Seahawks looking for the next icon in this year’s draft
First, I am aware that all draft classes are important. You miss a few players in one year’s draft, you better make it up in the next. But really…do not miss in any year. Quality management and consistent winners do not take years off in the draft. The Seahawks have good management. But the 2017 draft is the most important in five years.
This draft class is made more important because the core of Seattle is getting older. The Seahawks need to replenish with the same type of core players. Otherwise, the Seahawks will recede into mediocrity. Is this an overstatement? Based on the last four drafts of the Seahawks, it is not. Let’s be honest, the Seahawks are slowly digressing: Super Bowl winners in 2013, Super Bowl runners-up in 2014, and the last two years they have lost in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Seattle has a defense that was built on speed. Sure, the run-stuffing interior defensive linemen have been brutes, but overall Seattle has just been faster than other teams. Against the Atlanta Falcons in the playoffs last season, though, Atlanta was faster than Seattle. While players can perform well into their thirties, speed usually diminishes. Seattle needs to get faster again.
Plus, Seattle simply needs an influx of quality starting talent in the 2017 draft. While every draft class has some misses, Seattle’s 2010 and 2011 drafts had at least three players each who have gone to Pro Bowls. (I am aware that 2010 draftee Golden Tate went to the Pro Bowl with the Detroit Lions, but Tate had the talent to go with the Seahawks as well.) 2012’s class produced Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner. Plus, Jeremy Lane was taken in 2012 and he has become a starter.
Moreover, one could argue that the draft classes between 2010 and 2012 might have produced three to five potential Hall of Fame players, if those players continue their same quality of play for a few more years. Those players include:
2010: Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor
2011: Richard Sherman
2012: Wagner and Wilson
Again, I am only speculating those players could be in the Hall of Fame, but the potential is there. And my guess is at least two of them make it.
(For a complete look at the Seahawks’ past drafts, NFL.com has that here.)
Recent draft problems
The four draft classes between 2013 and 2016 have produced two players total that have gone to Pro Bowls, Justin Britt (2014) and Tyler Lockett (2015). Only one player taken in 2013 – Luke Willson – is still with the Seahawks. Frank Clark from the 2015 draft may be in several Pro Bowls before he stops playing for Seattle, but he is not there yet.
If one were to take an objective look at any random NFL team and say, “the best players they have produced in the last four drafts are Tyler Lockett, Justin Britt and Frank Clark,” one would not be thinking that team is going to have long-term success. Lockett is a great special teams player and is becoming a very good receiver. Britt’s career path took a nice turn last year after moving to center. Clark has increased his production each season. Those three players are good, but a team needs more to be successful. A lot more.
The 2016 draft class may still be too new to truly evaluate. Maybe Germain Ifedi will become the offensive lineman the Seahawks hoped he would when they took him in the first round. Jarran Reed may become a ten-year stalwart at defensive tackle. CJ Prosise might stay healthy and productive. There is also just a great of chance that none of those things happen.
The Seahawks need to make smart and great picks this year. They need a cornerback and they need help along the offensive line. This year Seattle must replicate something closer to the 2010 and 2011 drafts. Otherwise, the proverbial window of opportunity will not be closing in three years. That window will be closed and barred shut.