RENTON — When the Seattle Seahawks drafted James Carpenter late in the first round in 2011, then took John Moffitt two rounds later, offensive line coach Tom Cable said both had the inside track on starting jobs with the season still five months away.
Two years later, the Seahawks’ first pick, running back Christine Michael, projects as a third-stringer. Their third-round pick, Jordan Hill, figures to be a rotational defensive lineman, and most of the nine players taken on Saturday are far from being locks to make the roster, let alone have major roles in 2013. Fifth-round pick Jesse William, a monster of a defensive tackle, is arguably the only player in this draft class with a clear path to a starting job, and even that is far from a sure thing.
There are plenty of ways to measure a team’s growth, wins being the most important, but another sign of just how far the Seahawks have come since head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider took over in 2010 is to consider just how hard it will be for members of this year’s draft class to make the team, never mind win a starting job.
Of the 28 players Seattle has drafted under Schneider and Carroll, only seven have been released, and one, Idaho linebacker Korey Toomer, was kept on the practice squad. It would be rather surprising to see three quarters of this year’s draft class make the 53-man roster.
Yes, making this Seahawks roster is going to be tough, and that’s just the way Carroll and Schneider want it.
“We hope it’s really hard, that it’s very difficult,” Carroll said. “That means we’re going in the right direction. The whole idea is to make this roster as competitive as possible, and that means it’s hard for these guys to make it.”
Yet even if the Seahawks don’t get big contributions from this draft class like they have in the past couple of years, that won’t mean they didn’t find good players. Maybe somebody in this group has a quiet year, then becomes a starter when a veteran moves on in free agency next year or the year after. Or maybe an injury forces someone into action midseason.
Last season the 49ers went to the Super Bowl without having a rookie start all season. That wasn’t because the Niners drafted poorly, but rather because of the quality of their veteran players. And don’t think for a second that the Seahawks wouldn’t love to be in that situation this year.
“If we were playing in the Super Bowl?” Schneider asked when the 49ers example was brought up. “I think we’d be pretty excited.
“The 49ers drafted very well last year. They took very good players, they’re just a very talented football team, so those guys weren’t able to get on the field as much.”
Seahawks sign 9 free agents
The usual scramble to snap up the best undrafted talent immediately after the end of round No. 7 was tougher this year for the Seahawks because of the team’s aforementioned depth. Rookie free agents don’t get to celebrate being drafted, but if they’re in demand, they can pick a team that might have holes to fill at their position, and there aren’t many holes on Seattle’s roster.
“This was the hardest rookie free agent period we’ve had,” Schneider said. “Pete was recruiting like crazy just now.”
Difficult or not, the Seahawks did add nine players, all of whom will no doubt be hoping to be the next Doug Baldwin, who was Seattle’s leading receiver as a rookie after going undrafted in the 2010 draft: receiver Matt Austin, Utah State; tackle Alvin Bailey, Arkansas; defensive end Kenneth Boatright, Southern Illinois; linebacker Ramon Buchanan, Miami; linebacker John Lotulelei, UNLV, safety Ray Polk, Colorado; guard Jordon Roussos, Bowling Green; running back Dominique Whaley, Oklahoma; and linebacker Craig Wilkins, Old Dominion.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.