Bobby Wagner on 2012 rookie class: 'We were doubted countless times'

A collection of rookies who were much maligned when the Seahawks were compiling the group is getting the last laugh as the Class of 2012 is about to play in the Super Bowl in back-to-back seasons.

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Bruce Irvin. Bobby Wagner. Russell Wilson. Robert Turbin. Jeremy Lane. J.R. Sweezy.

The Seahawks selected them, one by one, in the 2012 NFL Draft. And one by one, each selection was panned by the national pundits.

Irvin, the first-round pick, was a one-trick-pony player with a troubled past. Wagner, who was taken the second round, was a too-small middle linebacker from a too-small school (Utah State). Wilson, the third-round selection, was too short the play quarterback in the NFL. Turbin, who was added in the fourth round, played the same position as Marshawn Lynch – so why would the Seahawks take him? Lane, a sixth-round pick, was a too-skinny cornerback from a really too-small school (Northwestern State in Louisiana). Sweezy, who was added with the 225th pick overall, was a defensive lineman who the Seahawks selected to play guard.

Supplementing this group of why-would-they-take-them draft picks were wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and defensive back DeShawn Shead, who were signed as free agents after not even being drafted.

Here's what Bleacher Report had to say about the Seahawks' Class of 2012: "As if the day wasn't bad enough, Seattle selecting Russell Wilson, a QB that doesn't fit their offense at all, was by far the worst move of the draft. With the two worst moves of the draft (Irvin being the other), Seattle is the only team that received an F on draft day."

And they weren't alone. Other draft grades at the time: C, from the NFL Network; C-minus, from ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.; D, from The Sporting News.

But look who's laughing now, and just think where the Seahawks would be without these eight players they supposedly could have done without. Not heading to their second consecutive Super Bowl, that's for sure.

"That whole group that was drafted, we were doubted countless times," Wagner said on Thursday, when the Seahawks continued to prepare for their matchup against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1.

"I was too small and all the other stuff; and similar things were said about others in my rookie class. But we're in a position to possibly win two Super Bowl championships in our first three seasons. So for a bunch of draft picks that they thought were nothing, we've impacted this team a lot."

Have they ever. Just check the contributions that the 2012 rookie class has made:

Irvin

He led all NFL rookies with eight sacks in 2012, in that one-trick-pony role as a rush-end. But Irvin has since developed into the starting strong-side linebacker and still rushes the passer in the nickel defense. Irvin returned two interceptions for touchdowns this season, when he also had 6.5 sacks to finish half a sack behind team leader Michael Bennett.

Wagner

He was voted All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl this season, despite missing five games at midseason with a torn ligament in his foot, and finished second of the NFL's No. 1-ranked defense with 104 tackles. Wagner had a franchise rookie-record 140 tackles in 2012 and added 119 in 2013.

Wilson

Where to begin with all the big things the too-short QB has accomplished? With the most important number, as Wilson has won more games in his first three seasons (42) than any quarterback in NFL history.

Turbin

He's performing in that ever-present shadow of Lynch, but Turbin continues to make the most of his opportunities. He averaged 4.2 yards on 74 carries and scored on two of his 16 receptions during his third season.  

Lane

When he arrived, the Seahawks still had Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond. When they left in free agency last offseason, Lane stepped in as the nickel back. And he also remains one of the better special teams players in the league.

Sweezy

Only one offensive lineman has started all 18 games this season, and it's the one who played defensive tackle at North Carolina State. Sweezy admits through a smile that he now feels like an offensive lineman. But even better is the fact that he now plays like a NFL guard, not a former D-lineman who is trying to play guard.

Kearse

What has he done lately? Only catch the game-winner from Wilson in overtime of Sunday's NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers. Then there was his pinball TD in the Super Bowl last February, where he caught a short pass from Wilson and spun from and bounced off three would-be tacklers on his way to the end zone. And before that, there was his TD reception on a fourth-and-7 play to give the Seahawks their first lead in last seasons' NFC Championship game.

Shead

The versatility of the Portland State product is evident every day in practice. He plays safety. He plays cornerback. He plays nickel back. And he's also a core special teams player.

Coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider handled the Draft Day criticism back in 2012 as they do all "the noise," as Wilson always refers to it. They ignored it.

"That was the one at the time, in our small circles behind closed doors, we talked about, 'This could be the one. This is the draft class that could really a make a difference,' " Carroll said recently. "We'll find out. We've got a lot of years, a lot of time to put it together before we say something like that. But it's got the potential to be a great class for this franchise."

This group already has helped the Seahawks accomplish something no other team in franchise history has by winning the Super Bowl last February.

"Everyone told us we weren't going to be any good. We've heard that a lot," Wilson said. "No matter what anybody tells you, you have to be a self-motivator. That's what we have in the 2012 class of the Seattle Seahawks. They're all self-motivators.

"We all believe in each other, we all believe in ourselves and we've all kind of just pushed each other. When we first got here, I know we had a 2012 meeting and I kind of told the guys, 'I want to be the best class there's ever been.' That's kind of been our mindset."

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