Hope resurfacing in Seattle following NFL draft

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:36 AM ET

Shaun Alexander and that run to Super Bowl XL in 2006 are distant memories, but they’re building new ones out in Seattle these days.

Hope is alive and well again in Seahawks land and it comes in the form of a new general manager and head coach who came out of draft weekend the toast of the NFL.

John Schneider and Pete Carroll are being lauded as the big winners of the 2010 NFL draft this past weekend. Carroll’s firsthand knowledge of the college ranks combined with Schneider’s willingness to take bold, albeit low-cost gambles, has helped the Seahawks overhaul what was a roster of question marks.

The worry with Carroll heading into the weekend was his love of all things USC would cloud his better judgment and leave the Seahawks looking like an older version of the Trojans.

That didn’t happen.

Even with the opportunity to take USC standout safety Taylor Mays, the Hawks went the other way and grabbed Earl Thomas out of Texas.

It didn’t make Mays happy — he pouted — but it gave Carroll some needed separation from his former employers.

He still got a USC tight end later in the draft and signed three more undrafted Trojans at the conclusion of the draft — but the cost was negligible.

The argument can be made that the strong draft by the Seahawks was as much about where they were positioned as what they knew.

To a degree that is also true. But provided the opportunity to grab left tackle Russell Okung, the aforementioned Thomas, and Jimmy Clausen’s former favourite target at Notre Dame Golden Tate, the Hawks snapped up all three.

That’s the top-ranked tackle, and the second-ranked wide receiver and safety in the entire draft.

No reaches.

No off-the-board picks.

Just sound, solid, draft strategy.

If only Bills GM Buddy Nix were so consistent.

The critics still point to the Seahawks’ failure to address their need for a pass rusher, but so be it. No one is saying they were perfect and Rome wasn’t build in a day.

The genius of the day though may have been in the low-risk gambles the Hawks in the final rounds of the draft.

For the small price of seven spots in the fourth round and nine spots in the sixth, the Hawks got LenDale White from Tennessee, not to mention defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson.

Schneider then turned around and sent a fifth rounder to the Jets for Leon Washington.

Anyone who watched Julius Jones and Justin Forsett run the ball for Seattle last season had to be smiling when these trades were made.

They’re not sure-fire wins, however. There has been plenty of talk about White’s weight issues. And Washington is coming off not one but two compound fractures in his lower leg from last season.

There’s no guarantee he comes back to form or at all given the nature of that injury.

Still it has Seattle back on the NFL map and for that alone Carroll and Schneider should be doing cartwheels.

At the half

Brian Westbrook has reportedly passed his physical with the St. Louis Rams and is now thinking over a return to football. One of the classy guys in a league where class is sometimes hard to come by, here’s hoping Westbrook thinks this over long and hard. He’s already had more concussions than should have been allowed to happen and his knee problems aren’t going to get any better playing on that carpet in St. Louis ... Sports Illustrated columnist Peter King has to find a new favourite story from the 2010 draft. His initial pick, New Hampshire senior TE Scott Sicko turning down five NFL post-draft offers to attend training camp to stick with his studies, did an about face on Tuesday. The Dallas Cowboys, after being initially turned down, finally convinced Sicko to sign and come to camp. Sicko says it doesn’t mean he’s giving up on his love of history, just that he’s going to try and do both ... Tennessee Titans fans should be a little concerned. Running back Chris Johnson has not only skipped the off-season conditioning program, which he did last season as well, but Tuesday failed to show for the Organized Team Activities and has pledged to skip Wednesday’s as well. Johnson wants a new deal, more in line with a guy who rushes for 2,000 yards.

Fourth and inches

Making the rounds was a story that Cowboys selection Dez Bryant was asked during one of his pre-draft interviews if his mom was a prostitute. The man doing the asking was reportedly Miami GM Jeff Ireland. Ireland confirmed the story Tuesday and apologized to Bryant for his “poor judgment” ... Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. That appears to be the Bears’ thinking when it comes to recently released guard Alan Faneca. Faneca, at 33, is the same age that Orlando Pace was when he signed last year with Chicago, a signing the Bears eventually regretted. Faneca was cut by the Jets when he refused to take a pay cut. Faneca ended up signing a one-year deal with Arizona Tuesday night. ... The Bears made other news on Tuesday, picking up starting strong safety Chris Harris from Carolina. The Panthers get reserve linebacker Jamar Williams in the deal, while Harris returns to Chicago less than three years after he was traded to Carolina. The Panthers were willing to say bye to Harris because, well, he stunk last season ... Another JaMarcus Russell-to-be-cut report — this time from John Clayton of ESPN who says it will probably happen this week. The Raiders will save $6.45 million if they send the Russell packing ... Bears QB Jay Cutler tells the Chicago Tribune that wideout diva Terrell Owens might not be a great fit in the Windy City. “T.O. is a pretty good player, but for this system . . . I don’t know how he would fit in,” Cutler said. “Our receiver position, I think, is one of the strengths of the team. I think there are other needs that we could have addressed if we didn’t go that direction.” Shocker, a QB lobbies against signing T.O.


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