16 Greatest Undrafted Seattle Seahawks in Franchise History

Darin PikeContributor IMay 21, 2012

16 Greatest Undrafted Seattle Seahawks in Franchise History

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    The Seattle Seahawks 2012 rookie mini-camp is in the books. While most of the talk was about Bruce Irvin, Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner, there are several undrafted players that will look to earn a spot on the final 53-man roster.

    While it is a longshot, the Seahawks have found great success with undrafted players over the course of the franchise. 

    Undrafted players have actually been their most productive avenue for finding quarterbacks. This could give 2011's Josh Portis a bit of hope.

    There are other players from last season that could make a mark in the NFL. Ricardo Lockette, Pierre Allen, Jeron Johnson and Ron Parker all have an opportunity in 2012 to find additional playing time.

    However, the following slides will look at players that have already made a mark in the NFL.

2012 Undrafted Free Agents

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    There are several players that will be working to be the next undrafted player to make an impact on the Seahawks roster. Making the 2012 squad will be more difficult than in years past because the overall talent pool is better than in prior seasons.

    The following players signed free agent contracts with Seattle following the 2012 NFL Draft:

    Phil Bates, QB, Ohio
    London Durham, CB McNeese State (released on May 15)
    Cooper Helfet, TE, Duke
    Rishaw Johnson, WR, California (Pa.)
    Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington
    Donny Lisowski, CB, Montana
    Sean McGrath, TE, Henderson State
    Jon Opperud, OT, Montana (released on May 15)
    Deshawn Shead, SS, Portland State
    Monte Taylor, DL, Cincinnati
    Lavasier Tuinei, WR, Oregon
    Carson Wiggs, K, Purdue

Undrafted Players Joining the Seahawks Later in Their Careers

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    There are several players that entered the NFL after being bypassed in the draft and found themselves being signed by the Seahawks later in their careers. 

    Two of the best undrafted players ever were Hall of Fame members John Randle (1990) and Warren Moon (1978).

    Both were productive in their time in Seattle, limited as it may have been.

    Moon spent two seasons with the Seahawks, including a Pro Bowl season in 1997. He threw for 3,678 yards and 25 touchdowns.

    Randle signed with Seattle for the 2001 season, planning to play for two seasons and then retire. He stayed for a third at the urging of coach Mike Holmgren.

    Randle made one Pro Bowl and two playoff appearances while with the Seahawks. 

    Robbie Tobeck had a good run in Seattle. He joined the team after spending six seasons playing for the Atlanta Falcons. He was a Pro Bowl center in 2005, but an injury midway through ended his career.

    Rick Tuten is perhaps the best punter in Seahawks history. He spent the first two years of his career elsewhere before joining the Seahawks during the 1991 season. He had a career-high with 108 punts in 1992 and averaged 43.8 yards per punt while playing for the Seahawks.

    Tuten went to the Pro Bowl in 1994.

Bryan Millard, OG, Texas: 1983

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    Bryan Millard went undrafted in the 1983 NFL Draft. However, the New Jersey Generals of the USFL took him in their draft to block for Hershel Walker. 

    Milard was a strong performer in the USFL and moved to the NFL to join the Seahawks in 1984. He was a fixture at right guard after a short stint at left tackle.

    Millard was widely underrated as a blocker, but helped Curt Warner post some impressive rushing performances and helped the Seahawks reach the playoffs in 1987 and 1988.

David Hawthorne, LB, TCU: 2008

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    David Hawthorne signed with the Seahawks after going undrafted in 2008. He quickly made a name for himself with his teammates. 

    The player he was backing up, Lofa Tatupu, commented how Hawthorne was always in the middle of the action and heating things up. The nickname of "Heater" was established.

    Hawthorne saw significant playing time with Seattle in 2009, replacing an injured Tatupu. He recorded 117 tackles that season, the first of three consecutive seasons where he led the team in tackles.

    While he did a solid job of holding down the middle of the Seahawks defense, Pete Carroll was looking to get faster at the position. They opted to let him leave via free agency.

Jordan Babineaux, DB, Southern Arkansas: 2004

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    Jordan Babineaux certainly had a flair for the dramatic in his time playing for the Seahawks.

    His proclivity to step up at crucial moments earned him the nickname "Big Play Babs."

    A few of his highlights include his diving tackle on Tony Romo in the 2007 playoffs following Romo's botched hold on a field goal attempt. He also stymied the Cowboys during the 2005 season, intercepting a Drew Bledsoe pass and putting the Seahawks into position to hit a game-winning field goal.

    Seattle was in difficult circumstances in the fourth quarter of a 2008 Wild Card playoff game against the Washington Redskins. They responded, though, and Babineaux's pick-six was the icing on a 35-14 win.

Doug Baldwin, WR, Stanford: 2011

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    It is still too early to accurately place Doug Baldwin on this list, but things look promising so far. He was able to overtake 2010 second-round pick Golden Tate on the depth chart and hold down the slot receiver role.

    Baldwin led the team in receptions and yards last season, marking the first time an undrafted rookie held that honor in the Super Bowl era.

    However, there was a single catch that helped spur Baldwin.

    The Seahawks made a strong effort to sign Baldwin, offering him $17,500 of the $75,000 allotted for signing bonuses for undrafted free agents. Seattle was also the first team to call Baldwin, luring him away from the Bay Area and his former coach that had taken over the helm for the San Francisco 49ers.

    Baldwin takes a little extra motivation to the field to remind Jim Harbaugh why the 49ers should have used a draft pick on the former Stanford receiver...or at least should have called him sooner during free agency.

    During the Week 1 matchup in 2011 Baldwin recorded a 55-yard touchdown reception in San Francisco while gaining 83 yards on four catches. He added a second touchdown against the 49ers in Week 16.

Jon Kitna, QB, Central Washington University: 1996

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    The Seattle Seahawks received more production from the undrafted Jon Kitna than all of their drafted quarterbacks combined. 

    In 1999, Kitna's third season with the Seahawks, he led the team to a 9-7 record and an AFC West Championship. He moved on to play for the Cincinnati Bengals following the 2000 season when he and Brock Huard shared starting quarterback duties.

Norm Johnson, K, UCLA: 1982

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    Some will argue that kickers don't belong on this list, as it isn't all that uncommon for successful kickers to be undrafted.

    However, Johnson is perhaps the best kicker in franchise history.

    Johnson was a Pro Bowl nominee and was named an All-Pro in 1984, his third season in the NFL. He was so consistent that he earned the nickname "Mr. Automatic" in Seattle.

Joe Nash, DT, Boston College: 1982

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    Joe Nash went undrafted in 1982, and the Seahawks were happy—and fortunate—to bring him aboard. He played with the club for 15 seasons and set a team record by playing in 218 games.

    Nash recorded 47.5 sacks during his tenure and represented the Seahawks in the 1984 Pro Bowl.

Jim Zorn, QB, Cal Poly Pomona: 1976

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    It is hard to think of Jim Zorn without tying in his favorite target, Steve Largent. They were the first two players inducted into the team's Ring of Honor, with Largent in 1989 and Zorn in 1991.

    While perhaps not the most accomplished passer, Zorn gave the team something they needed more. He was an accomplished scrambler, making an expansion team fun and exciting to watch. His efforts led to him being named the 1976 NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year. 

    Zorn threw more interceptions than touchdowns during his career, and his 77.3 passer rating was far from good. But, he did throw for 3,000 yards in three consecutive seasons and helped the Seahawks grow as a franchise.

Rufus Porter, LB, Southern University: 1988

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    Rufus Porter was an exciting linebacker who quickly became a fan favorite in the Kingdome. He made the Pro Bowl in his first two seasons and was an All Pro following his second season with the Seahawks.

    Porter used his speed and instincts to take down ball carriers and strike fear in opposing quarterbacks. He is seventh on the team's list of sack leaders.

Eugene Robinson, DB, Colgate: 1985

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    Eugene Robinson spent 11 seasons playing free safety for the Seahawks. He was a threat to intercept passes and punish receivers on every play.

    His efforts led to Pro Bowl selections in 1992 and 1993 while with the Seahawks, being named an All Pro in 1993.

    Robinson finished his career with 57 interceptions and over 1,400 tackles. He won a Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers two seasons after leaving Seattle.

Mack Strong, FB, Georgia: 1993

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    Speaking of undrafted free agents that spent their entire 15-year career playing for the Seahawks...

    Mack Strong made a name for himself opening running lanes for Chris Warren, Ricky Watters and Shaun Alexander. He was a Pro Bowl representative in 2005 and 2006, but did not play in the 2005 game given his preoccupation with Super Bowl XL.

    His consolation prize was being named an AP All-Pro for the only time in his career. He was a bruising blocker and a critical part of the Seahawks ground attack.

    A herniated disc in his neck ended his career in 2007.

Dave Krieg, QB, Milton College: 1980

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    As good as some of the prior players were, there was really no contest for the top spot on this list. 

    Dave Krieg was an underdog his entire career but didn't let that stand in his way of becoming one of the top two quarterbacks in the Seahawks history.

    He played at the now-defunct small, private Milton College in the now-obsolete NAIA. He started out as the seventh-string quarterback and worked his way up the food chain.

    In the fourth game of his freshman season he entered the game as an injury replacement. He only threw four passes in that game, but three of them went for a touchdown. 

    Krieg remained in the starting lineup for the balance of his college career.

    His trek in the NFL was similar, earning the third quarterback slot on the 1980 roster. He worked up to second-string in 1981 and took over for an injured Jim Zorn late in the season. The two would flip-flop in the starting role the following two seasons.

    Krieg took hold of the starting job in 1984 after the Seahawks were unable to lure Warren Moon back to Seattle. He took the team to the AFC Championship game and kept hold of the position until Ken Behring let him leave as a free agent in an apparent bid to drive the team into the ground so he could drive them to Los Angeles.

    Krieg holds several Seahawks records, including the following notable marks.

    • Most career touchdown passes: 195
    • Most games with 400 or more yards passing: Four
    • Most games with five or more touchdown passes: Five (Also an NFL record)
    • Most games with four or more touchdown passes: Seven
    • Single season record for pass attempts: 532 in 1985
    • Single season record for highest completion percentage: 65.61 in 1991
    • Single season record for highest average gain: 8.8 in 1983
    • Single season record for touchdown passes: 32 in 1984
    • Single season record for games with 4 or more touchdown passes: Three in 1985