Sportsball: The Seahawks, the Draft, and the Myth of Infallibility

The Seahawks added nine players during the NFL draft last weekend. Here’s a transcript of ESPN’s draft telecast whenever the Hawks made a pick:

Analyst 1: “[Name of player] wasn’t expected to be taken until later in the draft.”

Analyst 2: “Yes, I had him ranked much lower than this.”

Analyst 1: “But it’s the Seahawks, so they must know what they’re doing!”

After building a Super Bowl champion through the draft—making a number of questionable moves like the ones they did this year—the Seahawks’ infallibility level has reached “Pope.” This year the Hawks picked offensive tackle Justin Britt 64th overall; ESPN ranked him 215th. But the TV analysts were so cowed by the Seahawks’ drafting success, you didn’t hear a peep of criticism. The Hawks could’ve taken Bo the White House Dog.

Analyst 1: “No Portuguese Water Dog has ever played in the NFL.”

Analyst 2: “Scouts tell me that Bo may struggle due to his lack of arms.”

Analyst 1: “But it’s the Seahawks, so they must know what they’re doing!”

Not since the grunge era has Seattle’s judgment been valued so highly. Back then, clueless music executives flooded Pioneer Square, trying to figure out how the Northwest’s music was crushing New York’s and SoCal’s. Clueless football executives might start doing the same.

Thing is, the trick to the Seahawks’ draft success is no-brainer math: The more picks you have, the better your chances of getting a good player. The Hawks’ nine picks this year were more than all but 5 other NFL teams. Once again, the Hawks bet on quantity over their own infallibility.

In draft after draft, Pete Carroll and John Schneider trade down, amassing more than their share of picks. They know they aren’t infallible. Last year the Seahawks made the most egregious error of the draft—fourth-round pick Chris Harper. Picked 123rd overall, Harper was the highest-drafted player in the league to be cut.

The Hawks struck out on Harper, and on Ryan Seymour (220th overall), Ty Powell (231st) and Jared Smith (241st) too—Seymour and Powell got cut and Smith didn’t play a down. But Michael Bowie, picked 242nd overall, started 9 games, including the playoff win over the Saints. Was it the Seahawks’ genius to find a playoff-worthy starter in the final round of the draft? No, it was the fact that they held more cards in the NFL’s annual game of bingo.

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