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Seahawks' Clever Draft Strategy Yields More Players

The 11 players drafted by the Seahawks are getting ready for rookie camp at the team's headquarters in Renton next weekend, May 12-14.

The Seahawks made a shrewd move to increase the size of their draft class this year. KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel told 88.5's Kirsten Kendrick the team is always full of surprises.

'Clever Fashion'

“They came in it with only seven picks and that was a low in the era of coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider," Thiel said.

"They wanted to get more. And they did it in a pretty clever fashion.

"They managed to trade down from their original position, which was 26th in the first round, to number 35 by making three deals and continuing to move back but accumulating four more picks so they came away with 11 players instead of seven.

"And they still got the guy they say they were after."

First Pick: Malik McDowell

"Malik McDowell [is] from Michigan State," Thiel said. "He's a defensive lineman, 6'6", 295 lbs.

"I'm told that he is a tremendous athletic specimen who would have been probably a top 10 pick if not for some other issues.

"They questioned his motor, which is code for he was lazy. He didn't always play every play out. He took some plays off.

"There were some mitigating circumstances. Michigan State was a 3-9 team last year - not very good. And he had some minor injuries that nagged.

"So, he fell quite a ways in the draft relative to his athletic prowess. The Seahawks say, 'We can fix that.'

"They've made quite a living at finding overlooked players, such as Richard Sherman, who was a fifth-round pick. Kam Chancellor was a fifth-round pick. And Doug Baldwin, the wide receiver, he was not even drafted.

"And, of course, the famous draft was in 2012 when they got [quarterback] Russell Wilson in the third round."

Why A Defensive Lineman First?

Thiel said it was a bit of a surprise that the Seahawks went for a defensive lineman first when they were really looking for safeties and cornerbacks.

"It wasn't necessarily an area of need," he said. "But if you look back to the Seahawks' 2013 season when they went to the Super Bowl and won, they had a great rotation of defensive linemen starting with Brandon Mebane.

"And they were able to bring in fresh legs in the three- and sometimes four-man rotation that really was a difference maker in stopping the run.

"That's what they were after for this guy [McDowell]. He could also block some passes at 6'6" so they're really looking at him as a rare talent that they wanted to seize."

New Seahawk: Mike Tyson

"They also did, in this draft, pick up a lot of defensive back help, including the guy who has my favorite name in the Seahawks draft - Mike Tyson! No it's not that Mike Tyson [the boxer]," Thiel joked.

He noted that Tyson is a defensive back from Cincinnati who has the physical dimensions to play cornerback. His grandfather, father and son are all named Mike Tyson as well.

Sherman Still A Seahawk

Speaking of cornerbacks, Thiel said there's been no movement on the trade rumors that were swirling around Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman a few weeks ago.

"They didn't find adequate compensation prior to the draft," he said. "That would've been the time if they really did want to move a disgruntled player was to do it before the draft. But somewhere along the way Carroll and Sherman have to work this out."

From Refugee To Wide Receiver

Thiel said another new Seahawks players is Amara Darboh, a wide receiver from Michigan who was picked in the third round.

"He's got a great backstory. He was born in Sierra Leone in West Africa. They were having an incredible civil war and his parents were killed when he was only 2.

"He and his 13 siblings were refugees in neighboring countries. He immigrated to Iowa where a family adopted him and many of his siblings.

"It's really a remarkable story. He's a very bright kid.

"When he talked to us on teleconference you can tell that this was a pinnacle achievement for a kid who's come a long, long way.

"And it's a great American story in a time when immigration and refugees are a big part of the political discussion."

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You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest and

Kirsten Kendrick hosts Morning Edition on KNKX and the sports interview series "Going Deep," talking with folks tied to sports in our region about what drives them — as professionals and people.
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.