Finding one of the principle reasons why the Seattle Seahawks improved from seven wins in 2011 to 11 and a playoff win this season is far from a difficult task.
The answer is actually pretty simple.
Back in April, Seahawks general manager John Schneider hit about as many home runs in the 2012 NFL draft as one decision-maker could possibly be asked to hit in one draft.
A revelation at quarterback who was too short. The speed rusher no one wanted. The most impactful rookie linebacker in the class. A complementary running back who could now start in several NFL cities. Even the bottom of the draft had contributors.
The result was a team that needed to work through the up-and-downs of the early season before transforming into arguably the NFL's most dangerous team in the 2012-13 playoffs.
Below, we run down just how the Seahawks won the 2012 NFL draft.
DE Bruce Irvin, West Virginia
Round 1, Pick 15
The worries before the draft were widespread. Irvin is too small. He can't play every down. There's off-the-field concerns. Many predicted he'd fall way down in the 2012 draft.
Despite all the noise, the Seahawks never wavered and took him at No. 15. A situational pass-rusher in his rookie season, Irvin has eight sacks—tops amongst rookies in 2012. He's been a big hit.
LB Bobby Wagner, Utah State
Round 2, Pick 47
Quite possibly no pick on the defensive side of the ball received as much value in return as Seattle's selection of Wagner at No. 47. Criticized by some, the pick has been a smashing success for both sides.
Wagner has 140 combined tackles, two sacks, four passes defensed and three interceptions during his rookie season. He's now a team leader inside and the front-runner to be the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012.
QB Russell Wilson, Wisconsin
Round 3, Pick 75
The entire fate of the Seahawks franchise swung on the selection of Wilson. Labeled as too short to be an NFL quarterback, Wilson has proved every single doubter wrong in 2012.
His 26 touchdown passes tied Peyton Manning's rookie record, and he did it while throwing just 10 interceptions. Wilson also added 489 yards and four rushing touchdowns, bringing his overall season totals to 3,607 yards and 30 touchdowns. In this writer's opinion, Wilson should be the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year.
RB Robert Turbin, Utah State
Round 4, Pick 106
Overlooked by the three studs drafted ahead of him, Turbin has been a battering ram of a backup for Marshawn Lynch. Over 80 carries and 19 catches, Turbin amassed 535 total yards—good for over five yards per touch. The 5'10", 225-pounder is a load for defenses worn down from dealing with Lynch. In other words, he's the perfect complement.
DT Jaye Howard, Florida
Round 4, Pick 114
Howard appeared in just two games in 2012, but he has potential down the road. If Jason Jones isn't retained for 2013, Howard should have a bigger role.
LB Korey Toomer, Idaho
Round 5, Pick 154
Toomer was among the Seahawks' final cuts, but he was signed back to the practice squad. He's currently on the practice squad/injured list. He's an ultra-athletic linebacker who needs time to develop.
CB Jeremy Lane, Northwestern St.
Round 6, Pick 172
Lane was never overwhelmed while filling in as a starter at cornerback for Brandon Browner (suspended) late this season. In fact, Seattle was 3-0 in games he started this season. Most defenses would struggle with a sixth-round rookie starting at one cornerback spot. Lane held his own.
DB Winston Guy, Kentucky
Round 6, Pick 181
Guy played in eight snaps during the season opener, but he hasn't been on the field since. The health of two Pro-Bowl safeties—Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas—had a lot to do with that fact.
OL J.R. Sweezy, N.C. State
Round 6, Pick 225
Picked as a defensive lineman from N.C. State, Sweezy transitioned to the offensive line in training camp and earned a spot on the team. 17 games into his rookie season, and he's played almost 400 snaps. While he struggled at right guard early on, Sweezy has played better over his last three starts.
DE Greg Scruggs, Louisville
Round 7, Pick 232
Rarely do seventh-round picks even make an NFL team, but Scruggs has contributed on a rotation basis on a good Seahawks defensive line. He has two sacks and a handful of hurries over roughly 200 defensive snaps.