With the 25th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks selected James Carpenter, a 6'4" 321-pound tackle from Alabama. He is expected to take the place at right tackle for Sean Locklear, who is a free agent.
I have to wonder about the people who were suddenly so offended that the team didn’t take offensive lineman Gabe Carimi from Wisconsin. Carimi was projected be drafted in the last third of the first round, while most had Carpenter falling to the second round.
We need to remind ourselves that rankings by draft experts mean very little. If all projections panned out, Rick Mirer would be waiting to be inducted into the Hall of Fame while Ben Obomanu fights for a starting job with the Edmonton Eskimos in the CFL alongside Taco Wallace.
In response to hearing Carpenter’s name announced, many Seahawks fans on Twitter were reacting by simply asking, “Who?” To them I ask, “Would you have recognized any other lineman’s name before today?” I couldn’t name another offensive lineman in the entire draft, and I probably wouldn’t even know the names of the backup lineman on the Seahawks if it weren’t for so many injuries.
For fans that have been frustrated by injuries over the past couple years, the nice thing about Carpenter is that he has started 27 straight games in his two years starting at left tackle for the Crimson Tide. Hopefully that continues and Seattle can start to build a line with a consistent set of starters.
I see two positives to this pick: he sounds like a guy who will fill in immediately as right tackle and, as a guy who played left tackle, could potentially shift over if Russell Okung’s injuries continue to hamper him.
I understand Carimi was rated much higher, but I’m not at all disturbed by the fact they took a slightly-lower rated SEC lineman over one from the Big Ten. But, Mississippi State tackle Derek Sherrod was also on the board at the time and projected by some draft experts to go to the Seahawks or in that vicinity.
In terms of character and background, I would have much preferred to see them pick Sherrod. However, after looking into some of the scouting reports, it looks as though Carpenter is considered to be a better run blocker, which may have been a deciding factor.
Reports were suggesting that Seattle was desperately trying to trade down out of that position, so it appeared they knew Carpenter could be picked up at some point in the second round. Without a willing trade partner, they stuck with the guy they were apparently targeting.
The one team that may have had an interest in Seattle’s 25th pick was New Orleans. The Saints ultimately traded into the 28th pick by sending their first-round pick in 2012 to the Patriots. New England, already having a pick in the first round as well as a considerably more well-rounded team, could afford to make that move. If the Saints were looking to trade with Seattle, General Manager John Schneider would have been asking for compensation in this year’s draft.
Offensive linemen are never considered to be sexy draft picks. It’s tough to get excited about a player on offense that doesn’t score. We all could expect the team wouldn’t achieve the same acclaim as last year when they had two top picks in the first round, and since Carpenter will be considered a reach as a first-round pick, Seattle certainly won’t be graded as high this year.
But those who watched last year’s draft remember that many of the big moves and great value in the selections the team made came in the latter selections of the draft. I know I’ll be watching in anticipation over the next couple days to see what happens, because it’s going to be at least three more months before we start getting excited about football again.
Brandan Schulze is a Navy veteran and member of the military chapter of the Sea Hawkers, the official booster club for the Seattle Seahawks.
For more information on the chapter, visit www.militaryseahawkers.com. Membership is free for all military service members and veterans.