The 2007 off-season took place following a heartbreaking loss in Chicago, and the front office had major plans for the roster prior to the draft. That off-season was very similar to this year; Seattle looked to patch needs through free agency, allowing for the best available players to be selected in the draft.
Jerramy Stevens was on his way out of town, and the front office signed Marcus Pollard instead of making tight end a draft day priority. Grant Wistrom’s age and contract caught up with him, so Patrick Kerney was signed to fill the hole left by Wistrom’s departure. Tim Ruskell was tired of giving up big plays, so Hamlin was allowed to sign elsewhere and Boulware was traded. Deon Grant and Brian Russell were signed to provide a quick fix in the defensive backfield.
Given their activity in free agency, the Seattle Seahawks didn’t have a glaring need anywhere on their roster. Offensive line depth was a minor need – the loss of Steve Hutchinson, coupled with Robbie Tobeck’s retirement, left the group deprived and slightly inept. Age was also creeping up on starting linemen Chris Gray and Walter Jones. As always, there was a need for help on the defensive line; Marcus Tubbs was hurting again, and there is always a need for a pass rusher.
Seattle, without a first round pick after trading for Deion Branch, wasn’t included in many simple mock drafts. Most of the mock drafts that predicted later rounds, however, had the Seahawks selecting a defensive or offensive lineman with their initial pick. Apparently, Ruskell and company had other plans. Here is a look at the players Seattle selected that year:
The Seahawks surprised some analysts again in 2007 by selecting Josh Wilson with their first pick, 55th overall in the draft. Those close to the organization and columnists familiar with Seattle’s preferences, however, saw the pick coming. Seattle was targeting a few players at 55, supposedly including Wilson and defensive tackle Turk McBride. After Kansas City selected McBride at 54, Seattle jumped on the opportunity to snag Wilson, even reportedly declining an opportunity to slide down a few picks via trade.
Wilson, a 5-foot-9 cornerback from Maryland, is another player Ruskell has coveted who may be undersized, but makes up for it with rare talents elsewhere and great work ethic and determination. Wilson has great speed (4.28 campus, 4.42 combine 40-yard dash) and is able to recover quickly from mistakes. He also has the ability to make an impact on special teams, as an experienced returner in college.
Many “experts” thought the Seahawks would’ve benefitted by selecting other players in the second round, including Florida’s Ray McDonald, Texas’ Tim Crowder, or Georgia’s Charles Johnson. Regardless of their needs on defensive line, Seattle opted to add depth to their defensive backfield and not allow needs to alter their strategy. Fortunately, they were able to find Brandon Mebane in the third round – another Ruskell player who plays hard every down and uses a strong work ethic to make up for a lack of elite athleticism.
Seattle was quite active on the second day of the draft, sending troubled (yet productive) wide receiver Darrell Jackson to the 49ers in exchange for a fourth round (124th overall) pick. With that choice, Seattle selected guard Mansfield Wrotto, whose amazing physical potential was outweighed by his inexperience at the offensive line. Although Wrotto recently played well as an injury replacement, the Seahawks passed on Josh Beekman from Boston College – Beekman started 16 games at guard for the Chicago Bears last season.
Looking back at the 2007 draft, I would probably give a B+ grade; some analysts graded Seattle as low as a D immediately following the draft. Josh Wilson is durable and has provided necessary depth in the secondary, and has developed into a starter at cornerback. Mebane is a solid starter at defensive tackle, and the additions of Baraka Atkins, Wrotto, Will Herring, and Steve Vallos have provided quality depth (especially evident after the injury-plagued 2008 season). Courtney Taylor flopped when given the opportunity to start, but is still quite raw, as well as project receiver Jordan Kent.
2007 Draft Outcome:
Josh Wilson: Played in 12 games as a rookie, and played in every game in his second season, including 12 starts. Wilson has totaled 85 tackles, 4 interceptions, 9 passes defensed, and a sack in two NFL seasons. He will continue to compete for the starting job opposite Marcus Trufant, and it will be hard to justify keeping him off of the field. Wilson has also been a big contributor on special teams, including a 25.8 yard average on 83 returned kicks, with one touchdown.
Brandon Mebane: Has played in every game since his rookie season, including 26 starts. Mebane has developed nicely into a starting defensive tackle in the NFL, and has shown a lot of improvement since his rookie season. Mebane tied for the team lead with 5.5 sacks and was a consistent force on the defensive line. Many consider him to be one of the most underrated players in the NFL.
Baraka Atkins: Atkins has played in 17 games since being drafted in the fourth round by Seattle. He has 29 tackles and 2 sacks in his short career, and contributed quite a bit down the stretch last season. To the surprise of some, Atkins was retained last fall after beating out Jason Babin for a roster spot in training camp.
Mansfield Wrotto: Wrotto is best known for his part in the Darrell Jackson trade, as the Seahawks used the fourth round pick obtained from San Francisco to select him. He was a raw player with a high ceiling coming out of college, and has developed nicely thus far. He isn’t ready to make an impact in the starting lineup yet, but offers the Seahawks good depth and flexibility on the offensive line. Wrotto made 4 starts last season as an injury replacement, and has played in 7 games in his two-year career.
Will Herring: Herring has been a regular contributor on special teams and made one start as an outside linebacker when injuries hit the Seahawks hard last season. The linebacker, who played safety in college prior to his senior season, has tallied 27 tackles in the pros. He offers great versatility and depth, playing both outside linebacker spots, and will continue to have a major role on special teams.
Courtney Taylor: Taylor had developed nicely as a wide receiver, and was supposed to play a major role on offense last season after injuries plagued the receivers. He did start 4 games, but was limited to 9 receptions for 98 yards. After his underwhelming performance, Taylor was released and re-signed to the practice squad, and later assigned back to the 53-man roster.
Jordan Kent: Kent possesses great athleticism and good size (6-foot-4, 219 pounds), but the receiver out of Oregon has yet to make much of an impact in the pros. He has spent the majority of his career on the practice squad, but did play in 9 games last season (including a start) due to injuries at the receiver position. Kent has yet to make a reception in the NFL.
Steve Vallos: Has developed into a versatile player, able to play nearly every position on the offensive line. Vallos played very well at center during the preseason and into the regular season, often replacing an injured Chris Spencer without incident. Vallos should continue to improve, and may push Spencer for some more playing time next season.