RENTON, Wash. — Seattle’s second pick in the fourth round arrived Saturday with Kevin Norwood having once again pulled away from the pack, as he had also done so often during his days at Alabama.
“He was by himself up there (on Seattle’s board),” said Seattle general manager John Schneider.
But once the pick was made, Norwood was part of what is suddenly a crowded group of receivers on the Seattle roster.
On Friday, the Seahawks took Colorado’s Paul Richardson with their first pick in the second round, No. 45 overall.
Saturday, after grabbing UCLA defensive tackle Cassius Marsh with their first pick in the fourth round, the Seahawks then picked up Norwood, though only after again trading down, making a deal with Cincinnati to get an extra selection in the sixth round.
That moved Seattle from pick 111 to 123, and Schneider and coach Pete Carroll figured Norwood was gone.
“At that point, we felt like we were losing Kevin,” Schneider said.
Later, Carroll called the fact that Norwood was still there maybe the highlight of the day.
“We were most fortunate to still have a shot (at him),” Carroll said.
Seattle also took linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis of Boston College in the fourth round with pick No. 132, defensive tackle Jimmy Staten of Middle Tennessee State in the fifth round (172), offensive tackle Garrett Scott of Marshall (199), defensive back Eric Pinkins of San Diego State (208) and fullback Kiero Small of Arkansas (227) in a draft in which the Seahawks picked up nine players overall. They entered the draft with just six picks, using three different trades to acquire three more.
That they used two of the first four on receivers, though, could be the ultimate legacy of this draft.
It was the first time Seattle had drafted two receivers in the first four rounds since 1991, when the Seahawks took Doug Thomas of Clemson in the second round and David Daniels of Penn State in the third. Seattle hopes this draft turns out better than that one — Daniels and Thomas were each out of football by 1994.
Receiver seemed an obvious spot to target with the Seahawks having lost Golden Tate in free agency, Sidney Rice — re-signed after being released — still coming off a knee injury, and Doug Baldwin still working out a long-term deal with the team, currently secured only for the 2014 season.
Schneider, though, insisted taking two receivers sort of just happened.
“We didn’t go into this thing saying we have to have a receiver,” he said.
Instead, he said, Norwood was just too good to pass up.
At 6-2 and 198 pounds, Norwood is a bigger target than the 6-foot, 183-pound Richardson.
Norwood, though, also caught two fewer passes in his career at Alabama (81) than Richardson caught last season (83).
But that came within the confines of a dominant Alabama offense, something the Seahawks think caused Norwood to be undervalued. What Seattle saw was that whenever the Tide needed a big play in the passing game, it more often than not went to Norwood.
“There’s nothing overly flashy about him,” Schneider said. “Except that he’s incredibly tough and reliable and smart and savvy. I think that’s probably why he lasted as long as he did.”
And while Tate may be gone and Rice’s health potentially still a question, receiver looms as being as competitive as any position battle in training camp. Percy Harvin is healthy, Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse will be back with apparently settled roles, and the team also added two intriguing free agents in former CFL Most Outstanding Rookie Chris Matthews and Taylor Price.
“It’s pretty dang stiff,” Schneider said of the competition at receiver.
With a young roster coming off a Super Bowl title, the same could be said for the competition for each of the other draftees as well.
Maybe the most intriguing is Pinkins, who stands almost 6-3 and weighs 220 pounds. He played safety at San Diego State, but the Seahawks drafted him with the idea of turning him into another big-body corner.
Many of the other picks at the bottom were picked ahead of where many draftniks expected. But in each, Seattle saw some defining quality that stood out. And getting the added picks allowed Seattle to play the percentages game. They might not all turn out, but with more picks, the odds are better that some will.
“It’s harder for guys to make it,” Carroll said. “But boy, it’s the same thing we’ve been doing because they (the veterans) can feel the push from the new guys, and those new guys get a great shot with us. We throw them in there and they’ve got to deal with them. It’s kind of how the design is set up.”