Seahawks trying nasty as building-block mortar

Published on May 8, 2011 by     Tacoma News Tribune (Feed)

Any of you Seahawks fans remember the game against Arizona two years ago when Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett slammed quarterback Matt Hasselbeck down and ground his elbow into his throat?

Do you remember how many offensive linemen rushed to his defense?

None. Zero. Not only was Hasselbeck sacked, but he was also abused.

I’m betting the Seahawks no longer will have such a group of gentlemen and pacifists operating up front.

For the second straight day, when analysts heard the name of a Seattle Seahawks draft pick, the first adjective used to describe him was “nasty.”

Anybody who watched the Seahawks the past couple years knows the team was in perilous short supply of nasty.

Because of it, the Seahawks have been unable to run the football or sustain drives. Or keep guys’ elbows out of their quarterback’s throat.

So many times, when faced with third-and-short, the Hawks got jammed at the line by bigger and stronger defensive fronts.

General manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll promised to use the draft to beef up the offensive line. In the first three rounds of the NFL draft, these guys are staying true to that vision.

It started Thursday night with the pick of Alabama tackle James Carpenter with the 25th overall selection, and continued Friday when they traded out of the second round to stock up another pick and take Wisconsin guard John Moffitt in the third round.

Carpenter is 321 pounds. Moffitt is listed at 314 but said he’s 320 and can bulk up from there if necessary.

Some fans might not see the appeal of taking offensive linemen with the team’s first two picks of this year’s draft, but it’s absolutely essential for establishing a solid foundation for the franchise.

Two years ago, the Hawks used a second-rounder on center/guard Max Unger, and last year used the No. 6 overall pick for left tackle Russell Okung.

Please remember that when the Seahawks were at their best, making it to Super Bowl XL, it was because they had the best offensive line in the league, rushing for 144 yards a game.

Last year, Carroll was mortified by the team’s inability to run, finishing 31st – second to last – in the league in rushing (89 yards a game).

On the phone Friday after the selection, Moffitt was asked of his attributes. Physical play, he said. In addition, though, he’s smart and versatile, having also played center.

Having started 42 games at Wisconsin, he was penalized only twice during his career. Strength? He won the Connecticut state heavyweight weight-lifting championship in high school.

New line coach Tom Cable confessed his delight at the attention the line received thus far. “We brought our level of competition way up,” he said. “Both guys bring an attitude that fits what we’re looking for … they’re real purpose-driven.”

Schneider was more direct about Moffitt: “He’s an ass-kicker.”

Schneider asked Cable for his best-case wish list a couple weeks ago. Cable told him Carpenter and Moffitt. And so it is.

Carroll said that Moffitt’s tough-guy attitude is much like Carpenter’s.

“He isn’t backing down from nothing,” Carroll said of Moffitt. “He comes off the line with tremendous force.”

Schneider traded with the Lions, moving down 18 spots to add a fourth-round pick and move up slightly in the fifth and seventh rounds.

Trading down is an example of trusting your draft board. You scout them, grade them, assess their value, and when your time comes, you take the best player. But not if there’s nobody worth it.

It takes some conviction to trade backward when you have a roster in such need of talent upgrades. But the reward is getting more picks later, where you can pick players who have the commensurate value.

Today, they have seven more draft picks.

Fans might second-guess the early part of this draft for the Hawks.

But the picks of the linemen show they’re not opting for quick-fixes, they’re following their philosophy on how to construct a franchise.

And that’s a sign that the front office is purpose-driven, too.

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