Unable to move down in draft, Seahawks take a risk by selecting James Carpenter
Deals to trade out of first round didn't pan out, so Seahawks drafted Alabama offensive lineman James Carpenter.
Seattle Times staff columnist
Well, now we know why the Seahawks were so adamant about trying to move out of the first round.
Trading down was such a goal for them that when they couldn't consummate a deal, they went ahead and took a second-round NFL draft pick anyway — at No. 25 overall.
Determination is cool and all, but, uh, fellas, who is James Carpenter?
If he's known for nothing else, he'll forever be the reason that no one had a perfect mock draft. That's for sure. Most draft analysts projected Carpenter, an offensive tackle, to be a mid-to-late second rounder. Instead, he was drafted ahead of his Alabama mate Mark Ingram, the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner.
"I mean, Mark is a real good player," a surprised Carpenter said Thursday night. "I'm good myself."
He sounded like a man who knows he'll need to convince you of that. Carpenter admitted to being "shocked" that the Seahawks took him so high. He expected to be taken Friday, so he was watching Thursday's first round mostly to root on teammates Ingram and Marcell Dareus, who was the third overall pick.
Then he received a call from the Seahawks. Nuts.
But was it really that crazy?
The Seahawks had the right idea trying to improve their offensive line, which is their biggest weakness. For the second straight season, general manager John Schneider and coach/head honcho Pete Carroll used their highest pick on a tackle. A year ago, they made their debut as fantastic collaborators by selecting left tackle Russell Okung No. 6 overall. On Thursday, they took another left tackle in Carpenter, but, of course, they're confident he will make a smooth transition to the right side.
"This guy is a real road grader," Carroll said of the 6-foot-4, 321-pounder. "He fits the way we want to bring our program along."
There were flashier and more high-profile players available at No. 25, even at the tackle position. Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi was considered the best tackle available when the Seahawks picked. Ingram was still on the board, but the Seahawks weren't going to draft a running back. Cornerback Jimmy Smith had received a lot of attention. You could say the same for defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, who wasn't drafted in the first round because of concerns about his right knee. Quarterback Andy Dalton, who wasn't picked in the first round either, was also available.
Naturally, the Seahawks are praising Carpenter as their guy, but it seems they had plenty of room to move down in the draft and pick him later. Schneider said he considered three potential deals. Two flamed out fairly early. One he considered heavily, but he decided to pass.
"We had some things fall apart," Schneider said. "For us, it was like, if this guy (is still there), we were going to take him."
Tom Cable, the Seahawks' new assistant head coach in charge of the offensive line, had significant input on this decision. Because Cable has been a part of great O-lines, he inspires confidence that the Seahawks made a good, if unexpected, choice. Some draftniks had called Carpenter a finesse player, but Cable scoffed at the notion.
"I wouldn't have drafted him if he was finesse," Cable snarled. "That's not my style."
Hey, when Cable says you're not soft, then you're not soft. End of story.
Ultimately, the Seahawks were more concerned about finding a good player who fits the style they're trying to create. For them, Carpenter carried a high value because of his physical, aggressive brand of football. In Carpenter and Okung, the Seahawks now have two young bookend tackles to stabilize the offensive line. That's not a bad start. It seems they could've gotten better value out of that No. 25 pick, but they didn't. And now it's on Carpenter to make this decision pan out.
"I'm just aggressive," Carpenter said. "I play hard. I'm mentally tough. I do my best to get the job done. I know football is a tough sport, so that's what I do."
If Carpenter becomes a player, Carroll, Schneider and the Seahawks will be geniuses.
If not, well, they'll be one step closer to the quarterback of their dreams.
Andrew Luck in 2012.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @Jerry_Brewer
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