If the Seattle Seahawks are going to rejoin the ranks of the NFL’s elite teams, they’re going to have to do it through the draft.
Their 2017 class looks as if it could be a good start, though the uncertainty with top pick Malik McDowell’s health makes it impossible to count on Seattle ever getting anything from him.
EAST CENTRAL OKLAHOMA UNIV
Best rookie: Running back Chris Carson (seventh round) might have had a case for this distinction had he not gone down with a season-ending leg/ankle injury a month after winning the starting job out of training camp. The nod instead goes to cornerback Shaquill Griffin (third), who started for most of the season on the right side and looked as if he belongs there for good. There’s room for improvement, to be sure. Griffin was occasionally beaten deep, which is a cardinal sin as far as coach Pete Carroll is concerned, but he showed more than enough to believe that he can become a mainstay in Seattle’s defense. Defensive tackle Nazair Jones (third) also showed promise before his rookie season was cut short by a high-ankle sprain. Carson looks like a starter as long as he can stay healthy.
Most improved rookie: The Seahawks considered Ethan Pocic the most versatile offensive lineman in last year’s draft, which was one reason they chose him in the second round. With his ability to play multiple positions, it was somewhat surprising that Pocic wasn’t playing early in the season despite a few openings in the starting lineup. But he eventually took over at left guard when Luke Joeckel needed surgery, starting five games there before moving to right guard for the final six once Joeckel returned. Pocic seemed to be settling in by season’s end. He says he wants to add 15-20 pounds during the offseason after playing at under 300 at times in 2017. Where he’ll play next season isn’t entirely certain. Joeckel will be an unrestricted free agent and Germain Ifedi struggled in his first season at right tackle.
Most disappointing rookie: No doubt about this one. The Seahawks chose McDowell in the second round with the belief that he could make an immediate impact as a rotational pass-rusher. ESPN
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