Seahawks, Rams have nothing to play for? Not so fast
Sunday's game between the Seahawks and Rams may pit two of the worst teams in the NFL in terms of records, but there's plenty on the line, like the chance to draft Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree.
Not if your name is Mel Kiper Jr., that is.
When the 2-11 Seattle Seahawks take on the 2-11 St. Louis Rams, a fairly significant prize will be on the table -- for the losing team.
Call this one the Crabtree Bowl.
Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree is expected to be among the top three to five picks in the April NFL draft. The winner of Sunday's game might slip out of the top five, while the loser is in good position to have the third overall pick (as of today, Seattle owns No. 3 over St. Louis and 2-11 Kansas City by virtue of the strength-of-schedule tiebreaker).
Both the Rams and the Seahawks have plenty of needs on both sides of the ball, so any number of positions could be addressed. Because Seattle was so ravaged by injuries at the receiver position this season, many so-called experts expect Crabtree to be their target come April.
But drafting a receiver that high is not always a good move, as the Detroit Lions have proven. The Lions have used four top-10 picks on receivers in four of the past six years. Only one of them (Calvin Johnson) is still with the team, and two (Mike Williams and Charles Rogers) are no longer in the NFL.
The Seahawks also have had somewhat tempered success taking receivers in the top 10, in the form of Joey Galloway (1995) and Koren Robinson (2000).
The last time the Seahawks had any kind of a top-10 pick in a draft, the reward was Robinson. While the North Carolina State product did deliver one 1,000-yard season, he had a series of alcohol-related problems that eventually got him shipped out of town.
Although a more mature, sober Robinson re-signed with the team earlier this season, that 2000 pick will never be mentioned among the best in team history.
Fellow 2000 draft pick David Terrell, chosen eighth overall by Chicago, lasted just four seasons with the Bears and is no longer in the league. This from a draft that included wide receivers Santana Moss, Reggie Wayne, Chad Johnson, Steve Smith, Chris Chambers and T.J. Houshmandzadeh -- all of whom were selected after the first 10 picks.
Former Top-10 picks Peter Warrick (Cincinnati, 2000) and Charles Rogers (Detroit, 2003) are also out of football, while receivers like Troy Williamson (Minnesota, 2005) and Roy Williams (Detroit, 2004) have already been traded.
Even the productive top-10 picks have been somewhat unsuccessful. Houston's Andre Johnson, Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald, Cleveland's Braylon Edwards and Detroit's Calvin Johnson have a combined 1,198 career receptions, 114 touchdowns and exactly zero playoff appearances. That shows that big-time receivers are not always as important to a team's success as other positions might be.
Of the 14 wide receivers taken among the top 10 picks of the past eight drafts, the most successful in terms of production and team success may well be Plaxico Burress. The Pittsburgh Steelers took Burress eighth overall in 2000 before letting him go in free agency five years later.
And we all know how that pick has turned out in recent weeks.
Both the Seahawks and Rams will be playing to win this weekend, but many of their fans might secretly be hoping for another Sunday of missed opportunities. The loser of Sunday's game has the inside track on the No. 3 pick, and Crabtree is considered the biggest prize.
But several other options could be there, should the loser of Sunday's game sour on a receiver. The upcoming draft class is said to be rich in offensive tackles (Walter Jones is 34 years old and currently hobbled by a knee injury), defensive backs (Seattle could use some size at the position) and might even include a couple quarterbacks among the top-five selections (should the Seahawks feel ready to seek out Matt Hasselbeck's eventual replacement).
For whichever team comes out on the short end of the scoreboard Sunday, the choice might be that much easier.
Note: Practice squad offensive lineman Pat Murray was signed to the Denver Broncos' active roster this week. The Seahawks now have an available spot on their practice squad. Last week, Seattle added defensive tackle Kevin Brown to the practice squad for the second time this season.
On the bright side ...
If the season ended today, the Seahawks would have the No. 3 overall draft pick by virtue of the strength-of-schedule tiebreaker, giving them a real shot at a player like Michael Crabtree (right). Here is a look at the draft order after 14 weeks of the NFL season:
1. Detroit Lions (0-13)
2. Cincinnati Bengals (1-11-1)
3. Seattle Seahawks (2-11)
4. St. Louis Rams (2-11)
5. Kansas City Chiefs (2-11)
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