Seattle Seahawks 2017 NFL Draft retrospective

NFL Draft Retrospective, Seattle Seahawks

How should the Seattle Seahawks feel about their 2017 NFL Draft class after three years? We take a deep dive into it.

The Seattle Seahawks came into the 2017 NFL Draft on quite a run. Head coach Pete Carroll had taken his team to the playoffs five straight years, including two trips to the Super Bowl. The defense was still in top Legion of Boom mode and had five Pro Bowlers on defense alone. Somehow neither Earl Thomas nor Kam Chancellor was in that group. So of course, the ‘Hawks focused on defense in the draft, using four of their first five picks on that side of the ball.

The Seahawks originally held the 26th pick in the draft. If Carroll and GM John Schneider were normal human beings, they would have stayed there in the first three rounds. But Pete and John are far from the ordinary NFL execs. As we’ve seen so often, the Seahawks moved up and down faster than the Space Needle elevators. When they were done, Seattle had turned six picks into 11. They could get all the players they needed to go even further in the playoffs. Things were looking very good in the Emerald City. At least, that’s what we thought immediately after the draft.

Original Grade

FanSided: B

“The Seahawks traded back twice and likely still wound up with the guy that they wanted. On tape, McDowell is a stud and easy first round pick. However, he is a freelance player and has admitted to playing away from the game plan and doing whatever he wanted to do. It plummeted the stock of the big time defender. However, the Seahawks clearly trust their infrastructure and a player such as Michael Bennett is exactly what is needed for McDowell.” — Parker Hurley

Draft Class

Round 2 (No. 35)

Malik McDowell

DT, Spartans

CURRENT TEAM: N/A

When this pick was announced, there was much rejoicing. Virtually everyone gave this pick a grade of A. But before he reported to training camp in July, McDowell was reportedly involved in an ATV accident. According to several media accounts, no accident report was ever filed, although the ATV that McDowell purchased was reported as a total loss within a week of the incident. The Seahawks placed him on the PUP list, then eventually was waived a year later.

It was a complete waste of the ‘Hawks’ first selection in the draft, a forfeit of draft capital that still impacts the team today. Seattle saw a great future for the immensely gifted McDowell and its defensive line. Much worse than the wasted draft pick is the waste of McDowell’s own potential. He’s been arrested four times since the accident and was recently sentenced to 11 months in jail for the series of altercations — mostly a series of DUI-related incidents. He’ll never do a thing for the Seahawks, but we certainly hope he does something for himself.

Round 2 (No. 58)

Ethan Pocic

C, Tigers

CURRENT TEAM: Seattle Seahawks

Pocic was drafted largely because of his versatility. Although he was drafted as a center, he had played both tackle and guard as well in Baton Rouge. Justin Britt had just completed his first year at center for the Hawks, and a good one at that. We anticipated Pocic would probably find a home at guard, moving Germain Ifedi out to tackle. That’s exactly how it played out in his rookie year, but things didn’t go according to plan after that.

After he played in every game and made 11 starts as a rookie, Pocic ran into injury trouble in 2018. He missed six games with an ankle injury and found his left guard position filled by J.R. Sweezy when he was able to return. After showing a lot of promise in 2017, he only made four starts in his sophomore season. 2019 was even worse, as he only got one start and just four game appearances between stints on injured reserve. Much like Britt before him, his ability to play multiple positions on the line has actually held his development back. Hopefully, he can get healthy in 2020 and the Seahawks will give him a more defined role.

Round 3 (No. 90)

Shaquill Griffin

DB, Knights

CURRENT TEAM: Seattle Seahawks

Consider this: The Seahawks have seen a grand total of 16 starts in 48 games out of their first two selections. They were due for a win, and they certainly got one in Griffin. Fast, strong and rangy, the 6’0” 198-pound rookie fit the profile of a Pete Carroll cornerback to a tee. He had the great fortune to start across the field from future Hall-of-Famer Richard Sherman. Opposing quarterbacks completed just 57 percent of their passes when going against the third-year corner. He cracked the top 10 of Pro Football Focus cornerback rankings and made it to the Pro Bowl. Shaquill was a third-round steal.

Round 3 (No. 95)

Delano Hill

S, Wolverines

CURRENT TEAM: Seattle Seahawks

As a rookie, Hill was strictly an understudy to Thomas and Chancellor. He had just 32 snaps on defense but was second to only Neiko Thorpe in special teams plays. Hill continued to develop in his second season but was far better as a strong safety, and Bradley McDougald had that spot on lockdown. Hill finally earned his place in the starting lineup in the last two games of 2018, and things were looking up, but 2019 proved to be challenging for him. He made four starts, but battled injuries all season. If he could play the role of super-sub that McDougald played for the ‘Hawks in his first season, Hill would prove to be a solid pick. 2020 is the year he needs to come through.

Round 3 (No. 102)

Nazair Jones

DT, Tar Heels

CURRENT TEAM: Seattle Seahawks

The 6’2” 292-pound Jones showed quite a bit of promise as a rookie for the Seahawks. He got into 11 games and made two starts, and showed up all over the stat sheet with two sacks, three tackles for a loss, four quarterback hits, a recovered fumble and even a 24-yard interception return. He wasn’t able to build on his success in 2018, though. Like Hill and Pocic, he missed several games due to injury. His snap count dropped from 284 to 132, and he didn’t make a single start despite the departure of starting tackle Sheldon Richardson. 2019 was a total loss for Jones, as he was placed on injured reserve due to a recurring knee injury.

Round 3 (No. 106)

Amara Darboh

WR, Wolverines

CURRENT TEAM: Pittsburgh Steelers

The 6’2” 214-pound Darboh gave Seattle a bit of that size it had been craving for so long. He hauled in 151 passes for 2,062 yards and 14 scores in college. Russell Wilson had his third option to go with Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett. Unfortunately, after McDowell, Darboh has to be considered the biggest disappointment of Seattle’s 2017 draft. Despite getting into all 16 games, he saw just 13 targets and caught eight balls. The following season, he was waived by the ‘Hawks just before the start of the season. After a failed physical with the New England Patriots, he returned to the Seahawks but was placed on injured reserve for the year, then waived him in August of 2019.

Round 4 (No. 111)

Tedric Thompson

S, Buffaloes

CURRENT TEAM: Seattle Seahawks

T2 is a strange case. He saw just a few snaps on defense as a rookie, and barely over 100 on special teams. With McDougald taking Chancellor’s role at strong safety in 2018, Thompson took over at free safety after Thomas went down in the fourth game. T2 played relatively well for a guy with hardly any game experience, meaning he got burned on deep routes too often. In 2019, those times Thompson got torched turned into an inordinately huge bonfire. Just when he appeared to finally be healthy, the ‘Hawks put him on injured reserve. His future in Seattle is anything but bright.

Round 6 (No. 187)

Michael Tyson

S, Bearcats

CURRENT TEAM: Free Agent

Now we’ve entered the realm of the low-risk, and almost always low-reward picks. The Seahawks moved Tyson to cornerback, but he spent his entire rookie season on the practice squad. Seattle waived him in September of 2018. He caught on with the Texans just days later, eventually playing in 10 games and even making a couple of starts. He went on injured reserve in January 2019, then was waived in May. The Packers signed him three days later and put him on injured reserve in August before waiving him in September. Tyson remains a free agent at this time.

Round 6 (No. 210)

Justin Senior

OT, Bulldogs

CURRENT TEAM: Free Agent

At 6’5” and 329 pounds, Senior started at right tackle for three seasons in the SEC West, another indication that he’s pretty good at the sport. He was also drafted by the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL, but Seattle won out. The ‘Hawks placed him on injured reserve in August, and an injury settlement in December of that year ended his Seahawks career. Senior managed to make it back from his injury last season, though. He signed with the Chiefs in February, but was eventually cut in June. He’s never played a down of professional football.

Round 7 (No. 226)

David Moore

WR, Tigers

CURRENT TEAM: Seattle Seahawks

It took a while, but the Seahawks struck gold again. Moore didn’t make the active roster, but Seattle did sign him to the practice squad for the entire season. 2018 was his breakout year. He played in every game, starting in seven contests, but was maddeningly inconsistent. He was much more consistent in 2019. Of his 17 catches, 14 were for first downs and two went for touchdowns. Moore made just one catch that didn’t move the chains or light the scoreboard. That’s a heck of a player for a seventh-round pick.

Round 7 (No. 249)

Chris Carson

RB, Cowboys

CURRENT TEAM: Seattle Seahawks

As a rookie, Carson forced his way into a running back rotation that totaled 105 games in the NFL compared to his zero. Sadly, he would only play four games in 2017, as he missed the rest of the season with a broken ankle. Carson was a workhorse in 2018, finish fifth in the league in rushing yards. 2019 was a replay of 2018, as he again totaled well over 1,00 yards rushing and finished fifth in rushing overall. He nearly doubled his receptions, from 20 in 2018 to 37 last season — not bad for the guy who was just two picks away from being Mr. Irrelevant.

Retrospective Grade

2017 was a bit of a strange draft class for the Seahawks. In some ways, it was a class that will set Seattle back for a bit. Missing on McDowell (or rather, McDowell missing on himself) was a big loss. Then drafting Ethan Pocic with the next pick hurt too. Pocic simply looks like he will never have the muscle to succeed in the NFL.

None of the linemen, whether offensive or defensive, will pan out long-term. Only one of the defensive backs taken will ever seem to matter in Seattle’s future plans and neither receiver is a truly viable option. But then there are two players that are great for Seattle now and should be difference-makers in the future as well: Shaquill Griffin and Chris Carson.

Bottom Line: The 2017 NFL Draft class for the Seahawks has produced just one Pro Bowler (Griffin) and another that could have made the Pro Bowl in 2019 if he had not had a late injury (Carson). But getting two out of 11 picks right is not a good thing for any NFL franchise. The Seahawks have had better draft classes since, but the 2017 class will be remembered as one of their worst of the 2010s.

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