By John Boyle Herald Writer
RENTON — Through two days and three picks of the NFL draft, the Seahawks kept it simple.
Head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider didn’t trade any of their first three picks, and took players with the sixth, 14th and 60th picks, giving them talent at positions of need while leaving little room to question the decisions.
Then Saturday happened.
And what a wild Saturday it was. While most people on the West Coast were still in bed, Schneider and Carroll were already in full-fledged dealing and risk taking mode. They came into the day with six picks in the final three rounds, and ended drafting six players. Just three of those picks happened in the same spot they were scheduled, however, and the Seahawks also came out of the day with three other players via trade, most notably two running backs who could change the look of Seattle’s running game.
During the fourth round, Seattle made a trade with Tennessee, swapping fourth and sixth round picks with the Titans to acquire running back LenDale White, who played for Carroll at USC, and defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson.
A round later, Seattle swapped a fifth-round pick — the Seahawks had two — for Jets running back Leon Washington, who is coming off of a serious leg injury. Washington suffered a compound fracture of his tibia and fibula last season, requiring surgery to insert a steel rod in his leg.
“That’s going to be in there forever, so at least I know I can’t break that leg again,” Washington joked while on a conference call with the Seattle media. He added that he expects to be ready in time for training camp.
Washington, a dynamic back who is a big-play threat on offense and as a kick returner — he was a Pro Bowler in 2008 on special teams — is a health risk, while White comes with a different kind of baggage.
White rushed for 1,110 yards in 2007 his second year in the league, and scored 15 touchdowns a year later. He wasn’t a big part of Tennessee’s plans last season. White has been known to struggle with his weight throughout his career, and after falling out of favor last season, he reportedly was late for meetings. After the trade, Titans coach Jeff Fisher gave a tepid, at best, endorsement of White.
“As far as LenDale falling out of favor, he practiced,” Fisher told the Associated Press. “He was prepared to play. I think I can’t blame him for wanting to play more. That’s the kind of players you want on your roster. Considering the circumstances, he handled things. There were issues I don’t need to bring up. I thought he handled things reasonably well.”
White didn’t do himself any favors last season when he reported to training camp. He showed up nearly 30 pounds lighter, which was good, but told reporters that he lost the weight not with exercise or better diet, but by cutting the tequila out of his diet.
“It wasn’t a lot of major diet changes,” he told reporters at the time. “(It was) watching what I drink. I was a big Patron consumer. … That’s what it was. I was drinking a lot, drank a lot of alcohol. I cut that out of my diet all the way. I don’t drink at all. I cut the drinking, I stopped drinking for six months.”
Which of course begs the questions: how much was he drinking if cutting the tequila caused him to lose 30 pounds.
For the Seahawks, the hope is that a reunion with Carroll will spark a turnaround in White’s game.
“I think you know what you’re getting into,” Schneider said. “I think he knows that he is at the point in his career where he needs to take a step forward, or it’s not going to happen for him. We believe that it’s going to happen for him, and we felt like the risk vs. reward was worth it.”
With Washington and White, Carroll potentially has the speed and power combination that he preferred at USC.
“We’ve always thought our offense was at its best when we had different types of runners,” he said.
The Seahawks now have a crowded backfield with those two plus Julius Jones and Justin Forsett, which sits just fine with Carroll.
“This is good,” he said. “A central theme in this program is to compete and find ways to battle … In time the roster will be pared down accordingly, but at this point, when we’re trying to fight for spots and make this football team, this is exactly what we hope to do in as many spots as possible.”
The risk-taking theme of the day carried over into the draft picks Saturday as well. In the fourth round, Seattle took Oregon cornerback Walter Thurmond III, who is coming back from a serious knee injury that ended his senior season. Before the injury, Thurmond looked like a late first or second-round talent, but he is in the midst of a long recover having torn his ACL, MCL and PCL. Thurmond said right now he is, “Running, cutting, doing all the DB drills” and should be 100 percent by the start of training camp.
Seattle took another risk on a former Carroll player in the sixth round, taking tight end Anthony McCoy. McCoy is one of the most talented tight ends in his class, but he reportedly tested positive for marijuana at the combine, causing his stock to go down.
“I just made a mistake, and I regret doing it,” McCoy said. “Right now I’ve moved past it and I’m just focused on helping the Seattle Seahawks organization win football games.”
The Seahawks used their second fourth-round pick (127 overall) to draft E.J. Wilson, a defensive end from North Carolina, a run-stopping specialist who can play end or tackle.
Strong safety Kam Chancellor from Virginia Tech was Seattle’s fifth-round pick, and Arizona State defensive end Dexter Davis with the first of two seventh-round picks. The Seahawks wrapped things up by taking one more gamble, picking Kent State receiver Jameson Konz. Konz spent three years at linebacker, and played little receiver after moving to offense to play tight end, but at 6-3, 234-pounds. Konz impressed scouts with his measurables, running a 4.41 40-yard dash and recording a vertical of 46 inches.
“We’ll take a shot with a guy that really has number that are off the charts,” Carroll said.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog