Throughout their tenure with the Seattle Seahawks, Head Coach Pete Carroll and General Manager John Schneider have built a legacy by capitalizing on the NFL Draft. Whether it’s finding diamonds in the rough in the later rounds, or striking gold with undrafted free agents, the draft period has become the foundation of Seattle’s roster year in and year out.
Examples of this are strewn about seasons past; Russell Wilson in the third round, Bobby Wagner in the second, Richard Sherman in the fifth and Doug Baldwin from the undrafted ranks. These players were passed up multiple times by all 32 teams but wound up being Pro Bowlers in Seattle. Though recent years have been a little bare when compared to the 2011-12 seasons, the Seahawks 2017 draft class appears to be a step forward in the right direction.
Yes, I know only one year removed is way too soon to have a definitive answer on the quality of the class, but c’mon, news is slow right now and it’s fun to look back. With that said, lets review Seattle’s 2017 draft selections and see how they did and where they stand as they enter 2018.
2017 Draft Picks:
Round 2, No. 35 overall: Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State:
2017 in review: McDowell didn’t play a snap in 2017 after suffering multiple severe injuries in an offseason ATV accident. He was then arrested in December for disorderly conduct.
Prospects for 2018: Despite the arrest and seriousness of his injuries, Seattle is nonetheless holding on to McDowell. As they haven’t medically cleared him or cut him yet, they may place him on the Physically Unable to Perform list again.
Analysis: It’s going to be a wait-and-see case with McDowell. There is no timetable for a return and all appearances indicate his career is over. Even without the injuries, there were enough pre-draft red flags (now seemingly warranted) surrounding Malik that this pick could have been considered a reach. As it stands today, a swing and a miss by the Seahawks.
Round 2, No. 58: Ethan Pocic, OL, LSU
2017 In Review: Pocic was inserted into the starting lineup in week seven after Luke Joeckel went down with a knee injury. Ethan played in all 16 games, starting 11 at the left and right guard spots. Allowed only two sacks all year and was named to NFL.com’s 2017 All-Rookie team.
Prospects for 2018: Added 20 pounds in the offseason and figures to start at left guard. Will provide the Seahawks with an important piece to build on in reconstructing their offensive line.
Analysis: Solid pick, Pocic should be a fixture of the line for the next several years.
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Round 3, No. 90: Shaquill Griffin, CB, Central Florida:
2017 In Review: Played 876 snaps as a rookie in eleven starts. Finished the year with 58 tackles, one interception and 15 passes pass break-ups. According to PFF, Griffin held opposing quarterbacks to a 75.2 passer rating when he was targeted. The former UCF Golden Knight has earned plenty of praise from his Head Coach. “He just looks like he’s a veteran,” Pete Carroll told reporters in June. “He grew a ton out of last season. Remember, we didn’t have a lot of problems with him last year. There was not an inconsistency to him. There was not the rookie wall. There was none of that kind of stuff.”
Prospects for 2018: Is set to replace Richard Sherman as the Seahawks’ starting left cornerback.
Another fine example of Griffin flying to the football on a Gurley run. Showing off that elite athleticism… pic.twitter.com/K82a7nWqV9
— Corbin Smith (@CorbinSmithNFL) October 9, 2017
Analysis: It appears Seattle hit a home run with Griffin. He will never be Richard Sherman but Shaquill showed plenty of promise as a rookie. Projects to be a solid starter for years to come.
Round 3, No. 95: Delano Hill, S, Michigan:
2017 In Review: A box safety with 4.47 speed, the Seahawks drafted Hill with the hopes of grooming him to one day replace Kam Chancellor. Hill played 15 games for Seattle and saw 32 snaps on defense, totaling five tackles. Received significant playing time on special-teams, logging over 280 snaps.
Prospects for 2018: With Chancellor expected to miss the season to injury and Earl Thomas holding out, Hill has a great opportunity to see significant playing time. Throughout OTAs and minicamp, Delano has been getting starter’s reps at the strong safety spot. Appears to be Seattle’s first choice to fill in for Chancellor.
Analysis: An immediate contributor on the kicking teams as a rookie, 2018 looks to be a huge year for Hill. With a big role expected for this season, Delano is trending towards being an impact pick by the Seahawks.
Round 3, No. 102: Nazair Jones, DT, North Carolina:
2017 In Review: Before going down in week 16 with a sprained ankle, Jones was in on 284 plays with the defense. In eleven games (two starts) the rookie accumulated two sacks and 24 total tackles. Earned a 75.5 grade from Pro Football Focus, the fourth-best score amongst all rookie defensive tackles.
Prospects for 2018: Jones should see the field on the majority of passing downs for the defense. Will battle with veteran free-agent additions Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen for the starting tackle spot alongside Jarran Reed.
Analysis: Nazair flashed plenty of promise in 2017 and will have a significant role in 2018. A great value pick by Seattle in the third round.
Round 3, No. 106: Amara Darboh, WR, Michigan:
2017 In Review: Played in all 16 games, with most of his action coming on special teams. Saw 191 snaps on offense and caught eight of thirteen targets for 71 yards.
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— Michigan Sports News (@SportsGuyMI) September 17, 2017
Prospects for 2018: A big-bodied receiver with 4.45 speed, Darboh will battle with Brandon Marshall and Jaron Brown for the third receiver job. A solid cover player on special-teams, Amara can be considered a lock to make the 53-man roster.
Analysis: Seattle has been historically bad at drafting wide receivers in the third round, but Darboh may be the player to switch up that pattern. A significant contributor on the kicking teams (two tackles, 159 special-teams snaps), Amara was fairly productive when he got in on offense. Despite his modest success, this will be a make-or-break season for Darboh. With a crowded depth chart at receiver, he will have to make a big jump from his rookie year to stick around in 2019 and beyond.
Round 4, No. 111: Tedric Thompson, S, Colorado:
2017 In Review: Perhaps drafted with an eye towards the pending Earl Thomas contract situation, Seattle nabbed the safety with coveted cover skills in the fourth round. Buried on the depth chart last year, Thompson was active for nine games. Playing mostly on special teams (104 snaps) he totaled four tackles and two fumble recoveries.
Prospects for 2018: If Earl Thomas does end up missing time, Thompson will be the top backup at free safety to Bradley McDougald. Tedric has also lined up some during OTAs at strong safety and will challenge Delano Hill for snaps. Should have an active role on the kick coverage teams.
Analysis: By the time a team gets to the fourth round of the draft, they are looking for developmental players who can immediately contribute some on special-teams. Thompson hits the mark perfectly as that caliber of prospect. A quality depth pick by Schneider and co.
Round 6, No. 187: Mike Tyson, S, Cincinnati:
2017 In Review: A safety in college, Seattle converted the 6’1″ Tyson to cornerback. Played only one preseason game and was on the Seahawks active roster for weeks 15-17 of the regular season. Did not register a snap on defense. Essentially was a redshirt year while he learned a new position.
Prospects for 2018: If Earl Thomas misses time to the holdout or is traded/released, Mike may see some time at safety as well as cornerback. Due to his versatility, Tyson has a good chance to stick in 2018.
Analysis: With very limited on-field time in 2017, hard to gauge his status. Tyson will be another player who must make the expected improvement between their rookie and second seasons if he is to stick around in the long term.
Round 6, No. 210: Justin Senior, OL, Mississippi State:
2017 In Review: The athletic tackle spent the whole year on Injured Reserve with a knee injury. Unable to return to health, Seattle waived Senior with an injury settlement in December.
Prospects for 2018: The Canadian born Senior has yet to sign with another NFL team. He was also a 2017 draft pick by Edmonton in the CFL and may play up north this year.
Analysis: Seattle was excited to have Senior on the roster, but his inability to suit up eventually made him expendable. A typical low-risk, low-reward pick that didn’t work out.
Round 7, No. 226: David Moore, WR, East Central (Oklahoma):
2017 In Review: After totaling four catches for 44 yards during the 2017 pre-season, Moore was let go by Seattle during the final roster cutdown to 53 players on September 3rd. The Seahawks re-signed Moore to the practice squad one day later. Was activated prior to the week 17 game against the Cardinals but did not accumulate any stats.
Prospects for 2018: With 4.43 speed and standing at 6-0 and 219 pounds, Moore is the type of size-speed prospect Pete Carroll loves. Moore was singled out by Carroll for having a great 2018 minicamp. The Seahawks’ wide receiver depth chart is wide open after the top two spots, and Moore has a great shot at sticking on the 53 man roster.
Analysis: Moore struggled as a rookie in transitioning from the D-II collegiate ranks, but appears to have made a ton of progress heading into his second season. The jury is still out. If Moore makes the 53-man roster to start the year, he’ll be another example of Seattle successfully hitting on a late-round player.
Round 7, No. 249: Christopher Carson, RB, Oklahoma State:
2017 In Review: Carson turned some heads during training camp and earned a significant role as the season began. Got off to a hot start before suffering a season-ending broken ankle in Week 4. Carson averaged 4.2 yards per carry en route to 208 rushing yards. Also caught seven passes for 59 yards and a touchdown. Over the four games he played, Chris was ranked fifth out of 57 NFL running backs with a PFF overall grade of 82.5. Forced 11 missed tackles on 49 carries.
Prospects for 2018: Will open the year as the Seahawks’ starting running back. A tough between the tackles runner, Carson will have his hands full holding off rookie Rashaad Penny, who is also well known for gaining yards after contact. Despite Penny’s presence, Chris should receive a large share of the carries for 2018.
Analysis: With the promise shown during 2017, Carson appears to be another great late-round gem unearthed by Carroll and Schneider.
Of Seattle’s eleven 2017 draft picks, four are projected to open the year as starters with two more expected to be in the mix. Three others could be considered solid depth players. As recent drafts have gone for the Seahawks, the 2017 class is shaping up to be the most well-rounded of them all, with contributors up and down the list.
David Rogers covers the Seahawks for Full Press Coverage. Follow him on Twitter.