Hawks, NFL need hits out of first-rounders
Seattle has succeeded despite being one of four NFL teams that has had six first-round selections since 2000 depart for reasons that include injury, behavior, age and free agency.
Seattle Times NFL reporter
KIRKLAND — NFL teams expect to find stars in the first round of the draft.
It's why franchises spend months scouting college players and millions to sign them once they're drafted. But that doesn't erase the uncertainty. Not in the NFL, and certainly not in Seattle. When the Seahawks cut defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs earlier this week, he became the latest first-round pick to exit Seattle's roster.
Some of the first-rounders got hurt, such as offensive tackle Chris McIntosh and Tubbs, while others got in trouble, such as Koren Robinson and Jerramy Stevens. Shaun Alexander got old, the team decided this winter, and Steve Hutchinson just got out of town in 2006.
Going back to 2000, Seattle has chosen 10 players in the first round of the draft. Six are no longer on the team. It's a staggeringly large number, and one that makes Seattle's current run of success on the field all the more impressive.
San Francisco has lost six of the players it chose in the first round this decade. The 49ers have averaged 4.5 victories over the past four seasons. The Rams also lost six players they picked in the first round from 2000 to 2008. The Rams won only three games last season and haven't made the playoffs since 2004. The Lions have lost five of their first-round picks from 2000 to 2008, and not coincidentally, haven't made the playoffs once in that time.
Yet Seattle has made the playoffs five consecutive seasons and won at least one postseason game each of the past three.
Only the Colts have more consecutive postseason berths, and the Colts have done that by building from within. Indianapolis has chosen seven players in the first round since 2000, and six are still with the team. Like Seattle, New England has five consecutive playoff appearances. The Patriots have chosen nine players in the first round going back to 2000, and all but one are still on the roster.
So Seattle has swum upstream against league trends these past few years, which prompts two thoughts.
1. The Seahawks have done a great job in shoring up the roster through other avenues such as free agency and later rounds of the draft.
2. The Seahawks would be so much better had a few more of those first-round picks from the past eight years panned out.
President Tim Ruskell arrived in 2005 and set about rebuilding the defense by drafting linebackers Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill. He also turned to free agency in part because of necessity. It would've taken too long to patch the defense up through the draft, which is why the Seahawks signed Patrick Kerney to rush the passer and Brian Russell and Deon Grant to play safety.
"To do it all [through the] draft, that would have taken too long," Ruskell said.
The Seahawks have made three first-round picks under Ruskell. All are still with the team. Center Chris Spencer was Ruskell's first pick with the Seahawks and while he's a starter, he has also struggled with shoulder injuries and line calls. He is out with a back so sore he cannot bend over to tie his shoes, coach Mike Holmgren said Monday.
Cornerback Kelly Jennings is a starter, and this year's pick, Lawrence Jackson, is a high-energy defensive end who forced a fumble in Friday's exhibition game in Minnesota. Those are results a team has to get from its first-round picks if it's going to be able to keep its success going.
"You have to hit on that guy," Ruskell said of those first-rounders. "It's too hard to overcome them if you don't. Now you have to go into free agency and spend a lot of money if you miss."
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or email@example.com
|Feeling a draft|
|Only four of Seattle's 10 first-round draft picks from 2000 to 2008 are still with the team, with the six departees matching the NFL's largest attrition:|
|New York Jets||7||6|
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