This week marks the 10th draft for the Seahawks since head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider were hired in 2010. And in nine previous drafts, Schneider, his scouting department and Carroll have added numerous players who formed the nucleus of a championship-winning team, as well as more recent picks who helped the Seahawks get back to the playoffs in 2018 after an offseason that saw several veterans move on in trades, free agency or because of injuries.
With Schneider and Carroll's 10th draft together approaching later this week, we're taking a look back at some of their most memorable picks, starting off with a look at their best pick in each round. On Wednesday, we'll look at the best players the Seahawks have drafted at every position since Schneider and Carroll took over.
1st Round: Safety Earl Thomas, Pick No. 14 overall, 2010
Carroll and Schneider's first pick, left tackle Russell Okung, was also one of their better first-rounders, as he helped solidify one of the game's most important positions for six seasons before eventually leaving in free agency. But it was the player the Seahawks picked later in the first round, free safety Earl Thomas, who helped the Seahawks eventually build one of the best defenses in NFL history. Before signing with Baltimore this offseason, Thomas was Seattle's starting free safety for nine seasons, earning Pro-Bowl honors six times, first-team All-Pro honors three times and second-team All-Pro honors twice.
2nd Round: Linebacker Bobby Wagner, Pick No. 47 overall, 2012
The Seahawks have drafted several very good players in the second round, but Wagner is the gold-standard for Seahawks second-rounders. As Carroll noted during another first-team All-Pro season for Wagner in 2018, the middle linebacker is in all likelihood on a Hall of Fame track if he keeps up his current play for a few more years—and the same can be said for several other players on this list such as Thomas, Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman.
A five-time All-Pro (first-team four times) and five-time Pro-Bowler, Wagner has been both a leader of Seattle's defense and also one of its most productive players, piling up 916 tackles in seven seasons, never finishing with fewer than the 104 he compiled in just 11 games in 2014.
While Wagner is the easy choice here, he's far from being Seattle's only standout second-rounder. Golden Tate was one of Seattle's top receives before eventually leaving in free agency, Justin Britt has started at three different positions and is now an important leader on Seattle's offense, and Frank Clark and Jarran Reed both had career-best seasons in 2018, combining for 23.5 sacks last season.
3rd Round: Quarterback Russell Wilson, Pick No. 75 overall, 2012
With apologies to Tyler Lockett, one of the Seahawks' top receivers and an All-Pro return man, this one is an easy choice. When you find a starting quarterback in the third round, that's a very good draft pick; when you find a six-time Pro-Bowler who has started every game of his career and reset the franchise record books, that's an all-time great draft pick. Wilson had to wait until the third round to hear his name called in the draft, mostly because teams feared he was too short to succeed in the NFL, but Schneider believed strongly in Wilson's ability to overcome that one deficiency, and the result was one of the most important decisions in franchise history.
In addition to Wilson and Lockett, the third round has also produced a pair of defensive backs who figure to be important to Seattle's future, cornerback Shaquill Griffin, a starter each of the past two seasons, and safety Delano Hill, a player who came on strong late last year before sustaining a season-ending in hip injury.
4th Round: Linebacker K.J. Wright, Pick No. 99 overall, 2011
During their first season together, Schneider and Carroll traded receiver Deion Branch to New England for a fourth-round pick, and the following spring, the Seahawks turned that pick into one of the best linebackers in franchise history, selecting K.J. Wright, who heads into 2019 as the longest-tenured player on the team.
Wright's versatility—he has started at all three linebacker spots during his career—playmaking ability and leadership have helped him become a locker-room and fan favorite over the past eight seasons, as well as a Pro-Bowler and team-leader.
Walter Thurmond, a 2010 fourth-rounder, was a big contributor to the Super Bowl-winning 2013 team, serving as the team's nickel corner, and Tedric Thompson, a 2017-fourth-round pick, started at free safety last year following Earl Thomas' season-ending injury, and should again be a big contributor on defense in 2019. Tight end Will Dissly, last year's fourth-rounder, got off to a great start as a rookie before sustaining a season-ending knee injury in Week 4, and figures to be a big part of the offense moving forward.
5th Round: Safety Kam Chancellor, Pick No. 133 overall, 2010 & Cornerback Richard Sherman, Pick No. 154 overall, 2011
When it comes to building a championship-caliber defense, drafting a pair of franchise icons in the fifth round is a heck of a place to start, and that's exactly what the Seahawks did in 2010 and 2011 when they landed Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman.
Neither player started right away—Chancellor played primarily on special teams as a rookie while backing up Lawyer Milloy, while Sherman took over a starting job midseason because of injuries—but both quickly established themselves as Pro-Bowl caliber players once they got their shot.
Both players had outstanding Seahawks careers to the point that it's too difficult to decide who was the better pick. Sherman was the more decorated player in terms of All-Pro and Pro-Bowl honors while in Seattle, and was responsible for one of the most famous and significant plays in franchise history, but Chancellor was the tone-setter, both with his physical play and his leadership. In other words, it will be impossible to someday tell the story of the Carroll/Schneider-era Seahawks without including the substantial contributions of both players.
The Seahawks have made some other notable picks in the fifth round, including longtime tight end Luke Willson, defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson, and a pair of 2018 picks who made big contributions last year—starting cornerback Tre Flowers and All-Pro punter Michael Dickson.
6th Round: Cornerback Byron Maxwell, Pick No. 173 overall, 2011
While Sherman and Wright have had the longest and most successful careers out of Seattle's 2011 picks, there were other players who made significant contributions, from first-round pick James Carpenter to seventh-rounder Malcolm Smith to Maxwell, a starter during both of Seattle's Super Bowl runs.
Maxwell took over for Brandon Browner at right cornerback late in the 2013 season, then was the starter at that spot throughout the 2014 season before landing a big free agent deal following Super Bowl XLIX. He returned to Seattle late in the 2017 season after Sherman was lost to an Achilles injury, starting six games.
Another sixth-round pick, Jeremy Lane, also made big contributions at cornerback and on special teams, starting 21 games and appearing in 70 from 2012-2017.
The Seahawks are hoping last year's sixth-round pick, linebacker Jacob Martin, can build off of a strong finish to 2018 and be a big part of the pass rush this season.
7th Round: Running Back Chris Carson, Pick No. 249 overall, 2017
While 2011 seventh-rounder Malcolm Smith was a Super Bowl MVP who started 16 games in four seasons with Seattle, 2017 seventh-rounder Chris Carson gets the nod here, both for his 1,151-yard season last year, and for what he figures to mean to the offense going forward. For an offense to have the type of balance and physical running game that Carroll wants, it needs to have a good running back, and last year Carson showed he can be just that, becoming the Seahawks' first 1,000-yard rusher since Marshawn Lynch in 2014.
J.R. Sweezy, part of the 2012 class, was another great value pick, becoming a starting guard as a defensive line convert, then returning to Seattle in 2018 and playing well enough to be named a Pro-Bowl alternate.
The Seahawks are also hoping that 2017 seventh-rounder David Moore can build off the promise he showed in spurts last year and make big contributions at receiver this year.
UDFA: Receiver Doug Baldwin, 2011
Carroll and Schneider have said on multiple occasions that they consider the undrafted rookies they sign after the draft to be members of their draft class, and given the talent they've added via rookie free agency, it's easy to understand why.
Undrafted players have made big contributions throughout Carroll and Schneider's tenure in Seattle, none more so than Doug Baldwin, a two-time Pro-Bowler who has the second most touchdown receptions in franchise history behind Steve Largent and the third most receiving yards and receptions behind Largent and Brian Blades.
Plenty of other undrafted players signed by Carroll and Schneider have gone onto become starters or big-time contributors, including receiver Jermaine Kearse, who has made some of the biggest catches in franchise history, cornerback DeShawn Shead, linebacker Mike Morgan, receiver Ricardo Lockette, tackle George Fant and defensive tackle Poona Ford.
Photos from the Seattle Seahawks' 2019 voluntary offseason workout program on Tuesday, April 23 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.