The 2017 draft was nearing its conclusion when, with the last of their 11 picks, the Seahawks selected Chris Carson, a running back out of Oklahoma State who, at Pick No. 249 overall, was picked ahead of only four other drafted players.
In the moment, it was an easy pick to overlook given how late Carson was drafted, how many players the Seahawks had already picked, and his underwhelming stats during a two-year career at Oklahoma State, where he carried 213 times for 1,076 yards in 21 games.
But then, just a few minutes after the draft had concluded, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider met with the media, and hearing Carroll talk on that late-April evening two and a half years ago, it was obvious how excited he was about Seattle's final pick of the 2017 draft.
"I was hanging on Chris Carson," Carroll said. "… I really love this guy because he is so physical and tough the way he ran. You haven't heard a whole lot about him he hasn't run the ball a lot, but when he did, he made a great statement of his style and a style we really covet.
"I fell I love with how tough he is and how aggressive he is."
Three seasons into his NFL career, plenty of people have "heard a whole lot about" Chris Carson, and the Seahawks' starting running back is making his coach look very good for raving about him on draft day.
On an otherwise disappointing night in Los Angeles, Carson was one of the bright spots, rushing for 76 yards on 15 carries, giving him 1,057 rushing yards to go along with a career-best 242 receiving yards on 35 catches. Carson, who had 1,151 yards in 2018, is the sixth Seahawks back to go over 1,000 rushing yards in consecutive seasons, and the first since Marshawn Lynch did it for four straight years from 2011 to 2014.
Even if his resume coming into the league didn't suggest this kind of production, it's something Carson always believed he could do.
"I always had goals for myself; 1,000 yards was one of them," he said. "I always believed in myself when a lot of people didn't. I'm glad to see that my goals are starting to show and starting to pay off."
And it isn't just that Carson has been responsible for a lot of yards and touchdowns over the past two seasons that makes him an important part of the team, it's also the physical style with which he plays. Watch closely when Carson runs over a defensive back on the sideline or powers through a linebacker for a few extra yards, and you'll see an entire team, and not just an offense, that feeds off of that style of running.
"It just hypes us up," linebacker K.J. Wright said. "He's a guy who really sets the tone for this team. Ever since Marshawn left, it feels good to have somebody back there with that style that can run in between the tackles, catch the ball out of the backfield, get those short third-and-1s, keep those drives moving. He's a heck of a football player.
Wright added that seeing Carson finish a physical run tells the rest of the team that, "it's time to play ball. When the guy's running over DBs, it definitely gets you hyped. I love playing with him, he's a heck of teammate, just comes to work, puts his head down and just gets 1,000 yards. I expect him to do it again next year."
Left tackle Duane Brown said that Carson's physical style of play "just gives us momentum, it gives us an added boost. It's demoralizing for a defense. I've talked to guys we've played against, they don't want to deal with that for four quarters—having to tackle a running back like him for four quarters. So we're very grateful for him."
It hasn't been a perfect season for Carson, who has lost four fumbles after losing only two in his first two seasons, but overall it has been another very strong year.
"It means a great deal to us, it always has," Carroll said of Carson going over 1,000 yards again. "To have a running back that has the attitude that we like to exhibit and the mentality. Chris has been exactly that. We've had pretty good style in our running backs over the years and Chris has really generated the consistency. To come back to back and do that, that's tremendous work. It's been a trying year for him. He's been challenged. Had to get his way back into the rhythm of things and all that, but he's done it well. He certainly has maintained the attitude that really stands for all of us. When he's carrying the ball, we're proud to see him run. The defense takes great pride in that as well as the offense. The big guys up front, they're really proud of the fact that he was able to come back again and get 1,000 yards because those are the guys that had to make it happen. They all share that."
As Carroll noted, a 1,000-yard rusher is as much an accomplishment for a line as it is for the individual, and Seattle's linemen take a lot of pride in Carson's success.
"It's a great feeling," said Brown. "We're doing our job up front, giving him lanes to run through, but it's also just a testament to him. He's the hardest, toughest running back in the league in my opinion. He earned those yards thoroughly. It means a lot to us as a line though."
Added right tackle Germain Ifedi, "He's a hell of a runner. He makes us look really good, and it's a testament to the work he has put in. As a line, we just do our best to stay out of his way and create holes for him. He's a heck of a player—a seventh-round pick, but his talent is much better than that. We appreciate the hell out of everything he does, and we know he's going to continue to run hard for us and run hard for this team."