Building a Champion Through the Draft

Sure, the trade for Marshawn Lynch and free agent addition of defensive linemen Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Kevin Williams helped but the Seattle Seahawks have qualified for their second consecutive Super Bowl based on the talent they plucked from the annual NFL Draft. grades the top five draft day decisions that created the current juggernaut.

If winning a Super Bowl is difficult, repeating as champions has proven nearly impossible with only seven teams accomplishing this feat in the 48-year history of the big game.

Since inheriting a 4-12 club in 2010, head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have completely overhauled the roster. In their five years at the helm, the Seahawks have made nearly 900 roster transactions and only three players - center Max Unger, punter Jon Ryan and injured defensive tackle Brandon Mebane - were on the roster prior to Carroll's jump from USC. No one remains on the roster from the Seahawks' 2006 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL.

Like every other team in the league, the Seahawks have supplemented their roster with veteran free agency. Defensive linemen Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril were key additions a year ago and former Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowler Kevin Williams has played a critical role in Mebane's absence this season. Veteran trades are rare in the NFL but not in Seattle since Carroll and Schneider arrived. Trading for and then jettisoning Percy Harvin generated the most buzz, but the single most important addition to the roster may have been Marshawn Lynch, who was stolen from the Buffalo Bills for a pair of late round picks in the 2011 and 2012 draft. "Beast Mode" has since emerged as arguably the top back in the league and certainly the engine behind Seattle's top-ranked running game.

The lifeblood of any successful NFL team, however, remains the draft. Carroll and his coaching staff identify the key characteristics for each position on the field. Schneider and his personnel department are tasked with finding the collegiate players who possess these traits. It is a marriage of philosophies that is rare in today's ego-driven NFL and has resulted in draft day larceny for the Seahawks.

The Five Draft Day Decisions that played the biggest role in Seattle's success are ranked below.

5. Kam Chancellor, No. 133 overall, 2010 draft

Chancellor provides the leadership and thunderous hits that inspired the Legion of Boom nickname. His selection roughly 125 picks after left tackle Russell Okung and All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas makes him the best value in a 2010 draft class that ranks as one of the best in Seahawks history. Besides Okung, Thomas and Chancellor, the Seahawks also notably nabbed former wideout Golden Tate (No. 60 overall), the team's leading receiver during its successful Super Bowl a year ago.

Chancellor was critical in Seattle's Super Bowl victory over the Denver Broncos a year ago and his return to health helped inspire the Seahawks' current eight-game winning streak. Chancellor could be especially critical in Super XLIX because he is expected to match up with Patriots' All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski, at times.

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