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Seahawks Mailbag

Posted May 1, 2009

The NFL Draft has come to a close and the Seahawks veterans and rookies are ready to take the field together for the first time.

PHEW! - We can all exhale now that the draft is over. And I think that the fans have a lot to be excited about with the players the Seahawks drafted. A lot of you have written in asking what I think of our draftees, so here are my thoughts on the first three selections:

Aaron Curry, LB (No. 4 overall): Amazing player, amazing man, amazing selection. I think a lot of the Mark Sanchez talk was just hype; I’m sure the Seahawks seriously considered Sanchez, but I’m not sure that he was ever above Curry on their hot list. And really, what’s not to love about Curry? He was without a doubt the best available player at No. 4, and he filled a need for the Seahawks after trading Julian Peterson to the Detroit Lions for Cory Redding and a fifth-round pick. Curry’s effective against the pass, great against the run, and is athletic enough to be an every-down player, which is probably what the Seahawks will ask of him. He’s familiar with the Seahawks’ system because it’s similar to Wake Forest’s, and he was given a copy of the playbook when he left the Seahawks’ facility on Monday afternoon, which will be advantageous when he reports for minicamp on today. His work ethic seems to be just as relentless and dogged as Coach Mora’s, and his passion for the game is evident within minutes of hearing him speak. Talented, charismatic, motivated, persistent—I would use all these adjectives to describe him. I just don’t have enough good things to say about Curry and what he’ll mean to the Seahawks franchise both on and off the field. When asked who Curry could be compared to as a player, Coach Mora was stymied for an answer. Instead, he said, “Someday, they’ll be comparing people to him.” Curry has potential to be not a good player, but a great player.

Max Unger, C (No. 49 overall): Unger is listed as a center, but he has experience playing all over the offensive line, including tackle, and his versatility will definitely be an asset for the Seahawks. It was necessary to pick up an o-lineman in this draft after seeing a bunch of last year’s offensive line go down with injuries. Unger has been a talented, acclaimed lineman during his time at Oregon. His Pac-10 counterpart, Alex Mack from Cal, was selected with No. 21. I’m surprised at how far Unger fell (even though only one other offensive lineman was selected before him in the second round) and am excited that the Seahawks got him—it seems like a steal to nab such a talented and driven player later on in the second round. The other thing that was great about the Seahawks’ second round was trading their original pick (No. 37 overall) to Denver for its first-round pick in 2010. In essence, the Seahawks got a number-one pick and Unger—a player they might even have considered valuable enough to take with that No. 37—in exchange for a few picks in later rounds. I know the saying goes, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” meaning that what you’ve got right now is better than risking the unknown, but you’ve got to think that having two first-round picks next year will be hugely advantageous for the Seahawks.

Deon Butler, WR (No. 91 overall): Butler was a walk-on to Penn State’s football team, and he was originally listed as a defensive back. When he moved to wide receiver, he set a school record with nine touchdown passes caught as a freshman. He obviously has very reliable hands and is a true workhorse, whose goal is to be a dependable, “go-to” type receiver. He’s really fast, too, which means that—depending on how much he’s used on offense—he could prove to be a valuable special teams player too. This is a receiver who personally compared himself—very respectfully—to Bobby Engram, a smaller receiver who prides himself on being a hard-working and reliable passing option. He’s also got a great, team-first attitude: “I’m going to have a lot of guys to learn from—other receivers on the roster that have been there before me. It’s nothing new to me to work hard and not start out on top, and just be the solid contributor, because that’s kind of how I came into Penn State.” He also appreciatively remarked, “I’m just so glad that Seattle believes in me. I’m going to make the pick worth it, because I’m ready to play.”

Now, on to your mail!

 

From: Michael
Q: Did you see Curry’s shoes & gloves at the Combine???

A: Michael,
I sure did! It was as if he was seeing into the future, right?

If you haven’t seen it, find some pictures online. He’s rocking the Seahawks green gloves and cleats!

-Mary Beth


From: Chuck
Q: I would really like to know what the thinking was for passing up the possible draft of Rey Maualuga?

A: Chuck,
I’m not sure that Maualuga was ever really being considered as a draft pick for the Seahawks for a few reasons. First, the Seahawks already have a Pro Bowl middle linebacker—Lofa Tatupu—and he’s only missed one career start in four seasons. There’s no reason to think about replacing him, or paying big money (Maualuga went in the top of the second round) for someone to sit on the bench or play special teams. So, the need wasn’t there.

Second, the Seahawks were offered a first round pick in 2010 for their early second round pick this year. That’s a really tough deal to pass up; think of how many options the Seahawks will have next year with two first-rounders! By the time they traded back into the second round, Maualuga was already off the board. So, the opportunity wasn’t there either.

-Mary Beth


From: Victor
Q: I'm a Seattle boy living in San Diego and faithfully follow the Seahawks since they were formed. I'm wondering about all the stuff I'm reading about the Seahawks needing to draft a QB of the future. I thought Seneca Wallace was supposed to be the QB of the future. Has something changed in the Seahawks coaching staff’s minds? In your opinion is Wallace capable of taking over the reins from Hasselbeck when the time comes?

A: Victor,
Hmm. This is an interesting question. First, I think I should say that I do believe that Matt has another two to three seasons left in him, and more, to be honest.

Say Matt plays for another four years. That would put Seneca in his 12th year in the league before he was a starter. Now, I’m not saying that it couldn’t be done, because it certainly could, and I honestly do believe that Seneca has the ability to be an NFL starter. But I think that at that time, the Seahawks will be looking for another franchise quarterback, not someone to take the reins for two or three years.

All that said, I think that if Seneca were unhappy in his role in Seattle, he would have left to pursue a starting job. But especially now with Coach Mora stepping in, and with the addition of creative offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, Seneca is probably excited about the different ways he’ll be utilized other than just as a quarterback. As long as Matt stays healthy, which the coaches and trainers are optimistic that he will, the door is open for Seneca to be a real star on the Seahawks in all sorts of capacities.

-Mary Beth


From: Derek
Q: Hi MBK. I really like what the Seahawks did with our 1st and 2nd picks but I was wondering… Now that Seattle has two first round picks next year, do you think they will make a move for Anquan Boldin or Braylon Edwards? Thank you and go hhhhhaaaaawwwwwkkkkkkkssssss!

A: Derek,
I think that Seattle is feeling pretty good about where it is in terms of personnel, picking up Ken Lucas in free agency and drafting some great young prospects. Would it be nice to have one of those players? Of course, but I don’t think it’s necessary to win. I think the Seahawks already have a roster that practically guarantees to at least double the number of wins in 2008, and giving up that extra first-round pick seems like an impulsive move right now.

Consider this—the Seahawks will inevitably be better in 2009. That means they’ll probably have a pretty low pick in the first round of the 2010 draft (and if Denver ends up being any good, that’ll be a second low pick). But what if there’s a player in the draft who the Seahawks feel they must have? They can definitely trade into the top five with two low first-rounders, especially if one of those teams in the top five can’t afford to pay for a player that high.

Not to mention, of any position the Seahawks would choose to bolster right now, I think wide receiver would be one of the last. At the first minicamp, ten receivers were listed on the roster, and the Seahawks picked up an eleventh in the third round of the draft. It just doesn’t seem to be necessary.

-Mary Beth


From: Jeff
Q: What do you make of the Seahawks going against a bunch of the scouts and taking Curry instead of Sanchez? Was it just the fact that they wanted an “immediate impact” player, and Sanchez would’ve sat behind Hasselbeck for a while, assuming Hasselbeck was able to stay healthy?

A: Jeff,
That’s definitely a part of it. Ruskell and Coach Mora both said throughout the process that it would be nice to draft a player who could step in and start making a difference this season. However, they also acknowledged that if you draft a good quarterback, it’s okay to let him sit for a few seasons and learn from a veteran like Matt, because it would ultimately be good for the franchise.

More than anything, I think that the Seahawks were very, very crafty and very, very confidential throughout this whole process. I think they wanted Curry from the very beginning, but wouldn’t let anyone know that. They not only allowed the Sanchez rumor mill to get going, they perpetuated it by heavily attending his pro day at USC and by purposely leaving the door open during interviews to drafting a quarterback.

The fact that the Seahawks drafted Curry and not one of the available quarterbacks with their No. 4 pick should ease the minds of all those who have written in and are concerned about Matt Hasselbeck’s health. If the Seahawks were seriously worried that Hasselbeck wouldn’t be an effective quarterback for at least the next two or three seasons, they really might have taken Sanchez. The one problem with that would have been that Tim Ruskell would have been going against his better judgment, which tells him to never take players based on need. Rather, he has learned over the years that it’s always better in the long run to draft the best player available. Luckily, the Seahawks did that. And they landed themselves one of the best players in the 2009 draft class.

-Mary Beth


From: Allen
Q: How does Max Unger fit into the Seahawks’ immediate plans? After making such a big deal about drafting players who can help right now rather than a few years down the road, I don’t see him replacing anyone on the offensive line. Am I wrong?

A: Allen,
Definitely a valid concern, and I don’t have a definite answer for you. But, it’s important for the Seahawks to have more options—and I mean real options, who they can seamlessly put into a game without a noticeable drop-off in talent—all over the line, especially after the injury bug hit the group towards the end of last season. And I’m not even saying that the makeshift line at the end of last season didn’t do its job, because it absolutely did. But what I am saying is that the more talent you put up front, the better off you’ll be all over the field.

Will Unger win a starting spot somewhere on the line? Only time will tell. He’s good enough to start this year in the NFL—that’s one thing I do know. But that talent and strength will be an asset whether he ends up starting for the Seahawks or not.

Plus, I have a hunch that Coach Knapp must have seen something special in Unger, something that will definitely help his trademark powerful running game. I’m excited for him to get on the field so we can see what he can do out there!

-Mary Beth


From: Bryan
Q: GREETINGS MBK!!!! Wow, what an exciting draft. I thought Mr. Ruskell made all the right moves. I can't believe we got Denver’s # 1 pick in 2010. I can only imagine how excited the organization is to have Curry on board. How do you think our draft selections will help us prepare for the Cards twice this year? Do you believe with a healthy Kerney and re-signing Ken Lucas and our stellar linebackers Coach Mora is done adding players to our defense? Do you think we might pick up a veteran safety? Do you know how much cap room we have left? Do you think there might be a little more excitement in free agency? Thanks for your hard work to this great fan forum. MAIL BAG RULES!!!

A: Bryan,
I agree—I think Ruskell did some great things with the Seahawks’ picks this year. I’m also very excited about getting Denver’s first-rounder in 2010. It will give the Seahawks a ton of options when draft time rolls around!

Good question about preparing for the Seahawks’ annual double-dose of the Cardinals. I think Arizona’s offense was significantly stronger than its defense last year—and the same will likely be true again this year, dedicating their first round pick to Beanie Wells, a running back—so let’s look at how the Seahawks’ defense has improved this offseason.

  • Aaron Curry. Many people have said that Curry’s one weakness is his pass rushing, but when a blitz is called, you better believe that Curry is going to get to the quarterback on a lot of those plays. He also will make sure that anything thrown in or around his zone will be covered. He’s also been touted as an extremely intelligent player, so he’ll be able to read Arizona’s pass-heavy offense like a book.
  • Ken Lucas. What an exciting pick-up for the Seahawks! Lucas, Marcus Trufant and Josh Wilson will all be formidable corners this year, and Kelly Jennings and Kevin Hobbs are not far behind. Those long passes to Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston won’t be as threatening when the corners are stepping up and causing problems.
  • Colin Cole and Cory Redding. These defensive linemen are going to stuff up any running game that Arizona thinks it will be able to generate with Wells against the Seahawks. They’re enormous men, but they’re also very mobile and will be able to beat Arizona’s offensive line.
  • Patrick Kerney. His shoulder is healing and he’ll be back to his Pro Bowl form this season. In 2007, he had 14.5 sacks. I definitely expect him to have a similar year in ’09, and the more pressure he puts on the quarterback, the less time Kurt Warner will have to throw the long bombs that taunted the Seahawks in ’08.

I don’t know this for sure, but my guess is that the Seahawks are just about done with free agency. They added seven players in the draft, and another handful of rookie free agents after the draft. They’ve got plenty to juggle right now, and have solidified and deepened all the areas where there may have been question marks previously.

-Mary Beth


From: John
Q: Hi Mary Beth. Let’s start off with the signing of Ken Lucas. He definitely sures up our secondary. I for one was sad to see him go, and happy to see him back. The draft went as well for the Hawks as if they had the number 1 pick. Curry in my opinion was the only player in the top 5 that the Hawks could justify paying the crazy money to these unproven college players. Then to get Denver’s #1 next year was the steal of the draft, also getting Unger--the player they wanted--was impressive. The only worries I have (injuries aside) are the running game, and the o-line. Do you think those two concerns of mine are justified?

A: John,
I think the concerns you have are linked—without a solid offensive line, the running game is going nowhere, and without a good running game, you wouldn’t need athletes on the o-line, you’d just need a bunch of refrigerators standing there to protect the quarterback.

You mentioned Unger, and I think that’s the first step in answering your question. Greg Knapp knows that a great o-line is vital for a dangerous ground attack, and snagging Unger—as I said before—was a total steal late in the second round. Unger’s versatility, toughness, and stop-at-nothing-to-get-the-job-done attitude will be vital for an offensive line that was weakened by injuries by the end of last season. Unger will do whatever is necessary to make sure that the quarterback is protected and the running back has a lane to work through. This is no refrigerator of a lineman; he is dynamic and athletic.

I also think that Greg Knapp is very, very happy with the running back corps he has here in Seattle. He and Coach Mora are excited to use TJ Duckett in an expanded capacity from his limited—albeit effective—responsibility as a short-yardage back last season. Coach Mora has repeatedly said how excited he is about Julius Jones’ potential, and they both love Justin Forsett’s dogged work ethic and his reckless-but-calculated running style. With a zone-blocking offensive scheme, the running lanes will be opened for these tough backs to get through and be explosive and productive.

-Mary Beth

Game Rewind: Seattle Seahawks