Monday, May 19, 2008

Polar Opposites

by: Michael Steffes

There isn't much news coming out of Kirkland right now, but the big news so far this morning in the NFL is that the Bengals will be releasing MLB Odell Thurman today for missing VOLUNTARY workouts to help with his Grandmother's funeral. That is a story in itself, mostly again proving the Bengals are easily one of the most mismanaged franchises in professional sports. But I digress....

If you didn't already know, Odell Thurman was selected by the Bengals, who were in desperate need of a MLB (and will be again), with the 48th pick of the 2005 draft. Probably about 30 minutes before, the Seahawks had shipped off two 4th round picks along with their original second to move up three spots in front of the Bengals and take Lofa Tatupu. Knowing what we know, especially after this years draft, it is fair to assume that Tim Ruskell had some intelligence that said Tatupu might go. Even if he didn't, maybe he felt he couldn't get stuck with a second choice. Either way, the Seahawks have soared since Lofa took over the middle, the Bengals have fizzled.

To Continue...

Actually that is not entirely true. Odell Thurman showed almost as much promise in his rookie year as Lofa Tatupu. The Bengals won their division and played a home playoff game vs Pittsburgh. We know how that turned out, considering the Hawks saw Pittsburgh later in the same playoffs. But since then, Odell hasn't seen the field. He was suspended for 06' for violations in the league substance abuse program. It was extended another year when he was stopped for DUI. The same one where the camera in the police car caught Chris Henry vomiting out the back window. During that time, Lofa Tatupu has gone to three straight Pro Bowls, and the Hawks have built one of the most successful franchises in the league.

So what could have been? I don't think it is fair to say that switching two players would make that much difference, but it would have had an effect. First off, I don't think the Hawks would have taken Thurman, more likely Kirk Morrison who is also a pretty darn good player. But they wouldn't be where they are without Lofa, recent legal troubles aside.

Compare the two teams. Both have pretty darn good passing attacks. Both have run the football OK at times, but mostly inconsistently. The difference between sitting home every year and playing deep in January has been the defense. And the price for the key brick in that defense was two fourth rounders. Want to know who was taken?

The first pick was used to select Stephan Lafors, QB, Louisville. The Panthers traded the second pick to the Eagles who took T, Todd Herremans. The best players taken around those two picks were Kerry Rhodes, Brady Poppinga, and Trent Cole. All who also would have helped the Seahawks build a defense. But really nobody knows if they would have taken the leadership role from day one that Lofa embraced.

In the end, this may go down as Tim Ruskell's finest move. He made an eerily similar move this year, moving up from the back of the second to the front end, to make sure he go the guy he wanted to fill what has seemingly been a black hole on this team. Exactly the same reasoning when he moved up for Lofa. Hopefully we can look back and say it worked out just as well. That way, on draft day, when we give up picks to move forward, it will clue us in that another superstar is on the way. So far the Seahawks are one for one, we will know about number two by the end of the year.