Seahawks draft James Carpenter 25th overall

The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft is in the books and it had more twists than anyone expected.

After a predictable start with Cam Newton going first overall to Carolina, we had a number of big shocks. Atlanta traded up in a pro-active way to grab Julio Jones and help their quarterback, Tennessee picked Jake Locker ahead of Washington and Christian Ponder was taken 12th overall by Minnesota.

Not wanting to feel left out, Seattle pulled off a surprise by drafting James Carpenter (OT, Alabama) with the 25th overall pick. A surprise to many, anyway.

Watch the Seahawks draft James Carpenter here (Note Nick Saban’s reaction)

Watch Carpenter’s combine work out here

On Thursday my source told me the Seahawks would favor offensive lineman if they couldn’t move down and I touted Carpenter as an option alongside Danny Watkins (already off the board) and Rodney Hudson.

Regulars to the blog will know how highly I rate Carpenter. He originally caught my eye early during the 2010 season and stood out for the Crimson Tide as the team’s left tackle in 2010. He’s athletic and has the lateral agility to play left tackle and understands run blocking as you’d expect from the Nick Saban offense.

However, my impression watching Carpenter was that his greatest strength was in pass protection. He had no problems playing at left tackle, which is why I valued him so highly in the first place. At times, he didn’t look unlike Michael Oher – although not necessarily as physically gifted or as aggressive. I have always maintained that if I’m taking an offensive tackle in round one, they have to be able to play on the left. Seattle passed on Gabe Carimi, as I would’ve done, almost certainly because he is a pure right tackle. You won’t fear Carpenter stepping in for an injured Russell Okung. It’s easier to show a left tackle to play on the right than vice versa.

I rated Carpenter highly enough to put him at #23 to Philadelphia in my final mock draft. He turned 22 at the end of March and stands at 6-4, 321lbs. He came from the JUCO ranks prior to joining ‘Bama.

From a pure talent stand point, it’s a very solid pick. I cannot criticise the selection from that perspective because it correlates with my own grade. It isn’t a reach, he will contribute immediately and has much more potential than perhaps people realise. The only real issue is that Seattle has taken a player in the right kind of area and it highlights once again that a poor 7-9 team is picking 25th overall.

You see St. Louis adding a guy like Robert Quinn to their already solid pass rush and suddenly they have their franchise quarterback and they have an ever growing defensive line. There’s identity written all over the team. Who are the Seahawks? They are a team that is realistically staring at a stop-gap option at quarterback, a team lacking a dominating defensive lineman and without any star skill players on offense. Did they need to keep hitting on top-15 talent, especially at key positions? Is a right tackle a key position? Or guard?

They now have two first round offensive lineman – a third if they re-sign Chris Spencer. Max Unger cost a second round pick. I’m not sure any team has invested more draft stock into the offensive line than Seattle over the years, but the results haven’t always been there. Carpenter adds to it now, but the Seahawks cannot expect miracles. If you stack eight in the box, they will beat your five offensive lineman more often than not. Too many times in the last three years Seattle has faced that look and I wonder if it’s part of Seattle’s desire to have mobility at quarterback.

The success of the 2005 Seahawks was greatly enhanced by the left side of the offensive line, but it was helped along by an elite running back and a Pro-Bowl quarterback in his prime. This current line may be blocking for the same quarterback, now 36, and without anyone capable of running the way Shaun Alexander did at his best. Let’s also appreciate the precision and execution of the Holmgren offense during those days.

So my judgement would be – Carpenter has the talent to justify the pick. Whether the Seahawks can justify taking offensive lineman in round one back-t0-back is a question that will only be answered in years to come. People may ridicule that statement, but this is a team with a dearth of talent at premium positions and eventually that has to be recognised alongside the offensive line.

As expected the team passed on Ryan Mallett, the source highlighted his lack of mobility as being one reason (I now believe there are more) for not going in that direction. I understand Oakland may stop his fall tomorrow. Jimmy Smith – a legitimate top-10 talent with character concerns – went just after Seattle. Mark Ingram landed in New Orleans, who lucked out also adding Cameron Jordan. Da’Quan Bowers’ knee injury is clearly a major issue as he is still available.

And as suspected, realism hit home for Andy Dalton who like Colt McCoy last year – did not go in round one despite a lot of nonsense about a high pick. If only I could explain the Ponder selection…

It sets up for an interesting Friday when the draft re-starts at 3PM PST. The Seahawks own the #57 overall pick. Will Colin Kaepernick make it that far? What about Da’Quan Bowers? There’s still a lot of talent on the board.

Thank you to those who participated in making the live chat a major success. We’ll do it all again tomorrow just before the second round kicks off. I’ll also announce the winners of the mock draft competition soon.


  1. Derek

    Bowers must be hurting. He was talked about as the possible number 1 overall choice a couple months ago. That knee must be really bad. I like the Carpenter pick. The guy is extrememly durable (knock on wood).

    It is interesting that both the Hawks and the Packers chose OTs two years in a row. Did your source say anything about trading up in the second? Also suprised that the Packers passed on Akeem Ayers.

    If the Hawks stay put at #57, who do you think they are targeting now? I know a lot of drafts had us taking OL in round two but probabaly not anymore. If we go DL, say Casey out of USC, I think we are looking at complete rebuild mode.

  2. Brandon Adams

    My current opinion on this pick can be summed up in two words:

    Charlie Whitehurst.

    • Kip Earlywine


      • Coug1990

        I think he means that Whitehurst was a bad acquisition and Carpenter is a bad acquisition also.

      • Brandon Adams

        As in, as of right now, he’s our starting QB for 2011.

        • Kip Earlywine

          Don’t worry. Kaepernick is still out there (but so is Dalton, *gulp*), and even if Palmer falls through later, it looks like Garrard and Young could be easily obtained.

          Seattle has only 1 quarterback on its roster, and I really doubt that the next two quarterbacks we add to the roster will both be behind Whitehurst.

          I think you’re hung up on Mallett. Just get over it- he was never an option and its unfortunate but a fact of life. He would have been a terrible fit for this offense, and Carroll took this job in the first place to do things “his way.” So with that in mind, I can hardly blame him. And its not like he was the only guy to pass on Mallett either.

    • Rob

      One day, the Seahawks will have to take a QB in round one.

    • PatrickH

      One possibility (perhaps a remote one) is that the Carson Palmer trade is in the bag, and so they don’t have to reach for a QB prospect this year.

      • Kip Earlywine

        I’ve been thinking the same thing for many weeks now.

        Ever since I heard confirmation of the rumors, I started to suspect that it took the urgency out of Seattle’s draft plans for QB.

  3. Kip Earlywine

    By the way, if you listen carefully to the crowd when the pick is announced, you can audibly hear someone in the crowd saying “WHO?!”

  4. MattyB

    Going into there pick, they certainly wanted to trade down. Everyone who listened to the radio or read online knew that but they couldn’t. I don’t believe they had Carpenter as the offensive lineman they wanted there in the first place. I believe they wanted soldier first then watkins but both were off the board. In the end they had to make the pick. I can’t judge carpenter because i know nothing about him but i trust PC and JS do, but with all those big names on the board why didn’t go with BPA? There are plenty of good linemen coming in the later rounds and they could got a shut down corner or good pass rusher which are also huge needs. I am not going to be a typical fan who judges the pick based on not knowing who is he is and I will wait to see him play not the field but my main question is why not one the big name draftees in a position of need and wait to draft a lineman. So Rob, I got a question for you, how much did Tom Cable and the run game influence this pick?

  5. wes

    Will he be a day 1 starter? I would assume so. It’s hard to be critical about this pick, because O line is so crucial to success on offense, but it sure is disappointing that they could not trade down, because you know they could have gotten Carpenter at the top of round 2.

    • Bostonhawk

      I am not so sure he would be available. Rumor has it that Chicago was more interested in Carpenter than Carimi, and NFL Radio suggested that Green Bay preferred Carpenter over both Carimi and Sherrod. Now does that justify taking a tackle in Round 1? Perhaps not, but I am not sure there were trades early in the second they liked and I don’t think he would have lasted to the mid-second.

  6. Billy Showbiz

    I like it. I heard someone say that they thought this guy was the second best tackle in the draft, maybe it was Rob. Hopefully he turns out to be a beast! Hopefully Marshawn can run behind this guy. It’s not flashy but our line sucks so I’m happy.

  7. Blake

    Like I said in the live chat, Kip, it goes against everything you showed that Cable likes in an offensive linemen: he’s short for the position, short arms, and fat. WTF? I don’t know if he can play tackle with those arms. It’s sad that we passed on Sherrod and Smith. Nobody else I could find had Carpenter as a 1st rounder. Not many even have him as a tackle. Seriously? Take a 2nd round GUARD in the first round? A conversion guy? It makes me sick to my stomach. I’d take what NE got from NO for Ingram. A pick in the 20s next year and a pick in the 50s this year? We could take Carpenter then. It’s so sad to see a pick wasted on a conversion guard/right tackle when we could’ve taken a shutdown corner. Rob, I’d love to hear why they passed on him; get your source on the line and tell him to punch PC in the throat.

    • Mind of no mind

      Rog Rang had him going #31 to the Steelers.

    • Alex

      If they passed on Smith, I just have to assume that the character issues were too much.

    • PatrickH

      Apparently this is the second time that Pete Carroll has passed on Jimmy Smith. When Smith was a talented high school prospect from the LA area, Pete did not recruit him to USC (neither did UCLA). Something about his background scared people off even back then.

    • Kip Earlywine

      I’ll probably talk about this more in a future post, but the type of lineman acquired for Cable in his previous two stints scared the hell out of me- and it created an impression that Cable is about as much of a OL guru as Jim Mora was a secondary guru. Linemen can absolutely be too tall, something that Alex Gibbs was adamant about, because it impacts leverage. Further, a guy who’s 6’8″ 300 lbs is probably going to have a body type like a taller TE, and TE’s are not known to be great run blockers.

      So I was actually VERY relieved to see a lineman with measurables like James Carpenter- which are pretty close to prototypical. Its still early, but this is a very positive sign that a lot of the oddball lineman acquired in Oakland really was of Al Davis’ choosing rather than Cable. The relief of knowing that makes this pick feel worthwhile.

      • Attyla the Hawk

        Hahaha, I was thinking the EXACT same thing. The avoidance of years’ of OL drafting dread was probably worth seeing Saban look like he was on Extreme Makeover when the bus pulls away. Because I gotta tell ya, after the “WHO?”, it was followed by, “God look at his coach. This can’t be good!”

        Let’s hope we get another selection to maybe cement that thought.

  8. Dave

    Will you be doing a new round 2 mock?
    By the way, the live chat was great

  9. PatrickH

    My guess as to why the Vikings selected Ponder at 12: they saw Locker being drafted at 8, saw Jacksonville traded up to 10 for Gabbert, thought a run on QB was in progress, and panicked.

    It’s interesting that Locker went from a potential first QB being selected to the second QB being selected (and might have been the first one if not for Cam Newton). So much for the media criticism.

  10. denamin

    I am trying to be reconciled to the Carpenter pick. If he will be competing with Stacey for the RT spot as someone reported from the PC interview, who will be our guards? Our OL still looks like a mess. Spencer at center looked better this past year than any of his prior years, but Unger has yet to show me anything. If we could score home runs with Hudson in the 2nd or Rackley maybe in the 4th our OL would be on its way. Then what happens at QB and the D line? Its only this regime’s 2nd year. We are moving in the right direction unlike after 2005.

    • Cory

      There is a great chance that gallery is gonna be coming to Seattle and we would move him to guard. That would be a huge upgrade at guard and would give us a great nucleus and solid o line that will be able to open some holes up front for r backs.

      • Attyla the Hawk

        So would that be an Okung/Carpenter/Spencer/Gallery/Andrews line?

        I suppose I could live with that. Just so long as Unger is a backup. Dude looks like a WR trying to block a linebacker.

  11. Nate Dogg

    More great stuff.

    I wonder if Carpenter is the start of building the identity you mentioned is missing. It sounds like Cable was very involved in the draft process, I wouldn’t be surprised if they still make a run on mid-round interior linemen. If they manage to pick up Palmer for a late round pick they could field a well rounded offense that might be the best in the NFC West next year.

  12. akki

    You did have the Rams take Rodger Saffold on top of Jason Smith and the 49ers take Anthony Davis on top of Joe Staley, knowing that either the new or the past OT was going to end up at RT. And the Packers just drafted Sherrod on top of last year’s Bulaga. So spending 2 1st rounders on tackles certainly isn’t unprecedented.

    My initial issues upon hearing of the Carpenter pick are that he at least doesn’t sound like BPA, but also that if you’re going to go with an OT, I felt there was a group of several guys that could be considered to be on the same tier (with Sherrod, Carimi, Ijalana, Franklin). When that’s the case it doesn’t feel so good to be the first team to take one of those guys. You’d rather trade down and ideally take the last one. Maybe the only trade-downs available to the Seahawks took them too far down the board to safely get a guard/tackle who could come in and start immediately.

    One other mitigating factor is that the free agent OT class is (as usual it seems) pretty weak so other options are limited. Locklear might be one of the better guys available, believe it or not. So if you can draft a guy who you’re pretty sure is an immediate upgrade it might be worthwhile. And if you wait until pick 57, the risk of the OT you pick not making an immediate impact increases (granted, you can say that about many positions). In the 2nd round, sometimes you get a Sebastian Vollmer, and sometimes you get a Vladimir Ducasse.

    I understand passing on Smith considering that his leaked rap sheet turned out worse than I’d imagined possible. I would’ve preferred Wilkerson, but a good RT is reasonable. I think the criticisms of Carpenter are mostly that he’s the wrong RT, rather than that a RT is a bad draft choice in general.

    As for QB, it seems there’s not much you could’ve done. Mallett was off the board, Dalton and Kaepernick would’ve been mostly unpopular picks at 25, and the other guys were drafted too high to have reasonably traded up to get. Maybe we’ll draft one late (Froman?) and otherwise go through a 2-3 year stretch relying on short-term veterans like we did in the 90s with Friesz and Moon. That’s better than reaching for someone you’re not comfortable with.

  13. MattH

    You know one thought I just had was to realize that with the pass rushers St. Louis and San Fransisco added with their picks are well balanced by a better Seattle O-Line. Neither Quinn nor Smith would typically come from the string side, but hey a better O-Line is better prepared for all the blitz packages.

  14. D

    Ho-hum. I think that the energtic surfer character of PC leads me to be dissapointed by anything less than drafting an alien NT with three heads. Oh well… at least they are being active in dealing with the less than stellar OL.

  15. Frank

    I like the pick for the most part. But ESPN listed him in the sub 290 range not over 320 listed here. So depending on his real weight, I love hime at 321 and like him at 288. I’m glad uncle Pete isn’t to much of a narly surfer dude to understand how important great play out of you’re line is.
    Please Keaperinck Bowers or Austin keep on sliding. I think Whitehurst fits our skeme, I just like the upside of Keapernick in three or four years ala Rodgers.
    What the hell where does Bowers land? Isn’t this a meniscus tear? I have one of those have had since high school, not major just never heals because no blood flow. How bad is that knee?

  16. Frank

    micro fracture, degenerative artritis.

  17. jacobK

    First off, Our record doesnt properly define our team. We are at least a 9 win or better team when everyone is healthy which has been hard for us the past couple years. Second the reason we were so successful in 2005 was because of our BA line that made alexander look like a superstar, You get a solid line in front of lynch and he’ll have alot more highlight runs like he did against the saints. i agree we do need an X factor player in our recieving corp. If they dont adress the QB position soon in this draft then i think carroll already has his hier to the position picked out and is just waiting for them next year

  18. denamin

    The Moffit pick doesn’t excite me. Tough as nails is good like most Wisonsin OL, but the lack of blocking skills is going to hurt. It was a pain to have Hudson taken at 56, but I don’t even know if he would have been a fit for where our OL is going anyway. Does anyone know what pick we got for trading down?

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