Grading Seahawks' Rookies After the First 2 Weeks of 2012 Season
The Seattle Seahawks received harsh criticism following their 2012 draft. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. gave the Seahawks a C- grade, tied for the lowest grade in the NFL this year.
Although we’re only two weeks into the regular season, I think it’s safe to say the Seahawks draft class has exceeded expectations.
First, a quick recap of the Seahawks 2012 draft, in order:
Round 1: Bruce Irvin, DE, West Virginia
Round 2: Bobby Wagner, OLB, Utah State
Round 3: Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin
Round 4: Robert Turbin, RB, Utah State; Jaye Howard, DT, Florida
Round 5: Korey Toomer, ILB, Idaho
Round 6: Jeremy Lane, CB, Northwestern State; Winston Guy, S, Kentucky
Round 7: J.R. Sweezy, RG, N.C. State; Greg Scruggs, DE, Louisville
Of the Seahawks’ 10 draft selections, only fifth-round pick Korey Toomer failed to make the 53 man roster. An obvious choice to receive an F, Toomer has been excluded from the rankings as he was released from the practice squad just last week.
Lets take a look at how the remaining Seahawks' draft class has fared thus far, from highest to lowest grades.
Stats: 304 Yards, 2 TD’s, 81.1 Quarterback Rating
The stats only tell a small part of the story here.
The star of the preseason, third-round pick Russell Wilson has played exceptionally well under the circumstances. In Week 1 at Arizona, Wilson overcame a poor start, in which he was constantly under duress against one of the league’s best defenses, to put his team in position to win the game late in the fourth quarter.
He didn’t come away with the victory, but Wilson proved to us that he belongs as the starting quarterback of the Seahawks.
In the Week 2 matchup with the Cowboys, Wilson once again looked shaky to start, missing a wide open pass to TE Evan Moore, and throwing what should have been an interception in the red zone (the defender dropped the ball). This time, however, Wilson rebounded quickly and finished the game completing 15-of-20 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown.
In securing his first NFL victory, Wilson led the offense on two touchdown drives of 88 or more yards, which hadn’t been accomplished by the Seahawks in nearly a decade.
Against all odds, Wilson’s resolve never seems to waver. He’s a natural leader that handles adversity like a 10-year veteran. Pete Carroll sums it up best when describing Wilson’s poise and leadership: "He’s been rock-solid.”
Not something you’d expect from a rookie third-round quarterback.
Stats: 8 tackles
Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner made a quick impression with the Seahawks this preseason.
So well, in fact, that after only two preseason games, the organization felt secure enough to trade away free-agent acquisition Barrett Rudd, despite not having great depth at the position.
Initially projected as an outside linebacker, Wagner made a seemingly quick and smooth transition en route to becoming the Seahawks starting middle linebacker, impressing more than just his coaches. One such person is Seahawks Pro Bowl fullback Michael Robinson, who had this to say about Wagner:
Very explosive. He is a guy that can run sideline to sideline. He's learning. He's still a young guy learning how to get off blocks in the National Football League. But he is going to be another special player one day. I call him a baby Patrick Willis because I hadn't seen a linebacker move like that since Pat.
Considering Robinson spent three years playing with Willis in San Francisco, I’d say his words carry a lot of weight.
Wagner has a long way to go before he could even be considered in the same tier as Willis, but he clearly has the athletic ability to get there.
Through two games, Wagner has registered just 8 tackles, but, on a defense that swarms to the ball the way these guys do, tackles aren’t easy to come by.
Stats: 20 yards rushing, 26 yards receiving
Possessing the rare combination of size, speed and hands, fourth-rounder Robert Turbin looks to be another great value-pick by the Seahawks' front office.
After finishing a successful preseason—rushing 38 times for 165 yards (4.3 avg.) and a touchdown—it has been a little disappointing not seeing Turbin on the field more during the regular season. Through two games, Turbin has carried the ball only 7 times for 20 yards, while adding 3 catches for 26 yards.
However, Turbin’s lack of playing time isn’t related to his performance, it’s just that he’s stuck behind work-horse Marshawn Lynch, who trails only Arian Foster in rushing attempts this season.
Given the brutal nature of Lynch’s running style, I’d expect to see a steady increase in the average number of touches Turbin receives going forward. I just don’t see Lynch being able to make it through a full season carrying the ball 25 times per game.
Overall, Turbin gets a high grade for solid performances in limited action.
The unexpected rise of J.R. Sweezy from college defensive tackle to starting NFL right guard was one of the more remarkable storylines for the Seahawks in the past few weeks.
Unfortunately for Sweezy and the Seahawks, the story didn't have a happy-ending in Week 1.
In Sweezy's first game, the unfortunate rookie was given a not-so-friendly welcome to the NFL by Pro Bowl defensive lineman Darnell Docket. To put it nicely, Docket abused Sweezy throughout the game.
The performance was so bad, in fact, Carroll almost immediately made the announcement that Sweezy would be replaced by RG John Moffitt in the next game.
It didn't take long for Sweezy to get a chance at redemption, however, as Moffitt was forced out of the Cowboys game with an undisclosed injury.
The results were immediate and impactful for the Seahawks ground game.
In his place, Sweezy helped solidify an offensive line that had previously been struggling to open lanes. The Seahawks finished with 182 yards rushing, led by Marshawn Lynch's 122.
I think we've only just scratched the surface with Sweezy, who still has a long way to go in order to become one of the league's premier guards.
But given that Sweezy was only a seventh-round selection, who played only defense in high school and college, I'd say a B grade is surely warranted.
Stats: 1 tackle, 0.5 sacks
The Seattle Seahawks were bashed for selecting DE Bruce Irvin with the 15th overall pick in the draft. Kiper called the pick “mind-boggling,” which pretty much sums up how the majority of experts felt about it.
Irvin’s potential and play-making abilities were never questioned. Rather, he was considered to be too raw to have an immediate impact—a "one-trick pony" that would only be called on in pass-rushing situations.
To be fair, Irvin hasn’t done a whole lot to prove the experts wrong here. In fact, for the most part, they’ve been dead-on in their analysis.
Irvin has seen the bulk of his playing time in obvious passing situations and on special teams. The results have been mixed, with Irvin registering just half a sack, and numerous pressures in his first two games.
I’ve graded Irvin with a C based on his inconsistent play, not due to a lack of sacks or quarterback hits.
It seems that for every time he’s generated a good, solid pass rush, there are at least two times that he’s been completely swallowed up by his blocker or just simply non-existent.
And that's exactly what he looked like throughout the preseason. I was highly critical of Irvin's performance through his first two preseason games as he looked confused and tentative on his decision making.
I might be grading Irvin a little too harshly here, but as a first-round pick on an elite defense, I'm demanding immediate results—this isn't a rebuilding year.
The good news is that Irvin is showing obvious signs of improvement, progressing nicely in each game from his first two preseason disappointments.
The outlook is bright for Irvin, but for now he’s just playing average on an above-average team, earning him a C grade.
It’s probably too early to give a failing grade for late round-picks who haven’t seen much playing time. But if you don’t play, you don't get a passing grade, regardless of what you did in preseason.
That’s the case for rookies Jaye Howard, Jeremy Lane, Winston Guy and Gregg Scruggs.
All have missed significant time due to injuries, or just haven’t been able to get on the field enough to do anything noticeable.