Pete Carroll has been on the NFL version of a recruiting trip over the last few months leading up to the 2010 NFL draft and once Eric Berry’s name was called with the fifth overall pick the wait was over.
History in the making, not only was it the first draft selecting for both Pete Carroll and John Schneider as Seahawks executives but it was also a very important boom or bust selection.
Get it right and it can send Seattle on the fast track during this rebuild however if it turns out to be a bust then it sets the Seahawks franchise back even further. So who was Pete Carroll’s first draft selection as head coach of the Seattle Seahawks?
“With the sixth pick in the 2010 NFL draft the Seattle Seahawks select Russell Okung, offensive tackle Oklahoma State”.
Those words being read of a 3x-5x card by commissioner Roger Goodell officially kicked off the NFL draft for the Seattle Seahawks and in great fashion.
Coming into the draft the Seahawks had to address three key needs with their first three picks (No.6 , 14 and 60) and with the first two picks on Thursday they did just that.
The selection of Russell Okung fills the void at left tackle whether or not Walter Jones retires or not is yet to be determined but left tackle was by far the most important need for the Seahawks to fill in the first round.
Russell Okung who was viewed by some as a possible selection for the Detroit Lions (No. 2 overall), Washington Redskins (No. 4 overall) and the Kansas City Chiefs (No. 5 overall) feel to the Seattle Seahawks at No. 6 overall and it was something that Carroll nor Schneider didn’t think was possible.
Once Eric Berry was announced as the fifth overall pick to the Chiefs everyone in Radio City Music hall as well as anyone in the NFL world knew that Okung was gift wrapped with a nice little bow to Seattle to announced to Roger Goodell.
Once Russell Okung was on-board the Seahawks had to wait just a little bit for their next pick in the first-round at No. 14 overall.
However before Seattle could pick at fourteen there was some wheeling-and-dealing going on with the No. 11,12, and 13 overall picks which could have effected the Seahawks possibilities at No.14 overall.
With the Philadelphia Eagles passing on safety Earl Thomas and instead going with defensive end Brandon Graham it cleared the way for the Seahawks to get yet another gift-wrapped pick, this time with Earl Thomas taking the place of Russell Okung.
“With the fourteenth pick in the 2010 NFL Draft the Seattle Seahawks select Earl Thomas, safety Texas”.
Probably the sweetest sound that Seahawks fans and Pete Carroll could hear after they selected Russell Okung with the sixth overall pick.
The Seahawks second biggest need that had to be filled during the draft was starting safety and they certainly get that with Earl Thomas from Texas.
The Seahawks under Jim Mora Jr. ranked 30th against the pass in 2009 and the secondary was one of the most important positions that needed to be rectified this off-season and with the release of veteran Deon Grant it signaled Seattle wanted young and talented in the defensive backfield.
Pete Carroll was rumored to be interested in Tennessee safety Eric Berry however he was off the board by the time Seattle picked at sixth overall so Carroll did the next best thing and that was select Earl Thomas with the 14th overall pick.
Some NFL scouts and experts have Thomas ahead of Berry and Joe Haden as the best defensive back in the 2010 draft class and on tape it’s hard to argue against that notion.
Thomas does not have the prototypical NFL safety size at 5-10 however he makes up for it with sideline-to-sideline speed as well as exceptional cover and tackling skills that will translate into the next level.
Earl Thomas has been compared to the likes of an Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu who are defensive leaders and have instinctive cover and tackling abilities.
Not only is Thomas a great on field but the good news for the Seahawks is that he actually gets on the field and stays off the injury bench, something that has been sat on by several key Seahawks players in the past two years.
Thomas started all 27 games in his career at Texas recording 134 career tackles to go along with five forced fumbles and ten interceptions in his two years at Texas.
Earl Thomas has the title of “Mr. pick six” which means not only does he get the Int but he turns around and burns you twice for the touchdown which is refereed to as “pick six”.
So with the first two picks in his tenure as Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll did the smart thing and made the two best picks he could have made with left tackle Russell Okung at No. 6 overall and safety Earl Thomas at No. 14 overall.
There aren’t any negatives to Carroll’s first-round picks and the most important thing Carroll did today during the draft that doesn’t show up on the draft boards is the fact that he didn’t get cute with his picks.
Coming from the college ranks and having an average NFL track record before coming to Seattle the question was how would Pete Carroll fair on draft day?
Would he try to get cute and go for players like C.J Spiller, Jimmy Clausen, Taylor Mays and others? The answer was a definitive no and that was very clear with the selections of Okung and Thomas.
Carroll didn’t get caught up in the “quarterback draft legend” where head coaches might reach for a quarterback when the don’t necessarily need to and he didn’t try to move up and down the board by trading multiple times like Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels did.
Carroll and Schneider stood stand-office and didn’t get away from both their core values which was build the core positions of an NFL team from the draft/ground up and that’s exactly what they did.
Safety is the quarterback of the defensive side of the ball and left tackle is by far the most important position on offensive behind quarterback.
Pete Carroll took over the reigns of a horrendously depleted roster in January and slowly but surely he’s building this team up with talent at the core position.
This off-season he’s now added a mainframe at left tackle for the next ten plus years with the addition of Russell Okung. He’s acquired the future face of the franchise in quarterback Charlie Whitehurst as well as improve the defense with the addition of Earl Thomas at free safety, Ricky Foley and Chris Clemons at defensive end and the recent signing of offensive guard Ben Hamilton will also go along ways to shoring up the offensive line.
In four months Carroll has done everything that Jim Mora Jr, Tim Ruskell and the later Mike Holmgren couldn’t do and that was build the platform for a super bowl caliber team through the draft instead of spending $25-30 million in guaranteed money to veteran free agents.
Now Pete Carroll and John Schneider get to relax a little bit on day two knowing that the two most crucial needs on this team have been filled with the first two picks that Seattle holds.
Don’t expect the Seahawks to trade up in the top of the second-round to get a shot at Jimmy Clausen, it’s not Carroll or Schneider’s style.
According to ESPN scouts Inc. Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. the Seahawks graded out at an “A” for both of their first-round picks, a good sign for Carroll and company.
Coming up tomorrow the Seahawks currently have one pick at that’s in the second-round (No. 60 overall) via the San Diego Chargers.
The Seahawks still have a need at defensive end, offensive guard (RG), as well as depth across the board. Look for the following players to be potential targets for Carroll and Co. tomorrow in the second-round.
DE Carlos Dunlap-Florida
OG John Jerry-Mississippi
S Nate Allen-USF
WR Damian Williams-USC
S Taylor Mays-USC
Mays is now more of a possibility late in round two for the Seahawks and could move into the strong safety position opposite of Earl Thomas to replace Jordan Babineaux. Seattle could go wide receiver with Damian Williams who should be there at No. 60 overall. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap is the most likely pick if he falls to Seattle.
However you look at it the Seattle Seahawks are one of only a first day winners in the draft and there’s no telling what will happen on day two which holds the second and third-round.
-According to multiple sources Walter Jones will retire next week, one major reason why the Seahawks selected Russell Okung.