Number 8: This rare 7th-round superstar powered the Seahawks ground game
Now, when I say this man was nearly an afterthought, in no way does that describe how the Seahawks felt about the tenth player they took in the 2017 draft. 25 running backs were taken before him in that draft. They include some true superstars, like Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, and Dalvin Cook. Still, I believe any GM in the league would say Chris Carson was among the five best backs taken that year.
One thing we can be sure about: Pete Carroll never considered Carson to be an afterthought. True, it took some injuries ahead of him to get Carson on the field as a rookie, but once he got his chance, he proved he belonged with the league’s best. He only made it for four games before an injury took him out of the lineup with 208 yards, but let’s look at his numbers projected for a full season. And let’s not forget he didn’t start until week 2. I’ll adjust his rookie season to his average carries in his second and third seasons, when he stayed relatively healthy.
In 2018 and 2019, Carson averaged 18.1 carries per game. Since he never played a full 16-game slate, I’ll adjust his stats to a 14-game season. As a rookie, he averaged 4.24 yards per carry. A quick trip to mathy world – 18.1 x 14 x 4.24, and Chris Carson could have been expected to produce 1,074 yards as a rookie. That puts him ahead of Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Joe Mixon, James Connor, and Aaron Jones. Alvin Kamara had even more yards receiving than rushing, and Dalvin Cook missed 12 games, just like Carson.
Carson also averaged 1.97 catches per game in years one and two. Projected to 14 contests at 8.42 yards per catch, that’s another 232 yards from scrimmage. That would place him ahead of even Christian McCaffrey, who played in all 16 games and totaled 1,086 yards from scrimmage, compared to Carson’s projected 1,306. Had he stayed healthy, only Kamara would have outproduced him among the 2017 rookies.
Ah, but that’s the rub, isn’t it? As with so many of the Seahawks greats, Carson could never stay healthy. By 2020 Seattle split time between him and Carlos Hyde in an attempt to keep him fresh. He still missed four games. And then, of course, he was lost for the season in 2021 and retired this year. As fans, we were conflicted. We knew we’d miss his slashing style, his hurdles over defenders, and how he’d simply smash into linemen with 80 pounds on him, and move the pile. Carson literally left everything on the field for the Seahawks. Add that every member of the running back room had nothing but the highest praise for him, even as they all tried to wrest carries away, and Chris Carson simply cannot be kept out of the conversation for best Hawks running back ever.