Pickle is a quite the versatile noun, isn’t it? It can be a synonym for a person’s head, a challenging problem or situation, the male sex organ, and of course a cucumber preserved in a pickling liquid. No, I’m not planning to write about the Seahawks’ sex organ (if such a thing even exists). I’m actually participating in a contest that challenges you to use the phrase “sex organ” as many times as possible within one paragraph. Three is pretty good, is it not?
The draft isn’t that close, but now that football is officially over, all everyone will talk about is Peyton Manning. Wait … fuck. Screw Peyton Manning. I’ve got nothing against him, and in fact I’d be pretty jazzed if, for some inconceivable reason (sorry Johnny), he chooses to play for the Seattle Seahawks. But that ain’t happening, so let’s move on and talk about the draft and a scenario that I feel is highly likely to unfold.
I tweeted earlier that my gut feels strongly about the Seahawks front office targeting, and drafting, Trent Richardson if given the chance. (Aside from the FO’s intentions, it’s highly likely he’s available at #11/12 overall; there aren’t any really RB-needy teams in the top 12). When I first saw a mock draft some time ago with Trent going to the Seahawks in the first round, I gagged on the shitty, lazy analysis that led to that prediction. Because at first blush, it’s a pretty stupid prediction. I mean – the Seahawks are in desperate need of a QB, multiple pass rushers, and arguably another offensive lineman and interior defensive lineman. They’ve got Marshawn! (sort of). Bees’ Mo’! The guy that defined the word ‘determination’!
Let’s look deeper, shall we? Take my clammy, small hand and I’ll lead you to my creepy-ass cabin in the woods and change your life forever. Yeah – my Seahawks analysis is that good. The Seahawks do need better play at the QB and pass rushing positions, most notably. I don’t think that requires much explanation. But think instead of the most important pieces of the current Seahawks team. If you had to pick the top five most impactful players on the team, who would you chose?
Here’s my list: Earl Thomas, Marshawn Lynch, Russell Okung, Chris Clemons and a toss-up between Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. Now let’s think of the depth players that back up each of those magnificent men. Which position would have the biggest fall off in production? The Seahawks defense on the whole is pretty young and talented; losing any of the defensive players I listed would hurt, but it wouldn’t be a death blow. Okung went down for the season and was replaced by Paul McQuistan who actually did a pretty decent job filling in.
Now that brings us to Marshawn. What happens if he goes down? I’ll give you a hint: it starts with “w” and ends with “e’re fucked”. Take all the time that you need. The Cleveland game is the closest example we’ve got to a Seahawks offense without Marshawn. Granted, a lot of other pieces were missing as well: Tarvaris was still sidelined due to his pec injury; Zach Miller and Max Unger were both injured and inactive as well. But how did Leon Washington and Justin Forsett perform in Lynch’s stead? Dreadfully. They made it quite evident then, and again throughout the season taking snaps here and there, that they aren’t even close to every down backs. They are situational at best, and should not be counted on as injury replacements.
Oh yeah, and Marshawn Lynch is a free agent who will be 26 for the 2012 season. His return, my friends, isn’t guaranteed.
We’re back to now. It’s the day after the Super Bowl. The Seahawks need to pull the trigger on a QB this year. Hasselbeck would have never survived behind the current, young offensive line; Charlie Whitehurst was a failed experiment; Tarvaris Jackson can’t finish games and struggles to make decisions when the game rides on his arm. The offense is young and growing; it should have a young QB growing with it.
It’s unlikely a QB worthy of the #11/12 overall pick will be on the board at that time. The only two guys worthy of consideration at that draft position are Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. So let’s operate under the semi-safe assumption that the Seahawks will not pick a QB with their first pick. They’ll likely then pick a QB in the second round; they’ve been linked to guys like Kirk Cousins (Michigan State) who very well may be available in the early second round. So let’s say the Seahawks draft a developmental, “tier II” QB, like Cousins, in the 2nd round. Now we assume that Tarvaris Jackson acts as a bridge, and said young QB will start in 2013 when Tarvaris’ contract has expired. I think this is all highly possible. Let me know if you think I’m way off base, here.
Marshawn Lynch will be 27 years old when young QB starts his first year as a Seahawk in 2013. How do young QBs fare when starting after one year on the bench? Not usually well. This guy will need a few years to really get going, get a solid grip on the game, and get into his prime. When he starts entering his prime, the Seahawks have the best shot at contention. It’s not often teams with poor QB play win Super Bowls. So let’s pretend that’s three seasons later: 2016. In 2016, Marshawn Lynch will effectively be dead. Who cares what his age will be (fine: he’ll be 30 years old for the 2016 season).
Now rewind a bit: it’s 2012 and the Seahawks are on the clock at the #11/12 pick. Wait … how old will Marshawn be when the QB of the future is in his prime? Oh, right: thirty years old. That’s the pickle. The big, big pickle. And here’s what it all means: Marshawn Lynch is a bridge running back. The likelihood that the Seahawks will be in position to contend with Marshawn Lynch as the young, feature back is very slim, unless some sort of godly quarterback somehow drops into the Seahawks’ lap. Which won’t likely happen.
So, we’re back to draft day. Seahawks are on the clock at #11/12. How old would Trent Richardson be when our QB of the future is in his prime (which we’ve agreed is 2016)? He’d be 26 years old. On a team with a coach that preaches a tough running attack to balance the passing attack. Starting to make sense?
Having a guy like Trent Richardson would give the Seahawks one helluva two-headed monster of a running attack during the ‘bridge’ years. Trent Richardson is a very special running back that is likely to be far and away better than any running back drafted after him this season. Marshawn Lynch’s effective NFL career would be extended, as he’d be occasionally spelled by a talented, tough back like Richardson, and it would ease the pressure on our current QB (Tarvaris Jackson), and help soften the landing for the young QB that starts in 2013.
So where does that leave the pass rush? Chris Clemons can’t do it all himself, after all. Well let’s look at the past two years and the Seahawks sack leaders. How were they attained? Trades and free agency. Chris Clemons was part of a draft day trade; Raheem Brock was signed as a free agent, etc. They have not drafted a defensive end and I don’t expect them to do so this year. The defensive end position has a notoriously high learning curve, and a DE drafted in 2012 likely wouldn’t have much impact in the near future.
I’m not trying to convince you that Trent Richardson is the right choice. I’m sure plenty of you will be firmly against drafting him, seeing as the Seahawks have two huge other gaps that beg to be filled. I’m trying to show you the thought process behind such a decision 1. is logical, 2. is realistic, and 3. matches the types of decisions (and actions) the Seahawks front office have made.
Do I want this scenario to happen? Maybe. Can I see it happening? Absolutely.