Five leftover thoughts on the Seahawks, Chris Polk and NFL draft
Check out my latest column wrapping up the draft: Deciphering what the heck the Seahawks were thinking.
And these are the last words I will write about the 2012 NFL draft (I think).
1. Bruce Irvin will do what the Seahawks drafted him to do: Eat quarterbacks. Will he be a star? I'm not sure, and that's where the Seahawks could come up short with this pick, or even worse, open themselves up for ridicule. They passed on several quality players to pick Irvin, whom they consider the best pure pass rusher in the draft, at No. 15 overall in the first round. I'm wondering if a couple of defensive players they bypassed, Melvin Ingram (the No. 18 pick) or Fletcher Cox (the player Philadelphia traded up to No. 12 to select), will wind up being better overall players. I'm also certain that offensive guard David DeCastro, who was taken No. 24 overall by Pittsburgh, will have a greater overall impact. That's the risk the Seahawks took, but you can't look at the pick in a vacuum. If Irvin collects, say, 80 sacks over the next seven years and proves a perfect pass-rushing fit in the Seahawks defense, Pete Carroll and John Schneider won't be crying over filling a need at the expense of missing out on a player who was technically better. As long as Irvin lives up to his potential, the Seahawks won't have to play "what if."
2. It's absurd to say Chris Polk should've stayed in school. I've heard a disturbing amount of that revisionist thinking since the Washington running back shockingly went undrafted. But reports are that Polk's injury concerns kept him from being selected, not his talent. What good would staying in school and experiencing more wear and tear on his body have done if the concern is that he's going to break down soon? Polk plays running back, a position with one of the shortest life spans in sports. He gave the Huskies four years, three of which were full seasons, and he rushed for 4,049 yards. He graduated. This is not a case of a player rushing to the pros too soon.
One final thing about Polk: People saying that the UW did Polk wrong by not applying early for his redshirt have their facts wrong. Polk wasn't a victim of a mishap that forced him to go pro. If he had wanted to stay for a fifth year, the UW would've applied for the redshirt, and Polk would've received that extra year. They didn't have to apply for it early, and they probably didn't because they assumed he might leave early. The Huskies actually helped Polk by going this route. It allowed him to play in the Senior Bowl.
3. For the offense to improve, it's on the quarterback. So, the Seahawks haven't done much to improve the offense this offseason outside of adding two significant pieces to the game's most important position. They paid $10 million guaranteed to lure quarterback Matt Flynn from Green Bay. Then they spent a third-round pick on Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson. Much has been made of their reluctance to add more weapons for their quarterbacks, but during the Pete Carroll/John Schneider regime, they've invested a lot in skilled-position players, including spending big money on running back Marshawn Lynch, wide receiver Sidney Rice and tight end Zach Miller and using high draft picks on tackles Russell Okung and James Carpeneter and guard John Moffitt. Despite the investment, the offense has been bad, and poor quarterback play is a big reason.
When was the last time the Seahawks' starting QB had a passer rating of at least 80? That was 2007, when Matt Hasselbeck carried the team to the playoffs and posted a 91.7 rating. Then Hasselbeck's body started to fail him, and they let him walk in free agency before last season and signed Tarvaris Jackson, who had his best year as a pro but still posted only a 79.2 rating while playing through a pectoral muscle injury.
Now, it looks like Flynn will be the starter, and Wilson will be expected to compete with him in the future. Neither is your prototypical 6-foot-4, big-armed sure thing. Both are intriguing talents nonetheless. But can one of them command and elevate this offense? It's a must because, before the Seahawks invest in more weapons, they need to know their quarterback knows how to use them.
4. It is truly Pete Carroll's team now. Schneider has done a great job of working with Carroll to create a team that fits the coach's specifications. They've developed the kind of team that, on paper, Carroll should be able to win with, and starting this season, the pressure will be on Carroll to produce. This is exactly what Carroll wanted when he left USC for one last chance in the NFL. He is truly getting to do it his way now. He wanted more size at cornerback, and Schneider delivered. He wanted to make the roster more physical and produce a run-oriented offense, and Schneider delivered. He wanted more speed on defense, and Schneider delivered. His way. During the second half of last season, it started to bear results. Now, we're about to find out whether his way really works.
5. Russell Wilson's development will define this Seahawks draft class. Yes, it's up to the 5-foot-11 quarterback who scouts say has everything except height. Wilson will be an intriguing case study. As a third-round pick, he is expected to become an NFL starter one day. But at under 6 feet, will he ever be special? The Seahawks are betting that he will. If he pans out, their seemingly odd draft class will look much better.
Finally, vote in this Seattle Times poll, please.