Seattle Seahawks offensive line/assistant head coach Tom Cable got his man Thursday night in the opening round of this year’s draft.
Cable was looking for another anchor for an offensive line that had 10 different starting offensive line combinations in 2010 to pair with the team’s No. 6 overall selection last year, left tackle Russell Okung.
And he found one in Alabama offensive lineman James Carpenter, whom Seattle selected with the No. 25 overall pick.
Projected as a second-round prospect by most draft analysts, the Seahawks selected Carpenter over other more highly-rated offensive tackle prospects on the board – including Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi and Mississippi State’s Derek Sherrod – because they believe the Alabama prospect will add an element of aggressiveness and nastiness to the offensive line, having been groomed under the demanding Nick Saban for the Crimson Tide.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that Carpenter is expected to start at right tackle Day 1 for the Seahawks.
“”This guy’s a road grader,” Carroll said. “He’s a guy who comes off the football with great leverage. His feet are flying. He wants to bury you to demonstrate the attitude, the style and the toughness that he plays with.
“And the fact that he’s versatile, that’s another element that adds to it. He fits the way we want to bring our program along.”
General manager John Schneider said the team had a chance to move down. The team worked three potential deals, with two falling away and one on the table that they passed on.
Schneider had said before the draft that he would have liked to trade down out of the No. 25 overall pick in order to pick up more picks later in the draft.
At 6-4, 321 pounds, Carpenter has the versatility to play both tackle and guard. He initially accepted an offer to Iowa State but did not qualify academically, and the Cyclones sent him to Coffeyville Community College in Kansas, where he played two seasons. Carpenter then transferred to Alabama, where he started immediately filling in at left tackle, starting 27 games for the Crimson Tide and earning All-SEC honors from the coaches his senior season.
Carpenter helped pave the way for Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, who was selected three picks after him at No. 28 to New Orleans.
“I’m mentally tough,” Carpenter said. “I just play hard. I do my best to get the job done, and I know that football is a tough sport. So that’s what I do.”
Some questioned Seattle selecting Carpenter with Carimi and Sherrod still on the board, but Schneider said that Carpenter was the right pick.
“I would say to the fans that they should take reassurance in the fact that we’ve been busting out tail since last May covering this guy, and that we spent countless hours probably the last, eight weekends in a row just evaluating this thing, and this guy’s never changed.
Cable had an interesting response when told that draft analyst Mike Mayock of the NFL Network described Carpenter as a “finesse tackle.”
“I wouldn’t have drafted him if he was finesse,” he said. “That’s not my style. … I didn’t see anything that deterred me along the way, and the more you looked at his background and really did your research on the guy, it just kept coming up that this is right for what we’re trying to do.”
–Coming into this year’s draft, the Seahawks wanted to get bigger and more physical along the offensive line and faster defensively.
Head coach Pete Carroll appeared to accomplish those tasks with his nine picks over the draft weekend.
Seattle used its early draft picks to shore up deficiencies in the offensive line, selecting Alabama offensive tackle James Carpenter No. 25 overall, and then trading down from the team’s No. 57 overall pick with Detroit to the third round, and picking up a fourth-round pick in the process.
The Seahawks used Detroit’s third-round pick at No. 75 overall to select Wisconsin offensive guard John Moffitt. Both Moffitt and Carpenter are projected to be Seattle’s Day 1 starters at right guard and right tackle.
Seattle switched to the defensive side of the ball during the final day of the draft. Seattle drafted outside linebacker K.J. Wright of Mississippi State (fourth round) and Malcolm Smith of Southern California (seventh round), big cover corners in Stanford’s Richard Sherman (fifth round) and Clemson’s Byron Maxwell (sixth round), and Louisiana State defensive end Lazarius “Pep” Levingston in the seventh round.
Seattle’s most surprising pick was drafting Georgia receiver Kris Durham. Projected by some draft analysts as an undrafted free agent, the Seahawks took Durham in the fourth round, and see the 6-5, 216 pounder developing into a solid pro behind current starter at split end Mike Williams.
Offensive tackle James Carpenter: The quiet, no-nonsense Carpenter was an All-SEC performer as voted by the coaches, and gives Seattle an aggressive, nasty run blocker.
Free safety Mark LeGree: A three-time All-American in Football Championship Subdivision play, the Appalachian State product has great ball-hawking skills, evidenced by his 22 career interceptions.
A closer look at the Seahawks’ picks:
Round 1/25 – James Carpenter, OT, 6-4, 321, Alabama
Some draft analysts projected Carpenters as a second-round pick, but he’s a perfect fit for the tough, aggressive approach of offensive line coach Tom Cable.
Round 3/75 – John Moffitt, OG, 6-4, 319, Wisconsin
The Seahawks like his leadership skills, intelligence and ability to get a push inside in the run game.
Round 4/99 – K.J. Wright, OLB, 6-3, 246, Mississippi State
A versatile linebacker who can play both weak-side and strong-side linebacker.
Round 4/107 – Kris Durham, WR, 6-5, 216, Georgia
Only finished with 65 total career catches for the Bulldogs, but Seattle likes his upside and big-play potential.
Round 5/154 – Richard Sherman, CB, 6-2, 195, Stanford
Sherman only played two years at cornerback for the Cardinal, but the Seahawks like his length and athleticism.
Round 5/156 – Mark LeGree, FS, 6-0, 211, Appalachian State
Small school prospect can play both strong and free safety. Ran a 4.46 in the 40-yard dash, posted a 36-inch vertical leap and benched pressed 225 pounds 19 times on his pro day.
Round 6/173 – Byron Maxwell, CB, 6-1, 200, Penn State
Another rangy corner with bump-and-run skills in Maxwell.
Round 7/205 — Lazarius “Pep” Levingston, DE, 6-4, 293, Louisiana State
The Seahawks grab a defensive end to serve as depth behind Red Bryant, who finished on injured reserve last year with a knee injury.
Round 7/242 – Malcolm Smith, LB, 6-0, 226, Southern California
The younger brother of Carolina receiver Steve Smith, the Seahawks like his speed and ability to cover running backs in passing situations.