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Originally published Monday, December 15, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Danny O'Neil

Wins, improvement more important than Seahawks' draft position

The NFL draft already gets too much attention. We certainly don't need to start evaluating all those possibilities in December before underclassmen have even declared whether they'll be eligible. Save the worries for something that merits such concern like quarterback Matt Hasselbeck's back or tackle Walter Jones' knee.

Seattle Times NFL reporter

ST. LOUIS — This week's episode of "The Biggest Loser" featured two teams from the NFC Worst ... err ... NFC West playing in front of a crowd that wasn't all that much bigger than a studio audience.

The game will be recorded as a 23-20 victory for Seattle, but this season has gone so wrong that some will bemoan the first win in more than a month because it cost the Seahawks draft position.

The winless Detroit Lions have a headlock on the top overall pick. St. Louis' defeat combined with Cincinnati's victory over Washington leaves the Rams and Chiefs tied with the second-worst record in the league at 2-12. The Seahawks are 3-11, tied with Oakland, and would pick fifth according to the current standings.

Uh-oh, Seattle might not be able to pick Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree now, never mind the fact that he hasn't even said he'll enter the draft. Oh no, maybe the Seahawks won't be in position to take a tackle like Alabama's Andre Smith or Mississippi's Michael Oher in April.

Please. The NFL draft already gets too much attention. We certainly don't need to start evaluating all those possibilities in December before underclassmen have even declared whether they'll be eligible. Save the worries for something that merits such concern like quarterback Matt Hasselbeck's back or tackle Walter Jones' knee.

The fact that people are even worried about draft position is purely a result of the fact there's nothing left to root for in this Seahawks season, and the idea that the Seahawks have nothing left to gain by winning this season overlooks the scar tissue that every loss generates inside a locker room. Each additional defeat is one more week a franchise becomes accustomed to losing, and this season can't be written off like a bad investment because a lot of these players are going to be back and Seattle needs to find a way to win with them.

It's going to take more than one player to repair the Seahawks. More than one draft class, in fact. The Seahawks are going to get better only with improvement from within the roster, and there were positive steps in that direction Sunday.

Backup quarterback Seneca Wallace once again played well, lending more evidence that his struggles in four games earlier this year were because of a sore calf and groin. Tight end John Carlson continued to be Seattle's most reliable receiving threat and Deion Branch had another productive afternoon that makes you think that bringing him back as a starter next season wouldn't be such a bad idea.

There's no quick fix to the Seahawks' problems. No one player to answer the questions, which is why it's a mistake to spend too much time this month wondering just how high the Seahawks are going to pick.

Besides, even after months of preparation, the draft is an uncertain prospect at best. Take Vernon Gholston, the linebacker who was one of the players Miami reportedly negotiated with as a potential No. 1 pick before choosing tackle Jake Long. Gholston was picked sixth by the New York Jets, he has no sacks this season and was not even among the Jets' 45 active players for Sunday's game against Buffalo.

There are times that drafting in a certain spot makes all the difference, but usually that involves one of those impeccable quarterback prospects who tend to come around twice every decade. Drew Bledsoe was one, Rick Mirer was a forgettable No. 2. Peyton Manning was first, Ryan Leaf a distant second.

But there's no single quarterback like that in this year's draft, and even if there was, a quarterback is not the position the Seahawks should be drafting in the first round. Not with the deficiencies this team has along both its offensive and defensive lines and the lack of a big-play threat at wide receiver.

Fixing all that is going to take more than two days' worth of draft picks. It's going to require effort across the roster to change the franchise's fortunes for next season, which is why Sunday was a step forward even if it moved Seattle back in the draft order.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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About Danny O'Neil
Danny O'Neil will comment on issues, events and personalities in the NFL. His column will appear on Sundays during the regular season. He also posts most days on the Seahawks Blog.
doneil@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2364

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