Recently a lot of people have been criticizing the Seahawks last four drafts. They point to the failure of the team to draft any regular Pro-Bowlers or even regular starters. They hold 2010-2012 up as the standard for the team. Those years were amazing. They drafted 14 players that would significantly contribute (defined by my subjective opinion) to the team. The results set an impossible standard that we shouldn't judge them against.
The Seattle Times did a good job breaking down some of the reasons why the results of the Seahawk's drafts have gotten worse. Probably the most important reason was what The Times called regression to the mean. To summarize basically no teams are ever consistently good at drafting. They may have a few good drafts, but it is mostly luck. Teams just can't consistent determine which players will succeed and which will fail. The Seahawks got really lucky over 2010-2012. No team can consistently draft huge numbers of starters year after year.
The Seahawk's recentdrafts (2016 excluded) aren't as terrible as people seem to say. They have picked players that contribute, just at closer to two a year instead of four or five. The team's current struggles aren't because of bad drafting as much as injuries and natural aging of their stars. The team has picked quality players, just not at the crazy rate of 2010-2012.
To highlight these impact players let's start in 2013 and work our way through all the drafts up to 2016. I am going to include 2017 because those players have only had one professional year and it is early to judge them, although I think it has a lot of promise with Naz Jones, Shaquill Griffin, Chris Carson, and Ethan Pocic.
First up is 2013, which will always be remember for the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl and not for who they drafted. This year the Seahawks picked eleven players, including four in the seventh round. The Seahawks did draft Christine Michael in the second round. The running back was shock to many when he was drafted and ended up a big disappointment during his tenure with the Seahawks. The two players that have had the biggest positive impact on the team are Jordan Hill and Luke Willson.
Jordan Hill was definitely never a star for the team, but he did play an important role. His promising rookie season was cut short because of injury. 2014 was a good season for the big defensive tackle. He recorded 5.5 sacks and played in 13 games for a team that would make it to the Super Bowl for the second year in a row. Hill played one more adequate year in Seattle before moving on to Jacksonville.
Over his five year career with the Seahawks Luke Willson players in 72 of the possible 80 games. Although he was never a big threat in the passing game he did often produce when called upon. The whole time he was in Seattle Willson was stuck behind Jimmy Graham on the depth chart. Although not his fault this definitely suppressed his stats.
The next draft to review is 2014. This year the team drafted nine players. Three of these men have had noteworthy careers with Seattle, Paul Richardson, Justin Britt, and Cassius Marsh.
Richardson show a lot of potential at wide receiver, but he struggled to stay healthy. He has blazing fast speed, that should let him get separation downfield. It took him until last year, 2017, when he gained 703 yards and caught 6 touchdowns to put it all together. Richardson won't be in the Ring of Honor, but he wasn't a busted draft pick.
Since he was drafted Justin Britt has started 63 of a possible 64 games. He was frustrating to watch his first couple of seasons, but he has since turned a corner. Last year Britt was the best offensive lineman for the Seahawks. His play at center was the only position that was even adequate until the arrival of Duane Brown.
It might be a surprise to some people that I included Cassius Marsh as an impact player. His stats certainly don't paint him to be one. However in 2015 and 2016 Marsh was a regular in the defensive line rotation and provided quality play when he was on the field. He pressured the quarterback and took up blockers allowing other players to make tackles. Marsh was by no means a super star, but he was a solid contributor for the Seahawks for two seasons before being traded to the Patriots.
2015 landed the Seahawks two impact players out of the eight they drafted. Interestingly 2015 was the third year in a row the Seahawks didn't draft in the first round. It has led to a running joke in Seattle about the Seahawks brass preferring seventh rounders over first rounders. Anyways, the two players of note from 2015 were Frank Clark and Tyler Lockett.
Whether or not you like Frank Clark as a person he has been a net positive on the football field for the Seahawks. After getting used to the NFL in 2015, Clark has recorded 19 sacks over the last two seasons. There are games when he disappears, which is frustrating, but overall Clark gets pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Tyler Lockett had a truly exciting rookie campaign. He gained 664 yards receiving and caught 6 touchdowns. He started to develop a real chemistry with quarterback Russell Wilson. Lockett was even better in the return game. He returned a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown. To recognize his achievements he made the Pro-Bowl has a returner. Unfortunately Lockett hasn't been able to repeat the feats of his rookie year. His average punt return yards shrank in each consecutive season and he has never taken his receiving to the next level. Even so, Lockett is still a good and young player.
As I mentioned above 2016 was the one exception to my argument that the Seahawks drafts haven't been that bad. 2016 was essentially a complete miss for the team. They drafted 10 players, including Germain Ifedi, their first first round selection since 2012. Despite the large number of picks and the high rounds, the Seahawks just were unable to find quality players. Alex Collins appears he might be a good NFL running back, but the Seahawks cut him and now he plays for the Ravens. The one guy that I would count as a positive impact for team is Jarran Reed. He has played a very solid defensive tackle for the Seahawks in 30 of 32 possible games. He is definitely a contributing member of the rotation and is able to record tackles and assist on others at a satisfactory rate.
Between 2010 and 2012 the Seahawks set a standard for the quality of their drafts that is impossible for them to repeat. Even the most brilliant football minds of all time would struggle to replicate the amount of talent the Seahawks snagged over those three years. The team's subsequent drafts have looked bad by comparison, but in reality they are passable. That isn't to say there haven't been mistakes (see Christine Michael), but there have also been successes. The Seahawk's Front Office isn't bad at drafting now, they are just doing it at a more sustainable level of quality.