Don’t snicker at those extra seventh-round picks

Posted Mar 19, 2013

When the NFL handed out compensatory draft choices on Monday, the Seahawks were awarded a pair of seventh-round selections. And the club has been able to find players with these late picks in the past.

The Seahawks are back to having 10 picks in next month’s NFL Draft after being awarded two compensatory draft choices.

Those extra picks – both in the seventh round – don’t quite compensate for the Seahawks giving up their first-round pick and a seventh-rounder in last week’s trade with the Minnesota Vikings to acquire receiver/returner/runner Percy Harvin.

But draft picks are what you do with them, so even the pair the Seahawks picked up on Monday – No. 241 and No. 242 overall – can translate into players who perform beyond their draft status.

“There are tons of players out there who can help your team, it’s just a matter of identifying those players and how they fit your scheme,” Scott Fitterer, the Seahawks’ director of college scouting, said recently.

“I think our scouts do a great job of really working the back end of the roster. That’s what really separates good scouting staffs. A lot of times, it’s easy to grade rounds 1-3. Those guys just jump out on tape and those are easy evaluations. It’s the guys (in rounds) 4-7 and free agency, there are some good football players down there and it’s our job to go in, break them down, identify those players.”

So before you mutter, “And what can they possibly hope to get in the seventh round of the draft,” consider this list of players the Seahawks have selected in the seventh round of previous drafts:

Running back David Sims (1977) – He scored 14 touchdowns in his second season before a neck injury prematurely ended his career.

Free safety John Harris (1978) – He started all 16 games as a rookie and made 112 starts in eight seasons with the Seahawks. Harris led the team in interceptions in 1981 (10) and 1985 (seven) and had 100-plus tackles in 1978 (113) and 1980 (119).

Linebacker Sam Merriman (1983) – He was a special teams star in the making before a knee injury – in overtime of a preseason game – ended his career in 1988. Merriman blocked two punts in 1985, recovering one for a touchdown, and also had two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries while covering kickoffs.

Left tackle Ron Mattes (1985) – He started 59 games in five seasons, blocking for Curt Warner’s 1,000-yard seasons in 1986 and 1988.

Defensive end Michael McCrary (1993) – He led the AFC with 13.5 sacks in 1996, and went on to become a two-time Pro Bowl selection after signing with the Baltimore Ravens in free agency in 1997.

Kicker Josh Brown (2003) – He scored 100-plus points in each of his five seasons with the Seahawks, including a club rookie record 114 in 2003; and 127 in 2007, the second most by a kicker in franchise history.

Wide receiver Ben Obomanu (2006) and running back Justin Forsett (2008) – They were jack-of-all-trades performers, making plays on special teams as well as on offense. Obomanu caught 67 passes in 2010-11, while Forsett scored seven touchdowns in 2009-10.

In the past two drafts, general manager John Schneider and his staff have added linebacker Malcolm Smith (2011) and guard J.R. Sweezy and defensive lineman Greg Scruggs (last year).

Smith started three games on the weak side last season, when he also scored one touchdown on special teams by recovering a muffed punt and set up another by blocking a punt. Sweezy also started three games during the regular season as a rookie, and then both playoff games at right guard. Scruggs had two sacks and six QB hits in limited snaps last season.

The Seahawks’ extra seventh-round picks this year were among the 32 compensatory draft choices the league awarded based on players lost and signed in free agency last year. While the Seahawks added backup quarterback Matt Flynn and since-departed defensive lineman Jason Jones, they lost middle linebacker David Hawthorne, who led the team in tackles for three consecutive seasons (2009-11); tight end John Carlson, who set single-season club records for his position in receptions (55) and receiving yards (627) as a rookie in 2008; safety Atari Bigby and backup QB Charlie Whitehurst.

The Atlanta Falcons and Ravens received four compensatory picks, the most a team can be awarded; while the Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans each got an extra pick in the third round, the highest compensatory draft choice that can be awarded.

Since the league started awarding compensatory picks in 1994, the Seahawks have received 20 – including the one used to select Smith in 2011. The Ravens have been awarded a league-high 37 compensatory draft choices.