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Seahawks' draft a major head-scratcher

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Dan Arkush

darkush@pfwmedia.com
Executive editor

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By Dan Arkush

So do you find yourselves having to really battle to get comfortable with Seattle’s latest draft?

I sure am having a hard time, and it appears I’m definitely not the only one, with the majority of national draft experts giving the Pete Carroll-John Schneider partnership a below-average grade after making more than a few curious picks this year — particularly in the first and third rounds.

Start with the fact that seven of Seattle’s 10 selections were spent on defenders, despite the fact its defense emerged as the strength of last year’s team, Marshawn Lynch’s beastly running notwithstanding.

In defense of Carroll, he made no bones shortly after the season ended that he considered more speed at linebacker and a better pass rush, both outside and inside, as the Seahawks' top priorities.

Second-rounder Bobby Wagner, a tackle machine at Utah State, and fifth-rounder Korey Toomer from Idaho appear to fill the specific "speed need" at linebacker, and it’s hard to quibble with those selections.

But there are plenty of observers who can’t help wondering if there were much more qualified heavy-duty pass rushers available at the No. 15 spot in the first round than West Virginia’s Bruce Irvin, who immediately triggered as much, if not more, heavy-duty head-scratching than last year’s very puzzling first-round selection, OT James Carpenter.

“We just didn’t want to get too cute,” Schneider said after selecting Irvin, who does indeed have rare pass-rushing skills (22½ sacks his last two years at West Virginia) and off-the-chart instincts, but also has a very suspect track record off the field, including an arrest as recently as last month for destruction of property and disorderly conduct after an incident at a sandwich shop (the charges were eventually dismissed).

This guy is just too special of a football player.”

But is he more special than either North Carolina DE Quinton Coples or South Carolina DE Melvin Ingram, who were selected shortly after Irvin by the Jets (16th overall) and Chargers (18th overall), respectively?

Suffice it to say there figures to be more than just a passing interest in Seahawks Nation in the performances this coming season of Coples and Ingram, who were widely considered to be much safer bets than Irvin, although the Seahawks beg to differ.

In a Sirius radio interview, Schneider said the Seahawks considered Irvin, Boston College ILB Luke Kuechly and Alabama S Mark Barron the three top defensive players available. He also said he was pretty sure the Jets wouldn’t have hesitated to select Irvin at the 16th spot, which explains his “cute” comment.

But how in the world does he explain the third-round selection of QB Russell Wilson, who is no doubt a great story but an even greater mystery, considering the three QBs already on the Seahawks’ depth chart, led by Matt Flynn, the team’s new $26 million man?

I can see how Wilson, who did some incredible things at Wisconsin, could immediately be a weapon in specially designed spot situations. But spending a third-round pick on a guy who might get on the field for only a handful of plays per game at the most seems like a luxury the Seahawks can ill-afford, especially when you take into account the extra pressure the pick puts on Flynn to succeed.

I’ve already mentioned that I’m OK with the picks of Wagner and Toomer, but as for the rest of the Seahawks’ picks, I just can’t get excited at all.

Fourth-round RB Robert Turbin combines with Lynch to give the Seahawks’ backfield the coolest nicknames in the NFL (“The Hulk” and “Beast Mode”). But with Lynch shaping up as such a workhorse, I don’t see Turbin bringing much to the table. Same goes for fellow fourth-rounder Jaye Howard, with free agent Jason Jones already having been added to the DT rotation.

I also don’t think much of the Seahawks’ last four picks after Toomer. Sixth-rounders Jeremy Lane and Winston Guy don’t figure to add much to what was already one of the league’s deeper and more talented secondaries.

In the seventh round, you’ve got a defensive tackle being converted into an offensive guard in J.R. Sweezy, and a another DT being converted into a five-technique D-end in Greg Scruggs. I know the Seahawks have a good track record with prior conversions, most notably Red Bryant, a converted tackle who has turned into a red-chip run-stuffing defensive end.

But enough with all these “cute” moves already.

I want to make two more points before signing off.

First off, in an effort to better understand the first-round selection of Irvin, I wonder if this isn't just the latest maneuver by Carroll to copy-cat Jim Harbaugh, his coaching rival at both college and pro level.

In case you didn’t notice, after struggling to find themselves during a 2-6 start, things turned around dramatically for the Seahawks once they established a very Niners-like identity. Their offense evolved into a run-oriented, ball-control unit showcasing Lynch, and the defense also picked up on Harbaugh’s Niners blueprint, adeptly stuffing the run, forcing turnovers and playing with a definite edge.

Something tells me the Seahawks are banking on Irvin to provide the exact same kind of immediate impact in passing situations that Niners first-round draft pick Aldon Smith did for the Niners last season.

The other point is that, if there’s one team that deserves the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the draft, it’s the Seahawks.

A year ago at this time, PFW gave Seattle a C-minus for their drafting efforts that began with the pick of the unpopular Carpenter. But by the time the season ended, their 2011 draft had produced four starters (Carpenter, ORG James Moffitt, SLB K.J. Wright and LCB Richard Sherman), in addition to undrafted rookies Doug Baldwin, who went on to excel in the slot and lead the team in receiving, and Ricardo “The Rocket” Lockette, a very intriguing receiver with exciting big-play potential.

Put simply, no team in the NFL did better.

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