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Consider Percy Harvin this year’s first-round draft choice
Asked last week how he planned to spend the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night, John Schneider smiled and offered, “We’re going to sit there and You Tube Percy Harvin highlights.”
The Seahawks’ fourth-year general manager was joking, but only to a point. Because in a draft where the Kansas City Chiefs are having a difficult time deciding which prospect to select with the first pick overall, it’s a slam-dunk bet that the Seahawks would not have gotten a player at No. 25 in the opening round who is better than the versatile Harvin.
“The closer we’ve gotten to this thing, it’s really kind of stood out that the first round is just a wide variety of players,” said Schneider, being diplomatic while selecting his words in response to a question about the 24-year-old Harvin being the team’s first-round pick.
“It’s really going to be your favorite flavor of ice cream.”
Schneider, coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks already have selected their flavor, rather than waiting to see what might be available at the end of the first round.
As Warren Moon, the Hall of Fame quarterback and analyst for radio broadcasts of Seahawks game, put it recently, “I thought it was a big coup for us, because he’s one of the more dynamic players in this league.”
This isn’t the first time the Seahawks have waded into the draft without a first-round pick, and past performances show that the situation is what you make of it:
1985 – This is a good place to start, because it’s the first time the Seahawks did not have a first-round draft choice and also an example of needing a player at a certain position so badly that it led to a poor choice with the team’s top draft pick.
The Seahawks had sent their first-round pick to the Cincinnati Bengals in a 1983 trade to acquire Blair Bush. No problem there, as first-year coach Chuck Knox needed an anchor at center for his “Ground Chuck” offense and found it in Bush. The former University of Washington center was the 16th pick overall in the 1978 draft by the Bengals, and he would start 78 games in six seasons with the Seahawks.
Despite lining up with three starters at right tackle (Steve August, Bob Cryder and Mike Wilson) and two each at left tackle (Ron Essink and Ron Mattes), left guard (Reggie McKenzie and Edwin Bailey) and right guard (Robert Pratt and Bryan Millard), Bush was the constant in a starting unit that paved the way for Curt Warner to produce four 1,000-yard rushing seasons and the team to advance to the playoffs four times in Bush’s six seasons.
It’s when it came time for the team to make its first draft choice – No. 53 overall in the second round – that things didn’t work out as well. Wanting a fullback to pair with Warner, the Seahawks selected Owen Gill from Iowa. It became apparent early that he was not NFL-ready – physically or mentally. When Knox tried to stash him on injured reserve to give Gill some needed seasoning, he balked and was released. Gill spent time with the Indianapolis Colts (1985-86) and Los Angeles Rams (1987), rushing for 490 yards and three touchdowns in those three seasons.
Knox got his fullback the following year, when the Seahawks selected John L. Williams in the first round – but only after Knox made the cross-country trip to check out the University of Florida product.
But when it came time to make their first pick in the ’88 draft – No. 49 overall in the second round – the Seahawks captured productivity in the proverbial bottle by selecting University of Miami wide receiver Brian Blades. Only one receiver in franchise history has more receptions for more yards than Blades (581 for 7,620), and that’s Hall of Famer Steve Largent (819 for 13,089).
Blades caught passes from some of the most-productive quarterbacks in franchise history (Dave Krieg and Moon), but also some of the least-productive passers to don a Hawk helmet (Kelly Stouffer, Dan McGwire and Rick Mirer). But he had 80 receptions in 1993 and 81 in 1994, on a pair of 6-10 teams. And Blades did the dirty work to do most of his damage by working the middle of the field.
2007 – This proved to the middle ground in the trio of previous drafts where the Seahawks did not have a pick in the opening round. They sent their first-round selection to the New England Patriots in a 2006 trade to acquire wide receiver Deion Branch, then made cornerback Josh Wilson their top pick – at No. 55 overall in the second round.
Branch arrived with skills that seemed to be a perfect match for coach Mike Holmgren’s hybrid of the West Coast offense, and he would catch 190 passes in four-plus seasons with the Seahawks before being traded back to the Patriots in 2010 – for a fourth-round draft choice. But with the Seahawks, Branch never surpassed his reception totals from 2006 (53 catches for 725 yards and four touchdowns).
Wilson started 23 games in three seasons, leading the defense with four interceptions and averaging 24.5 yards as a kickoff returner in 2008. But at 5 feet 9, he lacked the size coach Pete Carroll wants in his corners, so Wilson was traded to the Baltimore Ravens in 2010. He played the past two seasons with the Washington Redskins.
Will this year include a hit, a miss or an in-the-middle scenario? Stay tuned …