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Originally published April 30, 2011 at 8:19 PM | Page modified May 1, 2011 at 2:58 PM

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Hawks load up on players to help defense on last day

After choosing two offensive linemen in the first three rounds, Seattle chose six defensive players over the final four rounds, starting with K.J. Wright.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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RENTON — The final day of the draft began too quietly for Seahawks general manager John Schneider.

He just couldn't figure out why Mississippi State linebacker K.J. Wright was whispering into the phone after being told Seattle had chosen him with the second pick of the fourth round.

"You've got to get fired up," Schneider said. "You're about to talk to coach Carroll."

Turns out Wright was preparing to walk across the stage at Mississippi State's graduation.

"They caught me right in the middle of it," Wright said. "I was just happy to get the phone call, though."

Seattle was happy to make it, using the first of seven draft choices in the final four rounds to select a well-rounded defensive captain with a hint of pass-rushing ability for good measure.

Consider it Seattle's quiet first step to a furious finish of the NFL's three-day draft. After choosing two offensive linemen in the first three rounds, Seattle chose six defensive players over the final four rounds, starting with Wright.

Cornering the market

Carroll has been picturing cornerback Richard Sherman in his secondary for a while now. Like five years, if you want to know the truth.

Carroll offered Sherman a USC scholarship coming out of Dominguez High School in Southern California. In fact, Carroll told Sherman he was the perfect size for a lockup corner, and to this day, Sherman's email address starts "lockedup2006" because of that conversation.

But Sherman picked Stanford instead of USC, becoming just the second person from Dominguez to attend Stanford and the first athlete. While at Stanford, the guy Carroll wanted to play cornerback at USC instead preyed upon the cornerbacks at USC. Sherman was a wideout his first two years for the Cardinal. As a sophomore in 2007, Sherman outleaped a quartet of Trojans for a 20-yard reception on fourth-and-20, a key play in Stanford's upset of Carroll's top-ranked USC team. Stanford entered that game as a 41-point underdog.

He caught 81 passes in two seasons, suffered a knee injury that forced him to use a medical redshirt in 2008, and then switched to defensive back.

The Seahawks also picked Clemson cornerback Byron Maxwell in the sixth round.

Making a mark

Mark Legree wasn't at a loss for words when he learned the Seahawks had chosen him in the fifth round. It's just that emotions got in the way for the safety from Appalachian State.

"You could hear him choking up on the phone," Schneider said.

Legree has come a long way since coming out of Pacelli Catholic High School in Columbus, Ga., where there were 28 students in his graduating class. Appalachian State was the only school to offer him a scholarship and that was only after a friend passed his highlight tape along to the coaches.

"I didn't have a good season until my senior year so no one really knew about me," Legree said.

He intercepted 22 passes in four seasons at Appalachian State, and the Seahawks drafted him for his playmaking instincts. It will also allow some flexibility in the way Seattle uses Earl Thomas, last year's first-round pick.

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

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