Seattle Seahawks get their man

Published on May 2, 2011 by     Seahawks.Com News (Feed)

The Seahawks had other options when it came time to make the 25th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night, but none were more attractive than Alabama tackle James Carpenter.

James Carpenter wasn’t the sexiest pick the Seahawks could have made with the 25th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night. He wasn’t the most obvious, either.

But the physical and aggressive tackle from Alabama was the right choice, and the one the Seahawks were hoping to make to acquire a player who is their likely starter at right tackle – opposite Russell Okung, the left tackle who was the team’s top draft choice last year. Carpenter also has versatility, as he played left tackle, left guard and right tackle during the Senior Bowl practices in January.

James Carpenter, OT, Alabama 

Pick: 25th overall

Pertinent numbers: 6-4, 321; started all 27 games at left tackle the past two seasons for the Crimson Tide after playing at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College his first two seasons.

What he brings: Another big body for an injury-ravaged offensive line that used 10 starting combinations last season. Long-limbed and light on his feet, he also was extremely durable while not missing a game at Alabama or Coffeyville. He played left tackle, left guard and right tackle at the Senior Bowl practices in January.

Where he fits: At right tackle, where incumbent starter Sean Locklear is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. Paired with left tackle Russell Okung, last year’s top draft choice, Carpenter could provide new O-line coach Tom Cable with bookend tackles for seasons to come.

What they’re saying: “I liked him right from the very beginning. I didn’t see anything that deterred me along the way. The more we looked at his background and really did your research on the guy, it just kept coming up that this is the right guy for what we’re going to try and do.” – offensive line coach Tom Cable

What he’s saying: “It was crazy. I was so shocked. I thought I was going to go in the second (round). But somebody had faith in me. I’m glad. I’m glad to be a Seattle Seahawk.” – Carpenter, on his Draft Day experience

“It’s such a great pick for us to get right now,” second-year coach Pete Carroll said. “It’s not as exciting as the flashy receiver or something like that. But at this stage of our program we think it’s really important to get hardnosed, tough guys that can come in here and really help us out.

“So we’re thrilled about this pick.”

While Carroll was thrilled, Carpenter was somewhat shocked because even he was expecting to be taken in the second round on Friday.

Despite his second-day expectations, Carpenter was watching the draft on TV at home in Georgia and anticipating seeing the name of former teammate and Heisman Trophy winning running back Mark Ingram called. But it was Carpenter who went ahead of Ingram, who was drafted three spots later by the New Orleans Saints at No. 28.

“I was watching, because I wanted to support my teammates,” Carpenter said. “Mark is a real great player. I’m good myself. But I was surprised wasn’t taken before that, because he’s a real good player.”

Marcell Dareus, the Crimson Tide’s defensive tackle, was the third pick in the first round by the Buffalo Bills.

Ingram was just one of the players the Seahawks passed on to select Carpenter. Also still on the board were Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith, Clemson defensive end DaQuan Bowers, Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi and TCU quarterback Andy Dalton.

But Carpenter was the choice, because he fills a need and was the Seahawks’ top-rated player when it came time to make the 25th pick.

General manager John Schneider had been very blunt about wanting to trade back and possibly recoup the third-round pick the Seahawks sent to the San Diego Chargers last year in the deal for quarterback Charlie Whitehurst

Schneider had conversations with teams, as the Seahawks used their entire 10-minute allotment before turning in Carpenter’s name.

“We got close on two things, quite frankly,” he said. “And we had one to make a decision on.”

In the end, however, “It just wasn’t anything that was worthy of making a move,” as Carroll put it. Especially because Carpenter was available.

“We’re really fired up that this worked out the way it did,” he added.

Asked to provide a scouting report on himself, Carpenter offered these strengths, “I think it’s being tough and being able to move my feet quicker. I think I’m both finesse and aggressive. I’m very aggressive.”

Carroll augmented that self-assessment, offering, “This guy is a road-grader. He’s a guy who comes off the football with great leverage, his feet are flying, he wants to bury you, he wants to demonstrate the attitude and the toughness in the style he plays.

“He fits the way we want to bring our program along. … This kid is a kid that can come in here and be a big-time starter for us.”

Tom Cable, the team’s first-year line coach, balked when someone suggested that Carpenter is a finesse player.

“I wouldn’t have drafted him if he was finesse. That’s not my style,” Cable said. “He’s a big, massive guy with a lot of length and a lot of power. So we upgraded ourselves in terms of toughness and getting some mass on the offensive line.

“It just kept coming up that this was the right guy for what we’re going to try and do.”

Carpenter originally signed with Iowa State out of Hephzibah (Ga.) High School. But he went to Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College because he was academically ineligible.

So what made him pick Alabama? “Because of winning,” he said. “I wanted to win. And I knew coach (Nick) Saban and (line coach Joe) Pendry were going to get me to be the best I can. Obviously, that’s what they did.”

No one was happier about that Thursday night than Carroll, and Cable, and Schneider.

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