Say what you want about the Seattle Seahawks, but they certainly aren't dull when drafting players.
Every year around this time, it seems the 'Hawks front office sets out to reshape the roster by taking a rather unconventional approach to the NFL draft.
At times I honestly don't understand what general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll are thinking, but based on their track record working together you always have to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Such thinking has been evident as experts began to hand out grades for this draft—most are taking caution and hedging their bets, lest they get egg on their faces once again.
By now I'd imagine you're probably tired of reading such phrases, "roll of the dice" (Sports Illustrated) and "if you include Percy Harvin" (Yahoo! Sports), when analyzing these picks. To date, my personal favorite has to be Peter Schrager at Fox Sports bluntly stating, "I'm done questioning John Schneider. Until he proves otherwise, he gets an A."
What no one wants to say is that these picks lack the "wow" factor of those that division rivals San Francisco and St. Louis made over the weekend.
Yet, after the smoke clears, does it really matter (especially with this team) who was drafted and in what order?
Six month from now, probably not.
With that in mind I figured rather than hand out arbitrary grades on what I think of these players today, wouldn't it be of greater value to predict their impact for this upcoming season instead?
While I would have never expected the team to use their first pick to select a running back or wait until Round 7 to draft a linebacker, there are a few gems in the mix that could help the 'Hawks in 2013.
So let's take a closer look and see how this rookie class can contribute right away.
Even with a few days to contemplate this pick, I still feel the addition of Christine Michael creates more questions than answers for the Seahawks.
ESPN NFC West blogger Mike Sando wondered: "Michael's addition in Seattle wouldn't appear to change much over the next year or two. I wonder what it says, if anything, about the team's faith in Lynch holding up through the remainder of his contract, which runs through 2015."
Fact is, All-Pro Marshawn Lynch has been working hard since coming to Seattle in 2010 and I too can understand Sando's concern.
In the same breath, how does second-year running back Robert Turbin factor in to the mix?
Wasn't he supposed to be the heir apparent, or is the team disappointed in him and his development?
Perhaps, or maybe I'm over-thinking the situation.
For now we simply need to wait and see how things play out. Ideally though Michael's impact for 2013 should be minimal assuming that Lynch turns in another "Beast Mode" season.
If anything should happen to Lynch, then we could see a lot more of Michael and Turbin with the hopes that one if not both could pick up the slack.
Honestly, I'm curious to see Michael in action during training camp and preseason, to see if he can push Turbin a bit.
Let's keep our fingers crossed that both show promise when given their chances, but at the same time aren't called upon enough to be considered essential cogs just yet.
I will be honest, when considering day two options at defensive tackle prior to the draft, Jordan Hill got lost in the mix given he seemed a bit undersized at 6'1" and barely 300 pounds.
On the bright side, unlike Christine Michael, the selection of Hill should help fill an immediate need by fitting in the 'Hawks rotation upfront as a 3-technique.
Whether he can make a serious contribution is a whole other question.
Pete Carroll believes there is potential, while explaining Hill is different and can help the pass rush (Seattlepi.com):
“He’s different from the guys we have,” Carroll said. “He’s got real nice quickness, he’s got the ability to get on the edge and get in the backfield and penetrate. He’s a really good effort guy, and we always like that — very active. … We need more activity inside to elevate our pass rush.”
Does that mean Hill will pile up tackles and sacks?
Probably not this year, yet I can see defensive coordinator Dan Quinn enjoying the flexibility of having him rotate as needed, especially with fellow draft pick Jesse Williams in the mix.
Of all the Seahawks selections this year, this one strikes me as having the greatest potential to provide immediate tangible results.
All winter I hoped the 'Hawks would draft a receiver with the size and capability to score in the red zone.
Perhaps Sidney Rice is two inches taller, but Chris Harper of Kansas State has a little more meat on his bones, which to me could make all the difference.
However, with the likes of Rice, Percy Harvin, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin in place at receiver, Harper probably won't catch a ton of passes from Russell Wilson in 2013.
Yet if he could make a good number of the catches he does make count for touchdowns, he could be 'Hawks offensive rookie of the year and a major find long term.
In the endless quest for defensive line help, you have to wonder how much the 'Hawks sweated the chance of missing out on a potential steal like Jesse Williams of Alabama after drafting Chris Harper.
Yes the team had already selected defensive tackle Jordan Hill in Round 3 and had an early pick in Round 5, but the fact that the 'Hawks still traded up to nab Williams, who many considered a potential day two pick, was certainly telling.
When you think about it though, the appeal is simple: Williams can stuff the run and Hill can rush the passer.
Essentially you add two rotation guys that can be deployed as needed while surrounded by a veteran cast that should help teach them the ropes.
Maybe neither comes up with a ton of tackles or sacks right away, but together they can negate the departures of veterans Alan Branch and Jason Jones for a much lower collective price this year and for several more to come.
By now you've probably heard about Tharold Simon for all the wrong reasons.
Honestly, who gets arrested and charged for "public intimidation, resisting arrest and unnecessary noise in his hometown" the night before the NFL draft? (ESPN)
The whole story sounds a bit overly dramatic, but when you consider that Simon also tested positive for synthetic marijuana along with sixth-round pick Spencer Ware in 2011 at LSU, it certainly makes you wonder if this is someone mature enough to handle his business as a pro.
Let's hope so, because I actually think Simon has a chance some day to become one of the better picks from this draft class.
At 6'2" and 200 pounds, the 'Hawks could potentially pair Simon opposite Richard Sherman in a few years if all goes to plan. However, in 2013 I'd expect him to come along slowly and hopefully not be pressed into action.
If Simon can show some progress in working to improve his skills and cleaning up his act, that would be a solid step in the right direction in my book.
It's from this point onward in the draft I feel the Seahawks are hoping to see what sticks from a mix of players they drafted.
For some time now I had hoped the 'Hawks would consider Rice University tight end Vance McDonald with a day two pick. Instead it turns out the 49ers wanted him, while the 'Hawks opted for his teammate.
Luke Willson fits the bill in terms of his size and ability, but I have my doubts.
What's particularly frustrating here is that the opportunity is very much there for Willson to make a name for himself this upcoming season along with a host of other names in the mix, including former basketball player Darren Fells.
With current starter Zach Miller getting older and carrying a heavy contract, I assumed the 'Hawks would find someone to pair opposite him this season and eventually groom to take his spot.
Maybe Willson is that guy, but unlike all of the other players on this list up to now, I had never heard of him until Saturday.
Given the 'Hawks' ability to find diamonds in the rough, I sure hope either Willson, Fells, Anthony McCoy or someone else emerges this season.
Unlike fellow LSU teammate Tharold Simon, I'm not sure I see a future for running back Spencer Ware in Seattle.
Scouting reports on Ware see him as a one-cut bulldozer that doesn't shy from contact who can also catch a pass or two thrown his way, which to be honest isn't a bad starting point.
However, if Ware can commit himself to the fullback position as a pro as Pete Carroll is hinting (Seattle Times), the chances of him sticking around past this summer may increase considerably.
Hopefully he can put his skills to use under the tutelage of Michael Robinson. Otherwise, his best chance of staying in Seattle this year is either on special teams or the practice squad.
Who are these guys?
When you look over the list of players the 'Hawks drafted in Round 7, you get the feeling the team is simply looking for spare parts.
Ryan Seymour, OG, Vanderbilt (via Buffalo)
Ty Powell, DE/OLB, Harding (via New Orleans)
Jared Smith, OG, New Hampshire (conditional pick)
Michael Bowie, OT, Northeastern State (conditional pick)
Maybe one of the three offensive linemen sticks, but if asked to wager who has the best chance of getting a job, I'd put my money on Ty Powell.
Of all the positions I figured the 'Hawks would draft, I would have never guessed the team would take two running backs before selecting a linebacker. (Perhaps both Malcolm Smith and Korey Toomer show up at camp this summer with a little more bounce in their step?)
All told this rookie class isn't quite what I expected, which at the same time is exactly what I should have expected.
Will any of these players have any meaningful impact in 2013?
Here's three categories to break it down.
1. Potential starters: Jordan Hill, Jesse Williams and Chris Harper
My vote for today is that Chris Harper on offense has the best chance of becoming a household name if he can score touchdowns. On defense, the tag-team duo of Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams could serve a valuable role along the line.
2. Wait till next year: Christine Michael and Tharold Simon
Beyond the potential starters, I think (more like hope) Christine Michael and Tharold Simon will get their chances to play a little, but hopefully not be called upon to save the day. Ideally they will be groomed this year to take on more responsibility next year.
3. Happy to be here: Luke Willson, Spencer Ware and Ty Powell
As for the rest of the batch, I could see one or two players making either the final or practice squad with my best guesses being Luke Willson, Spencer Ware and Ty Powell.
Let's also not discount the undrafted free agents the team will bring in to compete as well with opportunities likely available along the offensive line and at linebacker. Beyond those spots, I'd imagine it will be tough to make this roster.
Then again you never know, but this year when Pete Carroll tells us in June that one of these rookies has a chance to take on a starting role I will do my best to not make the same mistake I did last year in thinking the team's third-round pick was merely a distraction waiting to happen.