Seahawks see Tate as a ‘touchdown maker’

RENTON — Another day, another need fulfilled for the Seahawks.

After using two first-round picks Thursday to find a future left tackle and a free safety in Russell Okung and Earl Thomas, respectively, the Seahawks hope they found a much-needed big-play threat by drafting Notre Dame receiver Golden Tate on Friday.

According to Seahawks general manager John Schneider, the team had Tate ranked as a first-round talent, so Schneider and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll were thrilled to see he was still around as the 60th pick drew near.

“When he got to us at that point, we thought we were very fortunate,” Carroll said. “… He’s a very unique player. A guy that makes a lot happen.”

And that is something the Seahawks definitely need. The offseason departure of wide receiver Nate Burleson only weakened an offense that already lacked big-play ability. Over the course of last season, the Seahawks scored just two touchdowns from outside 40 yards, and didn’t return a kick or punt for more than 46 yards.

Tate, who also will be used as a return man, averaged 17.2 yards per catch over three seasons at Notre Dame, and scored 15 touchdowns in 12 games last season.

“This is truly a touchdown maker,” Carroll said. “This is a guy who’s going to get the ball in his hands, he’s going to break tackles, and he’s going to run around the field and make things happen in a very special way.”

Tate said he plans to learn the playbook at every receiver position to be versatile, and is willing to do anything to get his hands on the ball, be it kick returns, punt returns or even taking direct snaps if his coaches ask him to. And wherever he is on the field, Tate plans to keep making big plays.

“That’s what separates me from other receivers,” he said. “At any time I can break a tackle and take it to the house, and I think that’s what I’ll bring to Seattle.”

Just as Day 2 allowed Seattle to fill a need for the second straight day, it also brought another scare. But, as was the case Thursday, the scare turned out to be a false alarm. During the first round, Philadelphia traded up to get the 13th pick, which made the Seahawks worry the Eagles would take Earl Thomas. Instead Philly picked defensive end Brandon Graham, allowing the Seahawks to get the safety they coveted.

A day later, a similar situation played out when Cleveland, led by team president Mike Holmgren, traded into the 59th spot. But again, Seattle got the player it wanted.

“It was great he was still there,” Schneider said. “I was very surprised.”

After picking just once Friday — Seattle traded this year’s third-round pick to draft wide receiver Deon Butler last season — the Seahawks will be much busier today. Seattle has two fourth-round picks (104 and 127 overall), two fifths (133, 139), one sixth (176) and one seventh (245).

“Tomorrow is going to be fun,” Schneider said. “Tomorrow is going to be a lot of fun.”

Mays miffed at Caroll

In picking safety Earl Thomas with the 14th pick of the first round Thursday, Carroll passed over safety Taylor Mays, who played for Carroll at USC.

Carroll explained after making the pick that Seattle just couldn’t pass up Thomas’ playmaking abilities. Mays, meanwhile, ended up falling into the second round, eventually going 49th overall to San Francisco. In a conference call with Bay Area reporters, Mays didn’t sound very happy with his former coach.

“It was interesting,” said Mays, a graduate of O’Dea High School in Seattle. “I thought from the relationship that we have, the things he had told me about, what I needed to be aware of through the draft process, things I needed to do, I felt like he told me the complete opposite of the actions that he took, which was alarming … The things he told me I needed to do as a football player versus the actions he took and who he took as a safety. I understand it’s a business, but with it being a business, you have to be honest. That’s all I was asking for.”

Asked what advice Carroll gave him, Mays said: “Just in terms that I didn’t have anything to worry about. That my game was OK. My back-pedal was fine. My tackling was fine. Those were all things I asked about what I needed to work on and what I need to show at all these points. And I was kind of led to think that I was OK.”

Carroll didn’t begrudge his former player for speaking out.

“I love him, I love him to death, and I know how competitive he is and I don’t blame him for being the way he is,” Carroll said. “ … I feel for him. My heart sunk with him when he didn’t get picked earlier.”

Herald Writer John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog.

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