The Seahawks built the heart of their 2013 Super Bowl champion team with a three-year run of drafts that may be as good as any in NFL history.
In the drafts of 2010, 2011 and 2012, the first three for general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll, the Seahawks selected four players who figure to someday be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame — safety Earl Thomas (first round, 2010), cornerback Richard Sherman (fifth round, 2011), linebacker Bobby Wagner (second round, 2012) and quarterback Russell Wilson (third round, 2012) — and a fifth who some around the team think should be (Kam Chancellor, fifth round, 2010).
In that span, they also drafted linebackers K.J. Wright (fourth round, 2011) and Malcolm Smith (seventh round, 2011, and later the MVP of the Super Bowl), while signing receiver Doug Baldwin as an undrafted free agent in 2011.
That success created a hard — and realistically impossible — act to follow.
But after drafting or signing nine players from 2010-12 who made a Pro Bowl, the Seahawks have drafted just five in nine years since then.
That total would look a little better, though, had the Seahawks made a few different draft-day decisions since 2013.
To be sure, it’s easy to second-guess draft picks, especially with hindsight.
But that’s why Schneider and Carroll make the big bucks, to make the picks and bathe in the praise or accept the heat.
So, here are five draft-day decisions since 2013 they might like to have back.
2013: Drafting Christine Michael at 62 instead of Travis Kelce at 63
The 2013 draft has gone down in infamy as one of the worst first rounds in NFL history — only one of the top 24 picks has ever been named an All-Pro, tackle Lane Johnson, drafted by the Eagles fourth overall.
That was one of the primary reasons Seattle traded its first-round pick that year to get receiver Percy Harvin. That left Seattle with its first pick at No. 56 overall, which the Seahawks then traded to Baltimore to get Nos. 62, 165 and 199.
With 62, the Seahawks took the mercurial Michael, a talented running back out of Texas A&M who wasn’t necessarily a need with Marshawn Lynch in his prime.
That Green Bay took Eddie Lacy at 61 hasn’t helped the perception.
But the Seahawks insisted they had Michael rated as their top running back.
Seattle surely would have preferred Lacy (the one from 2013-16, anyway, and not the version they signed for one disappointing season in 2017). But they might really have preferred to draft Kelce, whose seven Pro Bowl picks are the most of any player taken that year. Seattle did have highly-paid veteran Zach Miller as their starting tight end at the time, so the position wasn’t an immediate need. But the Seahawks did use a pick a little later on a tight end — Luke Willson in the fifth round.
It’s worth remembering that some teams were wary of Kelce after he was suspended for the 2010 season at Cincinnati for reportedly failing a drug test for marijuana (though he came back to play full seasons in 2011 and 2012).
But at a time when the Seahawks could really go best player available and take a chance, passing on Kelce — still one of the top offensive players in the NFL — is a big missed opportunity in retrospect.
2014: Taking WR Paul Richardson at 45
In the year after winning the Super Bowl, the Seahawks had an obvious need at receiver after Golden Tate departed in free agency (and with Harvin having battled injuries in 2013). And it seemed like good fortune for Seattle to have that need as the 2014 receiver draft class was regarded as particularly strong (and one reason the Seahawks were willing to let Tate go).
And while there were reasons to like Richardson, hindsight shows they would have been far better off taking Davante Adams, who was the next receiver off the board at 53 to Green Bay, or Allen Robinson (61 to Jacksonville) or Jarvis Landry (63 to Miami).
2015: Drafting Terry Poole instead of Shaq Mason
Some second-guessing of draft picks can maybe seem a little unfair if a team simply bypasses a player at a position at which it doesn’t have a need.
But here’s one time Seattle was apparently looking specifically for an offensive lineman to take in the middle rounds and, with the benefit of hindsight, missed the boat.
With pick No. 130 in 2015, the Seahawks drafted Poole, who had played tackle at San Diego State but whom the Seahawks on draft day said specifically they wanted to try at guard.
That didn’t work out as Poole was cut before the season began, and while he hung around on the practice squad into 2016, he never played for the Seahawks, nor for two teams he signed with later, the Dolphins and Texans.
Meanwhile, at pick 131, the Patriots took Mason, who had been a four-year starter at guard for Georgia Tech and stepped right into the starting lineup. Mason made 98 starts at both guard spots for the Patriots from 2015-21, signing a five-year, $50 million extension with New England in 2018, before being traded to Tampa Bay last month.
2017: Continuing to trade down to take Malik McDowell at 35, bypassing on T.J. Watt at 30 and Budda Baker at 36
The selection of McDowell is, on paper, the nadir of the Carroll/Schneider drafts. To be fair, no one could have predicted the accident that derailed his career. It’s also worth remembering that they took McDowell after making trades to move down from 26 and acquire four other picks. Seattle used those picks on defensive backs Tedric Thompson, Lano Hill and Mike Tyson and running back Chris Carson. At the time, this was considered a pretty savvy move, and the success of Carson must be factored into any accounting of this trade.
Still, if the Seahawks’ primary goal was to add to their pass rush, it’s hard to ignore that Watt, the NFL’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year, was there at 30.
That would have meant not trading down and getting the extra picks. However, the Seahawks could have made the trades they did to get the extra picks — three of which they used on safeties — and bolstered the safety spot by taking former Bellevue and UW standout Budda Baker, who Arizona selected at 36.
While Thompson (16), Hill (six) and Tyson (zero) combined for 22 career starts for the Seahawks before all being gone by the end of the 2020 season, Baker has 78 starts for Arizona along with four Pro Bowl and two All-Pro nods.
2017: Taking Thompson a pick before Eddie Jackson
And in retrospect, making the 2017 moves look a little worse is that Seattle drafted Thompson at 111 a pick before the Bears selected safety Eddie Jackson at 112.
Jackson’s stock fell a bit since he’d suffered a broken leg in 2016 at Alabama, and he did not take part in drills at the combine. Still, it’s not as if Seattle has been averse to taking some risks.
While Thompson’s Seattle career last just three years, Jackson has emerged as one of the best safeties in the NFL, with two Pro Bowl invites and one All-Pro nod.