SEATTLE — Sitting through all 256 picks of the NFL draft can be a head-spinning experience (though you’d never know it looking at Mel Kiper’s hair).
So if you’re still looking for some clarity to what happened, and what happens now, you’re in luck.
Here we go with some answers to your most burning questions, all with a Seahawk slant.
Q: What was the general national assessment of Seattle’s draft?
A: Mostly, that the Seahawks have earned the benefit of the doubt for just about everything they do — even if some draftniks found their selections at times a little, well, head-scratching.
Kiper, for one, gave Seattle a C-minus, largely because he felt a few players the team drafted would have still been available later. Kiper, though, conceded that it’s hard to question much of what Seattle does given its rise the last four years under general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll, writing “the Seahawks know what they are doing, but it’s fair to say they had a couple value questions again.”
Others were generally a little kinder, with most putting the Seahawks in the B range, a grade not unexpected considering Seattle traded down twice and didn’t have its first selection until pick No. 45, later than all but two other teams (Redskins and Colts).
Wrote USA Today, while questioning some of the picks but acknowledging that Seattle has had a knack of late for unearthing gems that everyone else missed: “Rule of thumb — Schneider and the Seahawks know, and the rest of us don’t.”
Q: Of Seattle’s nine picks, who has the best personal story?
A: One of the best parts of what happens now is beginning to get to know the new players, all of whom have compelling histories.
Two, though, stood out in the immediate aftermath — fourth-round receiver Kevin Norwood of Alabama and seventh-round fullback Kiero Small of Arkansas.
Norwood’s family house was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (he was then living in Gulfport, Miss.) when he was 15. At Alabama, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Sports Management, finishing up the latter last season during his fifth year on campus. “I thought ‘why not?’ ” he said.
Small initially attended Valley Forge Military Academy out of high school, but decided after a semester it wasn’t for him, and for a time gave up football, working instead at his family’s T-shirt shop in Baltimore. That experience helped convince him to give football another shot, and he landed at Hartnell Community College in Salinas, Calif., and then Arkansas. “It was definitely a humbling experience,’’ he said.
Q: Which picks might have the best chance to make an impact next season?
A: Paul Richardson, Seattle’s first overall selection in the second round, will be expected to earn a spot in the receiving rotation, assuming his size (he’s up to 182 after playing in college in the 160s) isn’t an issue. Fellow second-round pick Justin Britt will have a chance to win the job at right tackle, competing with second-year player Michael Bowie. Norwood also has a chance in what will be a fierce battle for roster spots among receivers. Fourth-round DT Cassius Marsh and LB Kevin Pierre-Louis also could break through, the latter expected to contribute immediately on special teams.
Q: Which undrafted free agents have the best chance to make the team?
A: Seattle has signed nine undrafted free agents. Recall that in each of the last three years undrafted free agents made the team, some making significant immediate contributions, such as Doug Baldwin in 2011, Jermaine Kearse in 2012 and Alvin Bailey and Benson Mayowa in 2013.
UW quarterback Keith Price may be the best known locally of the 2014 undrafted free agents signed, but faces a stiff challenge to make it with four other QBs on the roster. Two who might have the best chance are Jackson Jeffcoat, a defensive end from Texas who some projected as a mid-round pick; and safety Dion Bailey of USC, who initially committed to the Trojans when Carroll was still the coach.
Q: So what’s next for the Seahawks?
A: The team will hold a rookie mini-camp this weekend. Some teams are scrapping rookie mini-camps because of the time crunch with the later-than-usual draft, but Seattle will host its draft picks, undrafted free agents, and a slew of others who are in for tryouts, Friday through Sunday.
Veteran players remain in what is called Phase Two of the offseason program, a three-week time in which on-field workouts are permitted but there is no live contact and no drills in which the offense works against the defense.
The Seahawks will then have 10 organized training activity practices from May 27 through Jun 12, when 11-on-11 drills are permitted, though no live contact. A mandatory three-day mini-camp will be held June 17-19 before the team then breaks for the summer, before returning in late July for training camp and the start of another season.