The Seattle Seahawks have probably taken more than their fair share of lumps during the course of their uneven 36-year existence. The inconsistency that seems to be a hallmark of the Seahawks throughout their history is no better represented than in the results of their drafting through the years. There are certainly plenty of busts; from Dan McGuire to Rick Mirer, there have been plenty of terrible picks that set the team back years. But for every one of the colossal busts, there are also some great players from 2012 Hall of Fame inductee Cortez Kennedy, to former league MVP Shaun Alexander, there’s been plenty to celebrate.
10.LB Lofa Tatupu
Tatupu only played six seasons with the Seahawks, but he definitely left his mark and is arguably the best linebacker to ever put on the blue and green. Tatupu was drafted in the second round of the 2005 Draft, and at the time the pick was widely criticized; he was viewed as too small and too slow to be an effective linebacker at the pro level. Tatupu quickly disproved the theory of needing elite measurables to be not just an effective player, but a bonafide star in the NFL. Tatupu was a key cog in the Seahawks' 2005 Super Bowl season, and he was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2005, 2006, and 2007 and was an All-Pro in 2007. Tatupu ended his Seahawks' career with 543 tackles, 8.5 sacks, and 10 INTs.
9. WR Brian Blades
Blades was one of the few hits the Seahawks seemingly made in the 1980s in terms of drafting, as he still stands as the second-leading receiver in Seahawks history behind Steve Largent. Drafted in the second round of the 1988 NFL Draft out of the University of Miami, Blades quickly established himself as an important piece of the offense, racking up 8 TDs in his rookie season as a part-time starter and collecting the first of his four 1,000-yard seasons in his second year. Blades was an All Pro during his only Pro Bowl season, 1989; he ended all 11 seasons of his NFL career with Seattle, totaling 581 receptions and 7,620 yards.
8. OG Steve Hutchinson
Throughout the team’s history, the Seahawks were usually viewed as a soft “finesse” style team; after Hutchinson was drafted in 2001, that perception began to change. Hutchinson brought a nasty streak to playing on the offensive line, and during his five seasons with the Seahawks, he helped anchor a left side with perennial All-Pro LT Walter Jones that was the envy of the league. An All-Pro and Pro Bowler from 2003-2005, Hutchinson was a key element in the success of the RB Shaun Alexander, who was named league MVP during the 2005 Super Bowl season. Hutchinson’s tenure with the Seahawks ended on a sour note, as he left the team after the Super Bowl and signed with the Minnesota Vikings due to the Seahawks making a Transition Tag gaffe, allowing the Vikings to steal away the All-Pro guard.
7. RB Curt Warner
Had injuries not derailed his promising career, Warner very likely would have finished in the top 3 on this list of Seahawks' draft picks. Drafted third overall in the 1983 Draft, Warner came to Seattle with a ton of promise that looked like it would be fulfilled right from the start; on his first NFL carry, Warner scooted for 60 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs. Warner rushed for 1,449 yards and 13 touchdowns as a rookie in 1983, and added 325 more yards and another TD on 42 receptions. Unfortunately, Warner tore his ACL in the season opener in 1984, and even though his best season was yet to come (1986 – 1,481 yards, 13 TDs), he was never quite as explosive as he showed his rookie year. Warner was a 3-time Pro Bowler (1983, 1986, 1987) and was an All-Pro in 1987.
6. DE Michael Sinclair
The latest draft pick on this list, Sinclair was drafted in the sixth round of the 1991 Draft out of tiny Eastern New Mexico. Players like Sinclair are why NFL scouts now spend a lot of time looking at the small colleges for those draft day steals in the late rounds. Sinclair did take a while to truly make his mark, as he did not become a regular starter for the Seahawks until 1995; once becoming a starter, he became an important cog to a much improved defense. Sinclair was the regular leader in sacks for the team from 1996-1998, culminating with 16.5 sacks in 1998, which was good enough to lead the NFL. Sinclair was a Pro Bowler from 1996-1998, was second team All-Pro in 1998, and ended his career as the second all-time leader for the Seahawks in sacks with 73.5.
5. DE Jacob Green
Green was the Seahawks’ first pick of the 1980s and was their best pick so far in their brief history at that point. Drafted in the first round of the 1980 Draft out of Texas A&M, Green was an anchoring stalwart along the defensive line right from the get-go, becoming a regular starter his rookie year and starting most every game during the 1980s and into the early 90s. Green became known as one of the most feared pass rushers in the AFC at that time; he registered at least 9 sacks in 7of a possible 10 seasons (sacks weren’t kept as an official record until 1982). Green was a two-time Pro Bowl selection (1986-1987), an All-Pro (1983), and at the time of his retirement, 3rd
on the All-Time sack list, behind only Reggie White and Lawrence Taylor. His unofficial sack total of 116 is currently still good enough to make the top 15 career sacks list.
4. S Kenny Easley
Outside of Cortez Kennedy, Easley is often mentioned as the best defensive player to ever wear a Seahawks uniform. Drafted out of UCLA as the fourth overall pick in the 1981 Draft, Easley was a starter at the Strong Safety position for Seattle right from the start of his rookie season. While tackles weren’t kept as an official stat for the duration of Easley’s career, he was considered one of the team’s best tacklers during that time and always was around the ball. Easley was the AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1981, was the AFC Defensive Player of the Year in 1983, a Pro Bowl selection from 1982-1985 and again in 1987, and was an All-Pro from 1982-1985. Easley was named to the NFL’s 1980s All-Decade Team; unfortunately his career was cut short by a kidney disease diagnosis in 1987. Had he continued his strong play for a few more years, he likely would have been a Hall of Famer.
3. RB Shaun Alexander
Alexander was drafted in the first round of the 2000 Draft out of the University of Alabama and is considered the best Seahawks' draft pick of the 2000s, hands down. Backing up Ricky Watters his rookie year, it wasn’t until 2001 that Alexander got his shot as a starting NFL running back, and never looked back. From 2001-2005, Alexander never had fewer than 353 touches, fewer than 1,645 total yards, or fewer than 16 touchdowns, making for one of the most prolific five-year runs for a running back in NFL history. Alexander’s many accolades include 3 Pro Bowls (2003-2005), 2 All Pro seasons (2004-2005), 2-time NFL rushing champion (2004-2005), NFL Offensive Player of the Year (2005), NFL MVP (2005), and former single-season touchdown record holder (28 TDs – 2005). Alexander ended his run with the Seahawks as their all-time leading rusher, with 10,940 total yards, and 112 total TDs.
2. LT Walter Jones
For all the success that Shaun Alexander had, he arguably wouldn’t be anywhere near as high on this list as he is without the play of one of the best left tackles in recent league history, Walter Jones. Jones was drafted sixth overall in the 1997 draft out of Florida State, and remarkably started every game he ever played in, starting with the first game of his rookie season. Jones not only was a crushing road grader on running plays, but he was a superb technician in the pass protection game as well. Jones is a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer as one of the most decorated linemen in NFL history. Jones was a 9-time Pro Bowl selection (1999, 2001-2008), a 7-time All-Pro (2001, 2002, 2004-2008), NFL Offensive Lineman of the Year (2005), First Team All-Rookie (1997), and was named to the NFL’s 2000’s All-Decade Team. When Jones retired in 2010, his #71 jersey was retired by the team; only the second player to receive that honor (#80, Steve Largent).
1. DT Cortez Kennedy
As decorated as Jones was during his Seahawks career, there is one Seahawk who’s resume shines just a little bit brighter; Cortez Kennedy. Drafted out of the University of Miami as the third overall pick of the 1990 NFL Draft, Kennedy was the most formidable interior defensive lineman of his era. He was an instant force for Seattle, becoming a regular part of the defensive rotation his rookie year, and then a starter for every single game from 1991-1996. Keep in mind, this was one of the worst eras in Seattle history, going 36-60 with a revolving door of head coaches. Even though he played on terrible teams, Kennedy was a perennial Pro-Bowler; in fact, in 1992 Kennedy was selected as the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, even though the Seahawks were a league worst 2-14. Kennedy ended his tenure with the Seahawks having played his entire career with the team, collecting 668 tackles, 58 sacks, and 3 INTs.
Kennedy was an 8-time Pro Bowl selection (1991-1999), was a 3-time All Pro (1992-1994), was the 1992 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, was named to the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade Team, and was finally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.