The 2017 NFL draft has come and gone and many fans and experts have given their opinions about how the Seahawks drafted. To no surprise, the experts say we did pretty well, while the fans on social media are split. The main concern fans have is in regards to the offensive line and why we did not try to trade up to pick up specific players that were still on the board. The response to this question is simple: you pick up players that fit your scheme and needs.
Taking a look at the defense, the Seahawks traditionally run a 4-3 front with a three deep scheme. During the NFL draft, many people were scratching their heads wondering why some players were not chosen. While King and Baker are great prospects, not game-changing players, their skill set does not necessarily equate to success in the Seahawks system.
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Delano Hill is a great addition to the backfield behind Earl Thomas. He has the same intelligence and speed, a power hitter, and has the ability to read the ball and undercut the route without causing a penalty. Tedric Thompson is another great addition that can fit behind Kam Chancellor. He does have that ball-hawking instinct, long arms, and he always looks to make a play on the ball and through the player.
Seattle did an excellent job drafting the eventual replacements of Chancellor and Thomas, which may come sooner rather than later for one of them. This class was deep at the defensive back position, so it was important that Seattle grabs these players now and groom them to be a continuation of the best safety combination in the NFL.
With our choices at the defensive line, it made sense to draft Malik McDowell for our first pick and then continue later on to pick up Nazair Jones. I’ll start with McDowell. At 6’ 6” with hands that measure almost 11”, and an arm length that is almost 35”, he creates problems for running backs and quarterbacks. With hands that big and arms that long, he can really cause fumbles, sacks and general mayhem at the line.
Combining that with his size and strength he can help stuff the run if not push the line back for loss of yards. This will help change the scheme of offenses that look to go outside into the areas of Sherman, Shead (or Lane). If they try to throw the ball to centerfield, Thomas and Chancellor will be lying in wait.
Jones is a carbon copy of McDowell and both may see playing time time alongside Bennett, Avril and Clark this upcoming season. Yes their footwork and ball awareness can be improved, but that is why they are positioned as backup tackles. Groom them into the players you want for the system you have developed and they will produce even more. Both have the potential to be future Pro-Bowlers.
Switching to the offensive side of the ball, Seattle picked up two offensive tackles (sorry, I’m not going to go into the wide receivers in this article). This is where I have noticed that fans are upset about the choices that Seattle made. Many fans stated online that with Seattle holding so many picks, we should have traded up and taken a tackle or guard higher up in the first round or at least held our current position at 26 and draft one there.
Choosing Pocic where we did was a logical decision for the Seahawks. It could put him in a starting role by mid-season for a line that has depended on interchangeable players for the last five years. With the pickup of Joeckel and Aboushi, it is possible that Britt will continue at center while Pocic will move to the tackle position. With Pocic having played every position on the offensive line at Louisiana State University, he brings value and versatility to a situation that desperately needs to be solidified if Seattle is to make a run for another Lombardi Trophy.
It should be noted that while he did enter the draft as a center, it is safe to assume that with his height playing center can be a challenge. Justin Britt has made it work, and we already have him there, so Pocic is likely to slide over. This is why many reporters were unsure why he was called to the stand as a guard when drafted. Being 6’ 6” makes him a valued lineman to help with power running at the tackle or guard position with his ability to get up to the second level.
Picking up Justin Senior and placing him at left tackle was another logical decision for the Seahawks. This athlete comes from the SEC and at 331 pounds with big hands and arms, he will help make a difference in keeping Wilson on his feet and blocking blitzes and stunts. He does have the ability to block well and get up to the next level on the field which will help with our hybrid West Coast/power running style.
If fans are still not convinced that we made the right moves in our draft choices, consider the following: This was the year for corners, safeties, linebackers, and wide receivers. The next tier was filled with tight ends. Centers, guards and tackles were near the bottom of the list for quality and quantity that was on the board this year.
In 2018, the projection is quite the opposite. Many scouts and experts are already projecting that there will be quality at the offensive lineman positions and an abundance of players. Seattle has reloaded for the Legion of Boom 2.0 this year. Be patient and develop the players we have now, and when next year comes along, grab an offensive lineman in the first round.
Other draft grades to consider:
Sports Illustrated: B
Fieldgulls fan poll: B
NFL draft: most players close or seen as “good potential NFL starters”
My personal grade: B+ (I really wanted Obi Melifonwu).