Seahawks still have high hopes for 2013 draft class
Seahawks drafted players in 2013 with an eye to the future and could be in a similar situation at this spring’s draft.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Reviewing Seahawks’ 2013 draft
RB Christine Michael, second round: Michael was an exhibition-season standout, but active for just seven games during the regular season with the more-experienced Robert Turbin serving as the backup to Marshawn Lynch.
DT Jordan Hill, third round: The Penn State player had good moments early but was sidelined for long stretches by two biceps injuries. But with Seattle potentially losing DL to free agency, he could be in line for more time in 2014.
WR Chris Harper, fourth round: Harper, who played at Kansas State, was released before the season and signed with San Francisco, then cut and signed by the Packers.
DT Jesse Williams, fifth round: Former Alabama star had knee surgery before the season. Said to have recovered well, though, and could be a factor in 2014.
CB Tharold Simon, fifth round: Like Williams, didn’t play this year while battling foot/toe issues. Recently had another surgery, but hope is he’ll be ready for camp.
TE Luke Willson, fifth round: Willson started three games and played in all 16 as a backup to Zach Miller, and had 20 catches for 272 yards.
RB Spencer Ware, sixth round: The former LSU star played in the first two games before landing on injured reserve with an ankle injury.
G Ryan Seymour, seventh round: On the practice squad much of the season before being signed to the 49ers’ active roster.
LB Ty Powell, seventh round: Began the year on the practice squad. After being released, he was signed to the Giants’ practice squad before being signed to Buffalo’s active roster.
G/C Jared Smith, seventh round: Began the year on Seattle’s practice squad before being placed on injured reserve.
G/OT Michael Bowie, seventh round: Bowie quickly emerged, and due in large part to injuries, ended up playing more than any other rookie, making eight regular-season starts and another in the playoffs.
With an average age of 26.4, the Seahawks were the youngest team to win a Super Bowl.
In something that might seem counterintuitive, though, the Seahawks also played the members of their 2013 draft class less than all but one other team, Miami.
Seattle’s drafted rookies, according to a breakdown from The Palm Beach Post, played just 1,052 snaps during the season (Miami was last at 866, the New York Jets first at 3,810).
Just one drafted rookie played in the Super Bowl — backup tight end Luke Willson, on the field for just 13 snaps (undrafted free-agent offensive tackle Alvin Bailey also played).
The lack of immediate production from Seattle’s 2013 draftees, though, hardly marks that class as a failure in the eyes of Seahawks general manager John Schneider and draft analysts.
Instead, Seattle’s 2013 draft was a mix of two objectives — a packaging of two picks (the first and a seventh-rounder) for receiver Percy Harvin to fill an immediate need; and a lot of selections aimed at the future.
And with Seattle in a position to retain the bulk of its players, the Seahawks could take a similar approach in the 2014 NFL draft, which is May 8-10. The draft begins to come to the forefront this week as team scouts and executives meet in Indianapolis for the annual NFL combine.
“I think this year’s draft was a little bit more toward 2014 than it was 2013,’’ Schneider said in January of the 2013 draft class.
“… I guess the way I view it is it’s more about looking toward next year with these guys, and I think they’d all tell you they were extremely excited about next year.”
Rob Rang, a draft analyst for the SportsXchange and CBSSports.com, says the Seahawks and 49ers last year “each seemed to recognize that they had two of the most talented rosters and also had a number of picks, so they were willing to take players that basically could sit and have almost like a redshirt year.’’
Seattle, in fact, had 11 picks in 2013 despite trading two for Harvin (a trade that also sent Seattle’s 2014 third-rounder to Minnesota).
Only five played for the Seahawks in 2013, with two starting games — Willson and guard/tackle Michael Bowie, whose eight starts and 560 snaps were the most for any Seahawks rookie.
Running backs Christine Michael and Spencer Ware and defensive tackle Jordan Hill all saw limited action, the latter two also sidelined for long stretches with injuries (Ware played only the first two games before landing on injured reserve).
Two other draftees, fifth-round defensive tackle Jesse Williams and fifth-round cornerback Tharold Simon, each missed the entire season with injuries that dated to their college years. Williams had knee surgery before the season and should be back for offseason workouts. Simon has had two foot/toe injuries, and his return might be further off, coach Pete Carroll said earlier this month.
All, though, remain potentially prominent in the team’s future.
The team had enough confidence in Bowie to start him at guard in the playoff win over the Saints, and with right tackle Breno Giacomini and guard/tackle Paul McQuistan each free agents, the team could peg him for a full-time starting role in 2014.
The Seahawks could also decide to cut Zach Miller, saving them $5 million from the salary cap, potentially thrusting Willson into a bigger role.
Michael looms large in the tailback future, and should be better-positioned to battle Robert Turbin for the backup spot to Marshawn Lynch next season. Hill and Williams each could factor in soon on a defensive line that will inevitably undergo change in 2014, and Simon also could provide an option at a cornerback spot where Walter Thurmond is a free agent.
Asked if he still had high hopes for the draft, Schneider answered definitively.
“Yeah, absolutely,’’ he said. “Like every draft, you look back and wish you would have done some things differently and you beat yourself up. But, as of right now, there’s not too much of that going on.’’
The Seahawks are scheduled to have seven picks in the 2014 draft — all of their own (which will be the 32nd in each of the seven rounds) except the third-rounder dealt for Harvin, and an extra fifth-rounder from Oakland for Matt Flynn.
“I don’t feel like they’ll feel like they have to address one specific position,’’ Rang said. “They can kind of take the draft as it comes.’’
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699