Saturday, April 25, 2009

What Day One Was All About

by: Michael Steffes

As we conclude the picks for day one of the 2009 NFL Draft, I think the Seahawks had both a strong day and sent a strong message. The first half of the day was highlighted by using the #4 pick on Aaron Curry, an impact linebacker who should start right away. The second half of the day was fueled by a series of moves that ended with the Seahawks selecting borderline first round prospect Max Unger from Oregon.

What does all this tell the current Hawk players and the rest of the NFL? It shows those paying attention that the Seahawks believe they can win now. They made moves today not like a 4-12 franchise, but more like the perennial division champ they were until last year.

Let's look at this in more detail. First, the team could have traded back in the first, something that many teams wanted to do. However, the Hawks resisted. When Aaron Curry fell to four, they saw one of the few players at the top of the draft who could step in and play well from day one. You can put him at the top of the list for defensive rookie of the year in my opinion. The defense got better today, and it needed to.

As for the other side of the ball, not taking Sanchez was probably the biggest move. It is a vote of confidence in Matt Hasselbeck, and more importantly it sends the same message: we want to win in 2009. Hasselbeck is the key to that, and the Hawks made a great move in getting him some interior line help. Unger has been a four year starter in a similar system to what the Hawks will be running. If injuries hamper any of the favorites to start inside -- Wahle, Spencer, or Sims -- then Unger can fill in. Most importantly, he can do it at any spot. He could have been a first round pick, and simply got overlooked until the Hawks jumped back into the second.

The reason the Hawks had to jump back in was my favorite move of the day. The Hawks are playing to win now, but that doesn't mean they can't prepare for a less rosy outlook. By getting what I feel will be a pick in the 10-15 range next year to go along with their own, the Hawks now find themselves in a great position to replace some aging vets if they fail to bounce back from injury. Guys like Hasselbeck, Walter Jones, and Patrick Kerney could all have to be replaced next offseason. If they do, the Hawks will have the picks to do it. And really, it comes at the expense of our middle round picks this year. It almost seems too good to be true. It is the type of move I have watched teams like the Patriots pull off for years and felt envious. To me, Ruskell has taken lemons (a so-so draft class) and made lemonade. I hate that expression, but it is true in this case. Just look at the bounty.

In my mind, and according to Steve Young too, Seattle is the biggest winner today. I can't remember ever hearing such praise. We may have to wait awhile tomorrow, but every Hawks fan should be waiting with an ear to ear smile after watching how day one went.