well isn’t just about staying true to your board, it’s also about getting guys at the right spots, which can be a tricky thing.  I hate comparing Wilson to Drew Brees, because Brees is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, but Wilson isn’t wrong when he compares his situation to the one Brees faced in 2001.  Like Wilson, Brees was not an under the radar talent in college.  Everyone in the country knew about Drew Brees and the immense amount of talent he possessed.  Like Wilson, Brees led his Big Ten team to a Rose Bowl berth where he lost in a hard fought match to the Pac-10 champion.

And yet, despite his obvious talent, Drew Brees was not a first round pick, sliding to the first pick in the second round.  Every quarterback hungry team in the league passed on Brees in the first.  Why?  Either because they discriminated based on height, or because they thought they could get Brees later based on his perceived market value.  Teams were afraid of drafting Brees early, because if Brees flopped from his lack of height, it would make the pick look so much worse in retrospect.  It’s the kind of first round pick that could very easily cost a GM his job if it goes wrong.

This made the selection of Brees a curious game of chicken.  Teams knew about his talent and what he could do, but who would be the first team to bite and where would it happen?  It’s a process that might best compare to the Japanese “posting” system to determine where Japan’s best end up playing in the Majors.  Players such as Ichiro, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Yu Darvish are famous examples of this.  Teams submit secret bids to the Japanese owner with no knowledge of how much other competing teams bid for.  The team who submits the highest bid wins the rights for the player.

Replace high dollar amounts with a higher draft pick and it’s a very similar idea.  The Seahawks had to play a delicate game of not pulling the trigger too early but also not waiting until it was too late either.  And as we now know, they timed it just right.  If Seattle hadn’t picked Wilson with their 3rd, he wouldn’t be a Seahawk right now.  However Wilson’s career turns out, the Seahawks should be commended for guessing Wilson’s draft stock just right.

So why do I like this pick so much?  Because I could hardly give a damn if Russell Wilson is an inch and a half shorter than Drew Brees.  Any quarterback under 6’2″ is probably going to be a throwing windows quarterback in the NFL.  It’s not like you can be too short to be a throwing windows quarterback either.  It’s simply a question of can you do it or can’t you? Plenty of short quarterbacks have shown they can’t.  Max Hall is two full inches taller than Wilson, but failed miserably in the NFL because he couldn’t see downfield.  He didn’t have the mobility and the skills necessary to overcome his 6’1″ height.  Max Hall was a solid college quarterback at BYU, but concerns about his height proved to be completely justified.

Wilson is a different case.  He’s proven that he can play behind tall NFL lines.  His line at Wisconsin was one of the tallest in the country, NFL included.  Wilson was able to overcome his height because his line pass protected well enough for Wilson to complete his deep drops, and at the back of those five and seven step drops height becomes far less of a factor.  Like Brees, Wilson makes a lot of quick movements in the pocket to look through passing lanes.  Wilson also has a very high release point- you could count his season total of tipped passes on one hand.  After researching Wilson thoroughly, I am convinced he will not fail for height related reasons, assuming that he is schemed correctly.

So why are there so few short quarterbacks in the NFL?  The answer is because their aren’t many short quarterbacks in the college ranks to begin with, much less ones with talent rivaling Wilson’s. Even among the shorter quarterbacks with talent, very few get opportunities in the NFL.  Chandler Harnish has serious talent, but he went one pick away from being undrafted.  Austin Davis is the best quarterback for his school since Brett Favre, and he went undrafted (signed by the Rams).  Bo Levi Mitchell has a lot of talent, but he went undrafted and unsigned, and might end up heading north of the border for his next career move.  And then you have players who don’t know how to overcome their height issues or play for teams that don’t understand how to properly scheme around it.

And while I respect the heck out of NFL scouting departments and front offices for their ability to evaluate talent, I think there are times when group think and mental laziness lead teams to make unfortunate assumptions.  The Seahawks were not one of those teams on Friday.  Pete Carroll knows exactly what he’s getting with Russell Wilson, and in case you didn’t notice, he’s pretty freaking excited about it.  Seattle runs a similar style of offense that Wisconsin used and Pete Carroll is famous for adapting his team to make room for unconventional talents.  The Seahawks and Russell Wilson are a perfect match.

There is a lot more to discuss with Wilson, regarding why he could be great or why he might fall apart.  I’ll save that for a future article.  But for now, I’ll say this:  I truly believe that Russell Wilson will be a starter at some point in his NFL career and given the investment Seattle paid and the unrestrained enthusiasm for Wilson exuded by both Carroll and Schneider, I do not think they drafted Wilson just to compete as a backup- I really believe they drafted Russell Wilson in the hopes that he can be a franchise quarterback.  Pete didn’t compare Wilson to some backup, he compared him to Fran Tarkenton.  And for those comparing Wilson to Seneca Wallace, let’s not forget that it was Pete Carroll himself who once traded away Seneca Wallace for peanuts.

The more I have studied Russell Wilson the more convinced I’ve become that he was going to be a gem in this draft.  Not quite a Drew Brees or Tom Brady level steal, but something that could at least compare to it.  That’s why it was so painful to think about the Seahawks potentially not drafting him, and why I was so excited to hear Wilson’s name called at the 75th pick.  To the outside media, perhaps even to many Seahawks fans, Matt Flynn is the presumptive QB of the future here in Seattle.  I’m not so sure Pete and John see things that way.  The preseason quarterback battle will tell, but I’d bet you the powers that be are secretly pulling for Russell Wilson to emerge from that group.

It can be argued that Seattle should have taken Lamar Miller here, but the blow is softened by the fact that Seattle still landed a very good running back with their next pick anyway.  I had Miller rated higher, but that rating was based off tape alone and didn’t factor whatever that injury concern was that caused Miller to plummet down draft boards.  It’s very possible that Robert Turbin topped Seattle’s draft board for running backs at #75 anyway.

Overall impressions (rounds 1-3):

I wasn’t sure how to feel about the first three rounds of Seattle’s draft at first.  Wagner was fairly low on my list of favored linebackers, and while I was stoked that Seattle wound up drafting my two favorite prospects in the entire draft, I didn’t like the “reach” factor of those first and third round picks.  However, after reading further into the situation, it appears that Irvin was a terrific value at #15 and wouldn’t have lasted another pick.  Russell Wilson similarly would not have lasted much longer.  With that knowledge in hand, I’m able to enjoy the picks for what they are: two high upside selections at positions of supreme importance and massive need.

I also liked that Seattle added four picks with two very small trades down the board.  The only notable options it cost Seattle were Fletcher Cox and Mychal Kendricks, and neither one would have been my preferred option at #15 or #47 anyway, had the call been mine to make.

My first day writing for Seahawks Draft Blog came only a week or so after Pete Carroll was hired here.  I’ve now followed three Pete Carroll / John Schneider drafts with an uncommon degree of attention.  Out of all those drafts I’ve seen Pete Carroll exhibit plenty of excitement, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him as happy to draft a guy as he was for Bruce Irvin or Russell Wilson.  The only other player that even comes close was Earl Thomas in 2010.  Irvin and Wilson have their flaws, but both have the potential to be franchise players.  Pete drafted them knowing those flaws fully well, and he’s got a plan in place to work around them.   If Carroll can get the most out of both of them, watch out.


  1. Kyle

    Nice post, Kip. I cannot disagree with any of it. Drafting Wilson is like approaching the first rise of a roller coaster–it reflects a first-step commitment to a possible franchise QB. While there isn’t the same setback if he doesn’t develop quickly as if we got someone in round 2, I am as nervous as I am exhilarated.

    As a Utah State fan, I was probably _harder_ on Wagner and Turbin in the predraft analysis than I might have been, since I did see their weaknesses more closely than fans at large (except for the top 5 guys or so, most players’ warts grow bigger for me when I get a close look at them). I, like you, probably would have drafted Kendricks or David ahead of Wagner. But I have to say that Wagner has the highest floor of all ten draft picks, and I think that statement needs no defense. At his worst, Wagner is a faster Heater. He is always in the right place, playing smart football. Just adding Wagner makes this team a very good defense (I would’ve rated them only above average before). Finally, Wagner plus Toomer and Scruggs trumps Kendricks, trumps Brown, and I bet will probably trump David.

    • lemonverbena

      You had me at “Wagner is a faster Heater.” Rob said similar during the draft chat and I was relieved to hear it. That was my concern, that we upgrade the Mike after letting Hawthorne walk. I assumed it was a calculated move to get younger and faster at the position, so if Wagner can be as heady and assignment-correct as Hawthorne, that upgrade will have been achieved.

  2. AlaskaHawk

    Kip, I’ve been a little on the fence about this draft. Your writing has helped convince me that PC made good decisions. I like all the players, but mostly questioned the value of
    1. Bruce Irvin as a situational pass rusher vs a three down DE or DT. I like what you wrote, and with coaching I am hoping he will be a terror in the opposing teams backfield. I do think it was a risky pick and am concerned about the possible injury to a light pass rusher.
    2. Wagner isn’t sexy, he is probably the equivalent of Kendricks. He is a safe pick at the right time in the draft.
    3. Wilson, I know your excited. I watched his Gruden interview and now I’m excited. With this pick either Flynn or Wilson will be a backup. One a highly paid backup and the other a soon to be paid backup. And I wonder how this will all shake out when I really thought we would be picking another QB next year in the first round. So next year we will have three QBs to compete. Hmmm.

    Overall – I would give this draft a B. Not particularly sexy, and a lot of questions about whether players will be starters or not.

    • MeatWad

      I always liked Wilson too, but early last month when I sat down at watched Gruden Camp I got excited for the kid. I liked the upside of Osweiler and the height, but that is all. Wilson, I like everything about the kid, but the height. If he continues with the chip on his shoulder and mentality he should be great. Out of the QB’s he was my third choice. I cannot help but feel bad for Cousins despite not wanting Hawks to draft him. He is in a bad situation

  3. A. Simmons

    I haven’t been this excited to see two draft picks play than I am to see Bruce Irvin and Russell Wilson. When is the last time that Seattle drafted the number one athlete at a key position like DE in the entire draft? We drafted an athletic freak whose production matches his combine numbers who is amazingly still a raw player.

    Russell Wilson is a first round pick if he is 3 inches taller. The only real red flag for Russell is his height. All the measurables are high. His intelligence is high. Intangibles high. He’s just too short.

    Preseason is going to be exciting this year.

  4. A. Simmons

    Bruce Irvin is more athletic than Wagner. You can bank on that. I watched them both play. Wagner is fast. Irvin is an athletic freak of nature. If he doesn’t suffer a serious injury, he’ll break a 100 sacks, maybe higher depending on how long he plays. He’s ridiculous.

    • Kyle

      Nobody said Wagner is more athletic. But given their positions, Irvin could still bust. Wagner will not. Irvin needs to develop moves and reads beyond the pure athleticism he’s relied on. I think he can and will, but it will take a year to put it all together (see Robert Mathis from year 1 to year 2, for example).

      • A. Simmons

        My bad. You said highest floor, not ceiling. Because Irvin’s ceiling is as high as it goes.

  5. kaveh

    I think an interesting article would be who would you have taken at the picks Seattle had, if everything else had stayed the same and you were making the selections. So you were making the decision at #15, would it have been Irvin? Or Couples, Ingram, etc. Same with all their other picks, assuming other teams made the same picks and the seattle picks were not there in later rounds if you passed.

    • kaveh

      BTW, no way in heck i would have taken Irvin at #15. It is the exact same every year regardless of team or sport, the selection is made and over time and some great salesmanship from the front office, fans “come around.” The most read phrase after all drafts is: “i didn’t like the pick at first, but after thinking about it I’m starting to come around that this is an excellent selection!” I read it in every sport after every draft. In my opinion, usually it’s the first thoughts that are right.

      Irvin is WAY too small and wasn’t even a full time player at college. To compare this guy to a Couples is ridiculous in my opinion. BPA was no doubt Couples, the Hawks had the chance to make the selection after trading down to 15 and they passed. It was a horrible mistake. Couples will be an awesome NFL player, but more importantly, I simply cannot see a player like Irvin making it in the NFL. When an Olinemen in college gets his hands on you and you are automatically blocked, believe me, it’s going to be extremely hard for you to rush in the NFL. Irvin looks more like a safety or running back than a rusher. He is going to have serious problems rushing in the NFL. The key to being great at anything is diversity, being able to surprise your opponent. If you simply have 1 strength, then it’s impossible to succeed against premier opposition, because they will counteract your one strength, in this case speed. You have to come at your opponent with 3-4 different approaches so your opponent has no idea what’s coming. Just my 2 cents.

      • Randy

        He’s the same size as Clemons (basically), who had double digit sacks the past two years. I think he’s done alright. How can you say that the BPA was Coples, instead of Ingram? What makes Coples so much better?

        Game tape? Measurables? Technique? Motor? I really didn’t see anything that stuck out with Coples. I am not sure why anyone could see Coples as a sure thing.

      • Jared


        You do realize that Irvin is the SAME SIZE as Von Miller last year’s #2 pick who had 10+ sacks? Are you aware that Irvin and Clemmons are seperated by a mere 10 pounds don’t you? To say he’s “way too small” is silly. He is the perfect size for the LEO spot.

        Coples was completely overrated IMO. First off his best year as a player was his JR year when he played DT. To me he isn’t an elite edge rusher. The only other guy that made sense for the LEO IMO was Chandler Jones– I was conviced he would be our pick at #15.

        Lastly very few elite college pass rushers have more than 2 moves. All college players are “raw” by NFL standards, what Irvin needs more than anything is to get solid coaching, which I beleive he will as PC and staff have proven to be able to get the best out of players.

      • Kip Earlywine

        If I had to do the picks myself, but had the same knowledge of the league that they did (Irvin was a very hot commodity, Wilson wouldn’t escape the third) then I would have certainly made the same 1st and 3rd round picks they did, including the trade down in round 1. I made it no secret that I was a huge fan of Wilson and I also said that Irvin was the best pure pass rusher BEFORE the draft.

        I’ve also said elsewhere that if I was handling the draft I’d move around to ensure I got both Irvin and Wilson.

        A lot of the scenarios we covered here before the draft didn’t include Irvin because our intel gathering never pointed in his direction at round 1. NFL FO’s did a very good job keeping his rise up the boards top secret.

        The second round is the only pick I second guess- I would have probably traded down A LOT and then selected either Lavonte David or Demario Davis. Bobby Wagner is a rock solid pick though, and they added a 5th and a 7th. They could have done better, but if that’s their worst pick, this is going to be an unbelievable draft.

      • Really...

        Thought the first “Couples” was a typo but then it was littered in this response…if you have such a conviction that a player is going to be “awesome” it helps if you actually know his name…

        This whole response has to be a troll purposely trying to fire people up right?

      • A. Simmons

        Written by someone that doesn’t bother to take into account our scheme. The first thoughts aren’t usually right.

        There are a ton of players that make it people think are reaches now and in the history of the NFL draft. Why would you make a comment you can’t prove? Ruskell went with the safe pick with Curry and he failed. San Diego went with Ryan Leaf and he failed. The draft is littered with players that were highly rated that failed and you make a comment that the “first impression was usually right”. Really? Way to put your foot way up in your mouth because that viewpoint is easily disproven by all the first round so-called can’t miss prospects that…missed. And a lot of reaches like Tyson Alalu and Aldon Smith last year didn’t. Both were considered reaches where they were taken. You are making specious claims that are not supported by the available evidence.

      • MeatWad

        I think you are missing what Irvin accomplished with zero pass rushing training alone. What was he, 2nd in the nation in sacks in 2010? That comes from only playing 3rd downs too. His strength is speed, but he has the athleticism to be great. His measurable are very similar to Clemons and Von. So, the idea he is “WAY too small” is strange to me. He isn’t. Can he bust, of course. Every player drafted can bust. Period. I don’t pretend to have more knowledge that NFL team scouts, coaches, and managers, and if a team feels a player should be picked than they are correct, not us.
        Additionally, you feel Irvin has one strength. I disagree. He displayed being teachable, and desires to be great. Irvin has had zero pass rushing training and killed QB’s by speed alone, speed alone!!! To think he cannot be trained and coached to tap into his athleticism, learn a spin move, etc. is just being a negative Nancy.

  6. JC

    I love the Wagner pick more than maybe I should. Without over simplifying, I believe Wagner’s going to be to the front seven what Earl Thomas is to the secondary. In other words, his value will be in what doesn’t happen as opposed to eye popping statistics.

    • Doug

      I was thinking similarly to this too, I don’t think he’ll be LT, but he will effectively get the job done, and he will surprise with good coverage skills

  7. greg

    Walterfootball is a clown. He clearly doesn’t know anything about Seattle’s defense.

    • Randy

      I’m not entirely sure how he could say a 6th round pick was a reach. It basically becomes a crapshoot at that point.

      • MeatWad

        lol. I thought the exact same thing. A 6th round pick is a “reach”. I hate that “reach” is even used by ass clowns like Kiper/McShay/Walter. They will never learn. To think a Mock Draft is supposed to try and identify when a player will leave the board and with what team. At what point did the pundits create a “mock” that is the definitive on when a player should be taken and what they are worth?!

        Last couple years Kiper was down on Seattle’s draft, specifically last year and late rounds the year before. If I recall Kiper, at the end of last season, stated he changed Seattle’s grade from d or F to a B+ or something like that. Just a tool. I am more blown away by the number of people that actually believe their speak and place their opinion above NFL teams scouting.

  8. AlaskaHawk

    That’s a great way to say it, Wagner will be a solid player in a position that has been unfairly downrated. He will be valuable for his solid tackling and coverage, and won’t make the opposing team’s highlight reel.

    • Jared

      Kind of like how KJ Wright played last year? Wright wasn’t flashy, he was just consistently good. I’m excited to see how improved Wright will be in his 2nd year and I firmly beleive that Wagner and Toomer will play significant roles this year.

  9. Other Other Ben

    Great read, Kip. Thanks again for the great coverage you guys have provided this year. While I’ve been skeptical of the scheme fit of Upshaw, you guys correctly predicted the areas of priority for the FO (and their order) for at least the third year in a row. Credit where credit is due.

    One thought I’ve had on Wagner is that he might be able to make some nice plays in nickel sets. Though he may not have the coverage skills of a Kendricks or a David, he does have enough coverage ability to stay on the field on nickel downs. If I’m not mistaken, he’s also has some experience blitzing on passing downs (4 sacks his senior year). This versatility against the pass should represent a pretty big upgrade over what we had last year. While Kendricks and/or David may be better players, Wagner can probably be very effective for us.

    • Geoff

      I’ve actually heard the opposite, that Wagner might be one of the best cover linebackers in the draft.

  10. Misfit74

    “Grading a draft right after it happens is… well… it’s kind of stupid.”


  11. Joe The Jarhead

    I definitely agree Kip that most uninformed have penned Flynn for the starting job, I highly doubt it’s so cut and dry forbthe FO. I feel they will be rooting for Wilson to come out and shine. Who knows? Perhaps they even signed flynn to take the pressure of Wilson and give him time to grow, knowing full well they would do everything in their power to draft him

    • Doug

      It does make me wonder why they like wilson so much, Gruden loves him madly too. There must be something about him going on. I did watch a lot of his film this morning though, and one thing that really did stick out to me was his uncanny accuracy. He also has a surprisingly big arm for such a little guy. I just hope he becomes the exception to the rule, and as we all know, there IS an exception to every rule. I don’t know, maybe he is it. He certainly lit up the conversation of all the analysts didn’t he, I mean they were flat going at it!

  12. John

    Ok… So I have to go on a tangent (yet somewhat related) rant here, regarding Colin bashing Seattle on ESPN radio this morning. Not going to go into too much detail but, he essentially made it sound like Carroll can’t draft and has no idea what he’s doing.

    First off… Bull shit right there. Go back three years and tell me which team has found more starting talent than Seattle. ET, Kam, Sherman, Okung, KJ, Baldwin, Moffit, Carp, and I’ll throw Tate in there even though he’s under achieved. I’m sick of people like Colin (who is a tool that doesn’t know anything, and just says the most obvious things possible) saying that drafting BPA (which is generalized term which doesn’t take into account scheming) is the only way to draft. He acts like Carroll took over a decent team and has just failed to take advantage of it. Which again is ridiculous, because 2009 was the most painful, soul sucking year I’ve ever been a part of. I don’t have to describe to the SDB community just how hopeless things looked under Mora and Timmy (which is fitting if you picture the South Park character).

    Now that it’s coming out that Seattle wouldn’t have gotten their guy had they traded down even two more spots, certain analysts are covering their ears and saying “NAH NAH NAH I CAN”T HEAR YOU”, and standing by this belief that Seattle is a poorly run franchise. I’m super excited about Irvin, Wagner and Turbin. The only pick I disliked was Wilson, but that is 1 in 10, and if Kip’s opinion can be trusted (which I believe it can be) I may end up eating mad crow for it. Its really frustrating to hear Greeny say that the Jets would’ve taken Irvin, and then Golic laugh at it, and say “Oh and that makes it a good pick?”

    I know they are ignorant of the actual workings of Seattle, and I don’t think Seattle has quite turned the corner of “Consistent Contender”, but Seattle gets such major disrespect from the mainstream. We got disrespected last year too, and I’d say we had one hell of a haul.

    I really hope Seattle tears it up next year (Though I think 8-8ish is more realistic) just so I can hear Colin say “I’ve been saying this forever, Seattle has been a difference maker away from being a legitimate contender.” And then have the personal satisfaction of calling “Bull shit”.

    PC inherited one of the worst teams in football, and in 2 years has not patched, but FIXED, many of the holes in the team, by not only adding starting talent, but adding depth. There is no reason to believe that this year will be any different than the previous two, in that PC/JS will not only add talent, but maximize it with proper scheming.

    Sorry about the rant, but SDB is the only place to really vent about the disrespect towards the Hawks.

    • Vin

      ^completely agree^

    • JC

      I endorse this product and/or service.

    • dave crockett

      “Sorry about the rant, but SDB is the only place to really vent about the disrespect towards the Hawks.”
      You can’t get caught up in the national analysts, especially generalists like Mike & Mike and Cowherd.

      • JC

        Sure you can. Just watch us.

    • glor

      I just thank god that 2009 was so sad, and so many people had doubts in 2010, it allow me to get my CSL cheap 🙂
      Good luck with that these days…

    • Doug

      plus one mate!

    • Misfit74

      Cowherd is paid to stir the shit and is largely a jackass. If I’m in a car with no CD/MP3 player I may listen but with the biggest grain of salt possible. Shock value sells and he’s generally a condemning ass.

    • Stuart

      It is so annoying isnt it? On purpose during the draft I listened to Mel Kiper rip our picks. The guy thinks Seattle is clueless. It fuels me to want our guys to excel so that next draft the Mel Kipers of the world will give our FO the benefit of the doubt. We have to WIN, that will shut them up!

    • Attyla the Hawk

      This is the third draft. After this season, we should get a decent read on how these guys fare.

      2010 was a good draft at the top. It’s easy to say we had the #6 and #14 pick, but there were pitfalls to avoid then too.

      2011 is incomplete. Right now, given what we saw of Carpenter and Moffitt, it’s not exactly sterling production. That draft was made on the day 2 and 3 picks.

      2012 is sort of the tie breaker here. Like 2011, we took guys that conventional wisdom left us scratching our heads. And so far, convention wisdom is winning out over contrarian genius. Will picking against the odds work out better for us in 2012? We’ll find out.

      The criticism isn’t unwarranted. You can’t say we got Wright and Sherman on day 3, and Baldwin on day four and say our day 1 and 2 selections were good picks. As it stands today, they aren’t good picks. We may well just get a mulligan on the bust label due to injury. But when you replace them with backup talent and the general concensus is we’ve at worst maintained production to possibly even upgraded it — that doesn’t speak well of those picks.

      Our top half of our drafts has produced spotty results. And our ‘smartest guys in the room’ picks have thus far been complete duds. No question we’ve culled amazing quality in the later rounds. This draft is like the tiebreaker draft as far as taking players early goes. Irvin was a Carpenter style pick. Wagner was a move back to add picks guy as Moffitt was.

      Wilson, I have no issues with. QBs are a unique creature and if we felt he was a legit talent, then taking him a round or even two early is ok. Chances are one of the other 31 teams feels the same way and could take him too. There are only so many QBs that make it and we don’t have a franchise guy yet.

  13. AlaskaHawk

    It was pretty certain before the draft that Flynn (unless he broke his arm) would beat out TJ and start for us. Now I don’t know who will start, there will be a competition, but considering that Flynn hasn’t played regularly in 3 years, and Wilson has, Flynn has a high probability of getting beat by Wilson. Then we will have two expensive backups on the bench. About 10 million in backup QBs.

    2013 will have even better QBs coming out. If we grab one in round one, where will go from there? Will we have another competition and if the last three get beat out another new Qb?

    • Phil

      Unless you are assuming that the 2012 Seahawks QB is going to be a bust, why are you saying that we would grab a QB in the first round of 2013?

      Look at how far SF has progressed with Alex Smith at QB. Using Smith as an example, we don’t need a Brady/Manning/Brees at QB. All we need is a guy who makes decent decisions and who won’t lose games for us (throw interceptions). Given time, I expect whoever gets the Seahawks starting spot will get better as he gets more playing time. Patience, patience, ….

      • AlaskaHawk

        I’m not saying they will be a bust. Even if successful that would be a winning record. As to why choose another qb in 2013- for the same reason we picked one this year. We don’t have a starter and unless one blows us away, with the large group coming out next year of 4-6 good QBs, we will draft again.

        • Phil

          Didn’t know we drafted a QB in the first round this year. I guess Irvin really is versatile …

      • Donald

        I dissagree, SB teams do need a Brady/ Manning/ Brees at QB. All three of these QB won one. Yes, you could get to the playoffs with a game manager, but you wont get far without a franchise QB that can make the tough throws, make the right decisions, and shows leadership.

        To win a Super Bowl you need a game changer, not a game manager

    • Kyle

      This does seem to be a pattern at quarterback: bring in two guys, and if they don’t compete, at least one is a possible candidate to be QBOTF.

      Year 1: Pete inherited Hasselbeck, but brought in Whitehurst, hoping he’d thrive better than he did, and eventually supplant Matt. But Whitehurst is not a top-tier choice.

      Year 2: Seahawks release Hasselbeck, pick up TJ and anoint him starter over Charlie. Perhaps at that point they already knew, but the fans didn’t, that Whitehurst couldn’t play. Perhaps not. Either way, neither TJ nor Charlie are top-tier choices.

      Year 3: Seahawks release Charlie and sign Flynn. So you have Flynn and TJ to compete. Now add Wilson. None are top-tier choices, although Flynn and Wilson seem to me to be clearly a cut above TJ and Charlie.

      In no year do you have a bona fide QBOTF that you run with. Instead you have two (now three) possible candidates for the job, and the coaches/front office hoping one will rise to the occasion. I think you are right that this does not exclude another quarterback drafted or picked up in 2013. And it might be a weakness of the team’s vision. That’s why I’m nervous about Wilson. If he’s between bad and great, he may forestall another choice at QB–or he might tempt the team to take yet another in the name of competition. At some point you have to make an all-in choice and run with the guy.

  14. Phil

    Kip/Rob – sorry if I missed this, but has anyone in the front office named the second player that JS and PC had their eyes on (assuming that Irvin was one of the two) for the first round pick?

    • SHawn

      I think it would be one of Mercilus, C. Jones, and Perry. All left the board in the first rd.

    • glor

      Mark Barron and Luke Kuechly, who were both gone before our 12th pick.

      • Phil

        Thanks. I would have bet it was Cox.

    • rick

      John Schnieder on Sirius today said the other 2 players they had rated as high on thier board were Luke keakly (Spelling) and Mark Barron

  15. Jonathan

    If Wilson wins out for the starting gig, would TJack be a better backup for him from a scheme fit standpoint? And if so, would we be trading Flynn to a QB-needy team this season?

    • AlaskaHawk

      My take on trading Flynn is we would have to play him in enough games that he can prove he is worth something. So lets say he plays 8 games and wins 6 of them. Then he would be worth trading for a first round pick or a couple players of our choosing. Of course if he wins 6 out of 8 we might not want to trade him.

      • Jonathan

        I was thinking the same thing- his value will improve if he is able to play and win some games this season.

        • Phil

          Come on guys — if any of our QBs play 8 games and win 6, we aren’t going to be trading him.

          • MeatWad

            Agreed. 6-2 record, and trade?! No way. what team would do that.

  16. jake206

    They really dropped the ball with Mychal Kendricks. I have a feeling he’ll make the biggest impact this season between Wagner, Z. Brown and Kendricks. He just has that instinctual speed that I don’t think comes around often. If Kendricks becomes a frequent highlight reel on sports center, you’ll know why. I liked Vinny Curry too and wished Pete could’ve drafted him as well.

    • AlaskaHawk

      At least we got two more late round picks out of the trade down.

      • jake206

        2 more late round “projects”-eta, who knows. They all could be good players, I don’t think they’ll be ready this season though.

    • Ely

      I agree jake. I badly wanted Kendricks for his splash play ability. I wonder if this would have been seen as such a blunder though if the Hawks would have opted to go Lavonte David instead of Wagner? I still like Kendricks but maybe its just because Wagner isn’t quite as well known. Wanger has the same speed and great cover skills which the Hawks needed for TE coverage. I also hope the 5th rounder they gained in Toomer can come in and be that flash player with his freakish altheticism. I’m not sure Wagner is such a down grade over Kendricks.

      • jake206

        Kendricks looks more polished and ready to play this season, particularly if they have him play outside. He actually had more interceptions and sacks when Cal played him at OLB. I hope you’re right about Toomer. I’m more comfortable with players who’ve been playing the position for a while like Kendricks. Wagner just looks like he’s thinkin’ waay too much before reacting. Slow. On the other hand, I think Utah st. has been moving him around from 1 position to the next, so who knows. I guess my feeling on Kendricks is just gut reaction, especially when you watch him on those you tube cuts. Just screams bonafide “playa”.

  17. PNW_Hawk

    Even if the Jets did take Irvin and the Hawks had taken someone else, ESPN reporters would have probly say that the Hawks should have taken Irvin. ESPN is just out to get the Seahawks any way possible.

    • AlaskaHawk

      As someone said on another message board: If New England had picked Irvin it would have been viewed as a brilliant move.

      • Doug


  18. Doug

    I never thought Upshaw was the guy, but I never thought Irvin was either. I basically crapped my pants when the called his name instead of Coples.
    But if we had picked him, all the “experts” would have called it a stupid move because he is so lazy…
    Just another echo of this threads theme…

    • Stuart

      Honestly I wished we would have taken Upshaw. At least you are guaranteed a full time starter and as we all know,that man can play D. When they called Irvins name I nearly fell out of my chair. I will stand behind our teamno matter who they picked but geez, initially I felt so confussed and frustrated. It felt like De Ja Vu from last years 1st round. And I had the same feeling that they picked a player one round to early. The first round, you have to get an everydow player that is going to be elite. Is Irvin? Is Carpenter? Time will tell….I hope they both become STARS, take that Mel.

      • fudwamper

        I disagree that you need a every down player that is going to be elite in round one.

        We drafted an important piece that was missing on our D, Pass rush. Games change on 3rd down. If that guy can get to the QB on 3rd down, he is worthy of a first. He might not be an immediate 3 down player but in our D he easily could be in one to two years. A player that makes an impact on 3rd down with a high probability to take over the LEO position is worth a first rounder in my opinion.

  19. Jared


    Great Job, though I would grade the Wager selection higher than you. IMO I think the Hawks were perfectly satisfied taking Wagner. I don’t think there was some annoyance at Kendricks going a pick ealier. But that’s my take. I think Kendricks and Wager are similar players. Both were very productive, but I think Wagner’s experience and intellegence will pay dividends this Summer and I expect him to be our starting Mikebacker come pre-season.

    The other reason why I have to give it a higher grade is that we picked up 2 picks to move back. The fact that we accumulated 4 picks while getting 2 players of need I think was a homerun.

    • Kip Earlywine

      Fair enough. I tried to grade based on how good I think the FO felt about how that pick went down when they made it. Pete and John looked visibly upset when Kendricks went. There was a bit of a morose atmosphere in their war-room when they handed in the card for Wagner.

      Additionally, I wasn’t as high on Wagner as a lot of other people were. He was a solid pick, but it had the feel of stepping over a dollar to pick up a quarter. I was going to give them a “C” for that pick, but bumped it up to a “B-” when factoring the extra picks.

  20. Starrman44

    I am not a prognosticator. I’ve watched a lot of these films that are on youtube by draftbreakdown. Here is the thing that jumps out at me regarding Bruce Irvin. More than any player I watch, he automatically shortens the QB’s inner clock. You can see he is in their mind.

    I wanted Quinton Coples. I think Pete could coach him up. I wanted Luke Kuechly, I think that he is going to be a Brian Urlacher type player (I think he will even end up becoming better in rushing the passer because he’ll get more opportunity, but he is really good in coverage and cleaning up on runners). My dark-horse was Fletcher Cox (I feel like he is very disruptive). If we went Offense I wanted DeCastro or Trent Richardson (who was never going to be available).

    I say all this to say, I was shocked by Bruce Irvin. Like a lot of you, it isn’t because I didn’t think he was talented, it was because all I had heard was he was a 2nd or 3rd round pick. The fact that he wouldn’t have been available makes me ecstatic. Not because I need the validation that other teams liked him, but because I wanted the best, most dangerous pass rusher in the draft. We don’t pick him there, we don’t get him.

    I think we did great. I don’t need Schneider and Carroll to “shine these guys up on me.” They have proven that they are solid at evaluating talent. They added a couple nice UDFA WR’s and a nice UDFA RB. I think that is key. The WR’s they added in their minds are on par with what they could have gotten in rounds 5-7.

  21. AlaskaHawk

    I agree with Jared, all the LBs in the second round after Upshaw were about the same, give or take a few attributes. You could argue for Kendricks or Lavonte or Wagner, and they are all good LBs. Maybe not spectacular, just good solid players.

    Having said all that – the Eagles stole Kendricks from in front of us – they had a heck of a draft. I wouldn’t have minded having their picks in the early rounds. We wanted a pass rusher and not a defensive tackle/end like Cox, but then we chose three DTs at the end of the draft – and that tells me we did want a DT or two to replace our aging line next year. It’s a good idea to have them training for the day they can step in.

  22. James

    Here is a fun viewing… the 2010 Champs Sports Bowl, West Virginia vs NC State… Bruce Irvin vs Russell Wilson. Wilson won the game but Irvin was the dominant player. He had several sacks of Wilson, and would have had several more except for Wilson’s scrambling ability. Irvin lived in the Wolfpack backfield and was relentless, pretty much unblockable. Wilson had to run for his life all night, but did a great job pushing the ball down the field… he is pretty much the anti-Tarvaris. Very hard to sack and knows how to get the ball into the end zone.

  23. Stuart

    It will be exciting with the possibility that Russell Wilson will become our long lost QBOTF. Yes we will all be eyeing the talented QB’s coming out next year but I would be thrilled if we already have our man. Today I was thinking that he could turn to be similar to Drew Brees. Maybe 75%-80% as good? I cant wait to follow his career. He might be my favorite Seahawk now.

  24. Jim Kelly

    Kip, good read. It’ll definitely get me thinking about these picks with a different perspective.

    Also, in 2001, there were only 31 teams. Drew Brees was the first pick of the second round.

    • Kip Earlywine

      Fixed. Thanks.

  25. Mike

    Just to put things in perspective, a reminder that as good a Brees is, he got off to a shaky start after being drafted by San Diego. In his second season he was benched and lost his starting job to Flutie. It wasn’t until his 3rd season as a starter that he showed the ability to be a franchise quarterback.

    I’m high on Wilson, but I think he’ll need time, even taking into consideration his talent and how quickly he picks up offensive schemes.

  26. sc85sis

    True, though Drew came from a shotgun-spread offense at Purdue. Russell has already played in two versions of a pro-style offense in college and has taken snaps
    From both the shotgun and from under center. That may give him a leg up in the transition that Drew didn’t have.

  27. Diehard82

    Kip, great write up. Generally agree, although Wagner was the one pick I nailed, and I whiffed on Irvin and Wilson. The draftnik world would be gushing and calling it genius had bellicheck traded up for Irvin. Wes bunting at NFP had Irvin at 17 overall and called the pick by Seattle one of his 5 favorites in round 1. He also liked our CB in round 6.

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