They proved it again Friday when they used their top draft pick, No. 63 overall, on one of the most controversial players in the draft: banned Michigan pass rusher Frank Clark. Then, as if to take everyone’s mind off the controversial pick of Clark, Carroll and Schneider parlayed four draft picks to move up and grab explosive return man/wide receiver Tyler Lockett six picks later.
Carroll and Schneider knew they would take heat for drafting Clark, who was kicked off the team at Michigan after a domestic violence arrest last year.
But the Hawks have never been afraid to acquire players with dubious character. They traded for Marshawn Lynch, signed Terrell Owens and Braylon Edwards, traded for Kellen Winslow, drafted Bruce Irvin and Christine Michael and traded for Percy Harvin.
Most of those head cases didn’t work out, but few of them had any legal problems — they are just all chuckleheads of varying sorts. Clark’s domestic assault charge, pleaded down to disorderly conduct, is a step above those guys and touches a raw nerve among many — with violence against women being a hot-button topic in the NFL these days.
Media already are ripping Schneider for being a hypocrite, drafting Clark even though the GM said in 2012 that the team would never draft a player who hit a woman “or had a domestic dispute like that.”
The Seahawks have signed other players with domestic violence backgrounds, though — they just weren’t as fresh. Tony McDaniel was charged with domestic assault in Miami in 2010, three years before he signed with the Hawks. Kevin Williams was arrested in a domestic incident in 2005, nine years before he joined the Hawks.
Those were one-time cases — not character-defining moments — and Schneider and Carroll obviously think this was a one-time situation, too. Clark apparently has been undergoing counseling, and they are willing to gamble on him.
“Our organization has an in-depth understanding of Frank Clark’s situation and background,” Schneider said. “We have done a ton of research on this young man. There hasn’t been one player in this draft that we have spent more time researching and scrutinizing more than Frank. That’s why we provided Frank this opportunity and are looking forward to him succeeding in our culture here in Seattle.”
Carroll said, “I think that being through the years with kids who have been through issues, it allows us to help him think that we can ensure him that he’s going to be successful. … We never would have made the choice if we didn’t have the background of the information and also the understanding of the environment we are bringing him into. We are going to help him, and he really wants to do a great job. He wants to demonstrate that he is on the right track and he is going to do the right thing, and he is very respectful for the issues in the situation, and I think we will see him exercise that throughout.
“We would not have done this — we would not have gotten to this point, realizing there is going to be the questions and the scrutiny — if we didn’t know we were doing the right thing.”
Everyone deserves a second chance; and, as long as Clark confines his violence to the field, people will give him one.
If Clark is a good boy off the field, he should provide the Hawks with a nice complementary pass rusher to an already pretty good crew — with the thought that he could replace Irvin next year, assuming the Hawks don’t re-sign their 2012 first-rounder. Schneider said they would sit down with Irvin after the draft and talk about his future.
After Clark was drafted, Irvin tweeted, “I ain’t got no worries.” Nor should he. Some team figures to pay him $8 million a year next offseason.
But, for now, Irvin and Clark will be part of a pass-rush package that includes Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Jordan Hill and Cassius Marsh. Should be a pretty good crew.
As for Lockett, some people think the Hawks paid too much — sending their third, a fourth, a fifth and a sixth to Washington to move up 26 spots. But the old draft trade chart says that is a fair deal.
And the Hawks still have six picks on Day 3 of the draft.
The Hawks reportedly tried to move up in the second round, so they were willing to part with some of their 11 picks. When they couldn’t get up high enough in the second, they decided to use the extra picks to move up for Lockett.
Some think that is a lot to give up for a return man, but the Seahawks consider Lockett the best kick returner in the draft and plan to put him back there from Day 1 on punts and kickoffs. And they surely will try to use him in the old Golden Tate/Percy Harvin role, getting the ball to him in the open field so he can use his speed and elusiveness to make plays.
“We are just trying to get better as a team, and I think this makes us a better team,” Carroll said. “The fact that we know that Tyler can jump in there and fill a spot in the receivers spot, too — he will play Doug’s spot and back him up — that’s a real plus, too. He’s not just a returner; he can do other things, too. And we will bring him along.
“But it’s really the return specialist opportunity we thought was really unique, and there was nobody else like him in the draft.”
Schneider said the Seahawks wanted to come out of the draft with three specific players, and they ended up with two of them. Their attempt to move up in the second round probably was for receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, who ended up going to Tennessee at No. 40. Schneider called missing out on him “kind of a bummer.”
Virginia pass rusher Eli Harold was available at No. 63, and he seemed like a possible pick for the Seahawks. Even Irvin thought so. Harold went to the 49ers at No. 79.
Congrats @EliHarold_ wish we coulda got you here! Time to work!
— Bruce Irvin (@BIrvin_WVU11) May 2, 2015