Somewhere, Russell Wilson surely uttered a sincere thank you on Thursday night.
The Seahawks quarterback had spent a lot of time getting chased, harassed and abused by savage defenders — especially at the start of last season when the Hawks were still trying to figure out ways to spackle up a leaky offensive line.
The Seahawks’ front office did something about it in the first round of the NFL draft, calling for help from Texas A&M tackle Germain Ifedi, whom they selected after trading down from No. 26 to No. 31.
Ifedi is nearly 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds. He played right tackle in college, and that appears to be a good fit for him in Seattle, where last year’s right tackle, Garry Gilliam, has been flopped over to the left side.
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Asked what motivates him, Ifedi gave an answer that coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider will love. “I like to win, I like to compete,” Ifedi said. “I’m all about that competition.”
Yes, it sounded for a moment as if he were going to say “I’m all about that action, boss.”
“In football,” he said. “You beat your man or you lose; I learned at an early age that losing doesn’t feel good.”
It was a surprisingly predictable pick for the Seahawks, who have used the annual draft to confound critics and mock the mock-draft compilers. They traded down, as they’re prone to do, but stayed in the first round to land their first first-round offensive lineman since taking James Carpenter in 2011.
The first round was a weird endeavor, with heartbreaks, surprises and reminders of the profound and pernicious effects of anti-social media.
Mississippi tackle Laremy Tunsil watched his day turn sour when someone hacked into his Twitter account and uploaded a video of him smoking a bong through a gas mask. NFL teams backed off, and he plummeted to No. 13 and was taken by Miami.
Another Mississippi player, defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, also took a nosedive for character-related reasons. Once considered a top pick before being linked to a variety of off-field nefariousness, was still looming on the board as the Hawks’ pick neared.
But Arizona drafted Nkemdiche, bringing another tough defender to a division opponent.
This made it all the more important for the Seahawks to address the offensive line, which lost starting tackle Russell Okung and guard J.R. Sweezy.
Schneider said that when he went for early meetings with scouts, he was convincingly urged to draft Ifedi. And that made him the man they had targeted all along, Schneider said.
The long-armed Ifedi is smart and highly competitive with an attitude of toughness.
“Nasty,” he called him. For a tackle, that’s a compliment.
But when he chatted on a conference call after his pick, Ifedi was a charmer. Getting into the league, he said, is not his ultimate goal, but just another step.
Waiting until the 31st pick was frustrating, Ifedi said. And when Schneider called him, he didn’t want to get too excited. “I didn’t know if it was a bill collector.”
Good line. No, it was far from a bill collector. It was the man who was going to sign his checks.
By trading back five spots, the Hawks picked up an additional third-round pick (No. 94). Because they wanted Ifedi all along, that seems like they created a free pick out of the ether.
They have nine more picks in the next two days, and don’t be surprised if they keep adding more offensive linemen.
When it’s so obvious that the most valuable commodity in an NFL franchise is a talented quarterback who can stay healthy and spry — a player like Russell Wilson — it’s only shrewd to protect him.
Somewhere Thursday night, Wilson expressed appreciation for that recognition.