Seattle Seahawks

COMMENTARY: Tate, Thomas give Seattle two of the draft's most exciting playmakers

RENTON - Really, Friday was a relatively quiet day for the Seattle Seahawks. After all, for an enterprise in such state of disrepair, adding only one new player seems like a meager contribution.

But two days into the 2010 NFL draft, the Seahawks seem much improved already.

By taking Notre Dame receiver Golden Tate in the second round on Friday, in addition to tackle Russell Okung and safety Earl Thomas in the first round on Thursday, the Seahawks landed perhaps the best offensive lineman in the draft and two of the most impressive playmakers – one on each side of the ball.

Big plays? Tate had nine catches for 244 yards against the Washington Huskies last season.

On defense? Thomas’ eight interceptions for Texas last year matched the Seahawks’ entire total of interceptions in 15 games last season (not counting the five-pick game against Detroit rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford). Tate won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top collegiate receiver with 93 catches for almost 1,500 yards.

First-rounders Okung and Thomas will be plugged in immediately; Okung taking over for Walter Jones at left tackle, and Thomas being turned loose to play a ballhawking “center field” as free safety.

Tate should be easy to get on the field, too. In a phone interview Friday, Tate said he intended to quickly learn all the receiver positions to give the coaches as many options as possible to throw him in there.

He called himself the kind of player who can turn a 6-yard slant into an 80-yard touchdown. It’s been a while since the Hawks have had a receiver who was a genuine threat after the catch.

Coach Pete Carroll said Tate also will be tried as a return man.

To me, he looks like Carolina receiver Steve Smith, except that Tate is a smidge bigger.

“This is truly a touchdownmaker ,” Carroll said of Tate. The early plan is to get him the ball on the move to exploit his talents running after the catch.

The Hawks had only one pick Friday after having traded away this year’s third-round pick to move up and draft Penn State receiver Deon Butler last year. They’ve already given away next year’s third rounder in the deal with San Diego for backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst.

Another element in the Whitehurst trade was moving down 20 spots in today’s second round – from 40 to 60.

How much did that cost the Hawks? I think they might have been content to get a player like Tate at No. 40.

Until Whitehurst gets a chance to prove himself, his cost will be debated by Seahawks fans. He will turn 28 in August, and has never completed a pass in the NFL regular season. And if things go as hoped, he won’t get on the field.

A couple schools of thought can come into play with Whitehurst. The theory in the league is that you have to have a backup quarterback who can get you through at least a few weeks if your starter goes down. That’s especially true when your starter (Matt Hasselbeck) is 34 years old and has missed 11 games in the last two seasons because of injury.

But moving down 20 places and giving up a third-rounder next year represents the surrendering of talent that a team with this many needs might dearly miss.

Carroll talked about how frustrating it was to have to watch so many players get snapped up while the Seahawks had no thirdround selections.

Today will be different, he promised, as the Hawks go into it with six picks in the final four rounds.

They still need a pass rusher, depth on both lines, maybe a running back and a cornerback.

So, the needs outnumber the remaining picks, pointing out the obvious – the Hawks’ renovation is hardly a quick-fix, one-draft proposition.

But the first three guys they’ve already landed are a very impressive start.

Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 dave.boling@thenewstribune.com

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