Seahawks and a NFL Draft Story
At the NFL Scouting Combine in 2011, the word on Richard Sherman, a cornerback from Stanford, was him being more willing than able.
He played wide receiver for two years at Stanford, catching 34 and 39 passes. Then he moved to cornerback for two years, intercepting an overall total of six passes and defending 23.
At the combine, his time in the 40-yard dash – 4.54 seconds – was in the bottom quarter among cornerbacks. There were 24 cornerbacks who ran faster than Sherman at the combine, only eight who were slower. The cornerback with the exact same time, Niles Brinkley from Wisconsin, was not drafted.
There was little to suggest Richard Sherman was about to become, by far, the NFL’s best cornerback during a pass-happy era when there is a tremendous premium on the position.
Yet, the Seattle Seahawks, with the 154th overall pick in the fifth round, made Sherman the 23rd cornerback selected in the NFL Draft that year.
Conversely, the Lions selected defensive tackle Nick Fairley in the first round, wide receiver Titus Young in the second round, traded up for running back Mikel Leshoure late in the second round, linebacker Doug Hogue in fifth round and offensive tackle Johnny Culbreath in the seventh round of the ’11 NFL Draft.
It wasn’t that long ago, right? Only Fairley, who has had an up-and-down career, and Leshoure, remain with the Lions. And Leshoure played in three games and carried the ball just two times last season despite being healthy. There is a possibility he will be released before the beginning of the free agent signing period begins next month. He has a year remaining on his contract.
Fairley, Young, Leshoure and Culbreath were all involved in well-documented, conduct-related incidents. Hogue was in on only eight tackles in two years with the Lions.
Ironically, the 154th overall pick was the Lions’ until they traded it to Seattle as part of moving from the third round into the second to draft Leshoure. They swapped fifth round picks and got Hogue while the Seahawks took Sherman.
The Lions dealt their third-round pick to Seattle, which turned it into guard John Moffitt from Wisconsin. He didn’t pan out and eventually walked away from the NFL disgruntled with the football culture.
But the rest of Seattle’s draft that year is not only a statement of the Seahawks’ excellence as an organization, but an indictment on the Lions and their failings.
These are the Seahawks taken in the 2011 Draft, who started in their Super Bowl rout of Denver: Guard James Carpenter (first round), linebacker K.J. Wright (fourth round), Sherman (fifth round) and cornerback Byron Maxwell (sixth round).
Linebacker Malcolm Smith didn’t start for Seattle, but he was the Super Bowl MVP after returning an interception 69 yards for a touchdown, making nine tackles, defending a pass and recovering a fumble.
When Sherman deflected the game-deciding pass away from the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game, it was Smith who intercepted it.
Smith was a seventh-round draft pick of the Seahawks in 2011 – 31 selections after the Lions chose Culbreath.
If it’s any consolation to the Lions, and it’s a small one, Seahawks’ castoff Kris Durham, a fourth-round pick for Seattle in ’11, was Detroit’s second-leading wide receiver in ’13. He was actually selected by the Seahawks with a pick Detroit gave them in the Leshoure trade, kind of giving the saying “what goes around comes around” a twisted meaning,
You’ll will see a lot of coverage about the combine this week, and most of it will be centered toward the top-end players.
But the reality is, NFL teams are made, one way or another, up-and-down the draft because of evaluations good and bad, which aren’t immediately obvious.
This much is clear: The Lions missed big-time with their 2011 NFL Draft, which was strongly intertwined with the Seahawks.
Conversely, Seattle hit the jackpot with Richard Sherman and others in the same draft. It was a big part of the Seahawks winning their first Super Bowl championship.
And the Lions ending up doing what has been their trademark for more than five decades.
Licking their wounds, left to wonder why.
Daily Tribune Sports | by Pat Caputo