RENTON — Over three days and seven rounds, the Seattle Seahawks spent a good portion of the 2012 draft focusing on their defense.
Of the seven players picked in rounds four through seven on Sunday, however, the one that might have the most immediate impact is running back Robert Turbin, a fourth-round pick out of Utah State. Turbin, who is 5-foot-10, 222 pounds, is a big back with a combination of power and speed that the Seahawk hope will allow them to keep their running game clicking even when Marshawn Lynch needs a break.
“We like the thought that when Marshawn comes off the field, we still have that impact player, big-time guy who can keep the rhythm going,” head coach Pete Carroll said.
And while Turbin’s place among this year’s rookie class remains to be seen, it is safe to immediately declare him one of the easiest players to pull for in the 2012 draft. His older sister Trina, who had multiple sclerosis, died when Turbin was a young child. By the time he was in third grade, Turbin helped care for his sister Tiffany, who has cerebral palsy, when his dad was at work.
“I started taking care of her on my own when I was about eight years old,” Turbin said on a conference call. “She’s in a wheelchair, the only thing she can move is her head. My role was to feed her when it was time to feed her and give her water and change her diapers and put her to sleep and pretty much do everything that you would do with a newborn baby. … That was my role whenever my dad was gone at work.”
In February, Turbin’s older brother, who battled with drug addiction, who Turbin hoped to be able to help after getting drafted, was shot and killed.
“It’s motivated me a lot,” Turbin said of his family hardships. “Now I have an opportunity to be there for my family.”
Aside from Turbin, and third-round pick Russell Wilson, this week was mostly about defense for the Seahawks. They began the draft by taking defensive end Bruce Irvin, and over the course of seven rounds used seven of 10 picks on defensive players. Other than Wilson and Turbin, the only player Seattle picked to help the offense was guard J.R. Sweezy, and he spent his entire career at N.C. State playing defensive tackle.
Seahawks general manager John Schneider insists the defensive-heavy draft wasn’t by design.
“You have to continue to follow your board all the way through,” he said. “… We try to improve our team the whole way through, but once you start picking by need, that’s when you get in trouble.”
And while the defensive-loaded draft class was something of a coincidence, the other common theme of the week, speed, was not. Almost every player Seattle drafted was among the fastest and most athletic at his position. That’s good news for a coach who said at the end of last season that a priority was to get faster, particularly on defense.
“If you look at it, our slowest guy was an offensive lineman at 4.85 (second in the 40-yard dash),” Pete Carroll said, referring to Sweezy. “There’s great speed in this draft for us, and that’s really exciting across the board. And it’s going to help our special teams enormously.”
Another thing several of Seattle’s draft picks have in common is versatility. Second-round pick Bobby Wagner, who projects as Seattle’s starting middle linebacker, played all three linebacker positions at Utah State. Fourth-round pick Jaye Howard, a defensive tackle from Florida, said he is comfortable anywhere on the defensive line, as did seventh-rounder Gregg Suggs, a defensive end from Louisville. Winston Guy, a safety out of Kentucky who Seattle took in the sixth round, played both safety positions as well as some linebacker in college. That will help not just on defense, but more immediately on special teams.
“With all of the speed of these guys, they do give us the ability to move them around on special teams,” Carroll said. “I can see how you can look at it like you can play a guy here or there, and there is a little bit of that with these guys. It’s a great group in that regard.”
University of Washington wide receiver Jermaine Kearse signed a free-agent contract with the Seahawks on Saturday. Kearse was one of 10 free agents the Seahawks signed following completion of the NFL draft.
The Seahawks also signed Ohio wide receiver Phil Bates, McNeese State cornerback London Durham, California (PA) guard Rishaw Johnson, Henderson State tight end Sean McGrath, Montana guard Jon Opperud, Portland State defensive back DeShawn Shead, Cincinnati Leo (defensive end) Monte Taylor, Oregon wide receiver Lavasier Tuinei and Purdue kicker Carson Wiggs.
Four free agents — quarterback Josh Portis, safety Jeron Johnson and wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Ricardo Lockette — finished the season on the 53-man roster last year.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org