Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Re-evaluating the 2008 Draft

By Chris Sullivan

Not to be a negative nelly here, but I remember around this time last year we were all pretty excited about the draft. I think we had right to be, mind you, but I thought it might be worth looking back at last year's the draft class and giving it a year-one rating. This is, of course, not in any way meant to be a long-term rating. While Lo Jack was a disappointment, for example, I think in the medium- and long-term that he will likely end up being one of the team's best draft picks in years.

1st Round - Lawrence Jackson
Grade: C

Like I said, I think LoJack will have a much better sophomore campaign than he did in his rookie year. Defensive end and wide receiver appear to me to have the least likely amount of immediate success. Jackson's stats were not that much worse than Chris Long's, really (especially considering the respective number of snaps the two players got), but his presence was not even close. LoJack needs to make some big improvements this year, and I believe he will. Still, as an acceptable starter who did not do a whole lot to change games in either a positive or a negative way, I consider him average, or a "C."

2nd Round - John Carlson
Grade: A

A nearly unqualified success, Carlson came in and did nothing but produce. Without a doubt, he was the biggest and best surprise of an otherwise awful season. Look for Carlson's numbers to decline a bit this year with some better and healthier wide recievers in the mix, but don't expect him to go away. Carlson is sufficient as a blocker and excellent as a receiving tight end; he gets open on most plays and his hands are like glue.

4th Round - Red Bryant
Grade: D

Again, this is for last year only. I'm a big fan of Red Bryant -- in fact, he was actually my favorite pick of the 2008 draft. Still, he was injured and played very little, and when he did play his impact was minimal. I think the Seahawks are looking at him predominantly as a project to learn behind Mebane and to use in a rotational role when he's ready. I don't necessarily feel that he will be ready this year, but we'll learn a lot more when training camp opens in July.

5th Round - Owen Schmitt
Grade: B

Schmitt didn't see a lot of playing time last year, but he made the most of his opportunities when he did. Beyond that, he proved himself enough in practice and game situations to let the coaches feel secure with him so they would not have to break the bank by re-signing "The Weave." Schmitt is our presumptive starter in 2009. He's a good pickup who should provide very good value in 2009 as a key blocker in running situations.

6th Round - Tyler Schmitt
Grade: F

Schmitt didn't even play, as he had a back injury that he failed to disclose to the team. Sorry Tyler, I've still got high hopes for you to be the solution we've been looking for at long snapper, but in hindsight this pick should have been used to get more depth in positions like WR or the offensive line.

7th Round - Brandon Coutu
Grade: F

Coutu is Ruskell's guy, but he wasn't the Seahawks' guy last year. He lost the starting job to a better kicker and was not activated for a single game. I understand the logic of drafting a kicker in the 7th and liking him, but Coutu will again have to earn the job this year (presumably), and if he fails to do so this will be a perfectly wasted pick. Much more importantly though, Coutu's spot on the roster was very costly last year throughout our massive injury situation.

7th Round - Justin Forsett
Grade: C+

While I believe Forsett was good value in the 7th, again it was a bit of a luxury pick this late in the draft. A single wide reciever in the 7th could likely have prevented us from losing our 5th in the 2009 draft for Keary Colbert. Let that simmer. Forsett came on and returned kicks, but he didn't do a particularly good job and never provided the spark we wanted from him. Overall, for upside potential, I'll settle on a C+. He sure got us excited in the preseason, huh?

In looking back, all I see is a GM who saw a good team in need of a few pieces. In reality, this was a team who would need a lot more depth along the offensive line (0 players drafted), the WR corps (0 players drafted) and the secondary (0 players drafted). I believe that Ruskell had a much better draft in 2009 with a much more realistic view of what our needs and wants are.