1978: Keith Simpson, Keith Butler, John Harris
1981: Kenny Easley, David Hughes, Edwin Bailey, Eric Lane
1986: John L. Williams, Patrick Hunter, Bobby Joe Edmonds
1990: Cortez Kennedy, Terry Wooden, Robert Blackmon, Chris Warren
1997: Shawn Springs, Walter Jones, Itula Mili
2001: Koren Robinson, Steve Hutchinson, Ken Lucas, Floyd Womack, Alex Bannister
Lofa Tatupu was a surprising second-round pick whose impressive development into a Pro Bowl middle linebacker made the Seahawks’ 2005 draft one of the best in franchise history.
So when Tatupu starts singing the praises of this year’s draft class, it’s worth a listen.
“It’s early, but don’t be surprised if it goes down as one of the best drafts in history here,” Tatupu said Monday, standing in the hallway that leads from the practice field to the locker room at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.
“All of them – from top to bottom – they’ve all showed it out there.”
That is saying something, and it comes from the best player in a draft which proceeded – and helped propel – the Seahawks’ run to the Super Bowl in 2005, and also delivered center Chris Spencer, outside linebacker Leroy Hill and tackle Ray Willis.
As Tatupu said, it is early – as team prepares for its second preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at Qwest Field on Saturday night, and puts the wraps on Bing Training Camp after a practice on Thursday afternoon.
But this year’s draft class also has shown very well in the early stages of their NFL careers. Here’s a rundown on each – from top to bottom:
“Russell had a very solid game,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He run blocked really well. He got caught one time on a pass set, where a guy got him pretty good. But all in all, he did very well for his first time out.”
As for that nasty streak, Carroll offered, “He’s a fierce competitor and he loves the game. The more comfortable he gets the more physical he’ll become. He’s got a real streak about him and so we’re really pleased with his progress so far, and just hoping he continues to make good, steady progress up until the opener.”
That’s an excellent lesson to realize this early, because the speed of the game will only increase another notch when the regular season opens Sept. 12 with a game against the division rival San Francisco 49ers at Qwest Field.
“Earl was pretty quiet, he didn’t get many chances,” Carroll said after the game.
Tate just needs to get his hands on the ball more, which will happen when he gets more comfortable in the offense and improves his route running.
“With Golden, as with a lot of the young guys, just to get him on the field and get out there and nothing really bad happened, it was an accomplishment in itself and we’ll just keep growing,” Carroll said.
“He had the best day at the UW scrimmage (on Aug. 8), so there’s nothing to think other than getting him fully healthy,” Carroll said. “He’s just an active, physical kid and he continues to make things happen. So that’s a great sign for us and he’s just another great pick for us.”
Thurmond had four solo tackles against the Titans, to go with his knockout shot on running back
“He’s just another of those young guys who is showing out there,” Tatupu said.
“Kam Chancellor played extremely well,” Carroll said of the rookie intercepting a pass to ice Saturday night’s game and also coming up with two solo tackles. “He was really obvious out there with his tackling.”
“That was just one facet of all the things he can do,” Whitehurst said of McCoy. “With the way we’re using two tight ends, he has the tools to be a factor.”
“Changing him to linebacker, he could be something special in years to come,” Tatupu said. “I’m just very impressed with the way he plays. And he’s only going to get better with experience and just having the knowledge of getting reps.”
Offered Carroll, “He just kind of had to figure it out, had to learn and he started making progress. He’s been very active. The exciting thing is what he did in practice he did in the game. Real positive.”
With more to come, as Tatupu sees it.
“He’s a versatile athletic. He can do it all. He can cover. He can run. He can hit. He can rush the passer,” Tatupu said. “So you get a threat like that, and in the seventh round, I mean that’s ...”
Tatupu paused in midsentence before adding, “I’ve been impressed by all these guys.”