Counterpoint: Steven Jackson versus Marcus Tubbs

<i>...while Trav Flatt maintains that the Seahawks missed a golden opportunity to build for their future with a miraculous Best Player Available choice (...and what WERE the Cowboys thinking, anyway?).</i>

There are times, when writing for a Nationally Syndicated Sports Media Outlet, that one is required to, despite numerous subtle hints dropped (Such as, “I am not a real sports columnist”.), surprisingly enough, write about sports. This is flagrantly in spite of the fact that, in an attempt to vex the editor, which is, of course, never a good idea to start with, a writer is inclined to frequently, though not always, use an inordinate number of commas in a sentence.

I realize that this counterpoint is likely to irritate many a sports fan, given my profound influence on the decisions made by the Seahawks Front Office (i.e., none). Due to that, I want to begin by saying that I do not think that Marcus Tubbs was a bad pick. I am, however, going to speculate that he doesn’t seem to have been the best pick under the circumstances faced by the Seahawks at #23.

Tending to be a long-term big-picture sort of thinker, I am strongly opposed to drafting for need in lieu of drafting the best player available. Rare is the rookie who can step in and immediately become a starter in the NFL. Round One draft busts are an annual given, just as second-day steals can turn into superstars. I don’t think it wrong to be thinking in terms of the future when dealing with the draft, as the draft is supposed to be about the team’s future.

Free Agency is for today. The draft is for tomorrow.

As unpopular an opinion as it may be, I am having a difficult time envisioning Shaun Alexander as a part of this Seahawk team in 2005. This is in no way a knock on Shaun’s talent or loyalty so much as it is a matter of practicality.

As an unrestricted free agent next season, Shaun is going to be worth top ten running back money. Statistically speaking, he is worth top ten running back money as he is a top ten running back in terms of production. The bookend problems that arise with this are that Seattle is a team built around the passing game, and every team in the NFL must pay attention to the bottom line.

Despite Alexander’s overall productivity, he has not had a reputation as a back that meshes, shall we say, perfectly with Mike Holmgren’s offensive system. There have been complaints about his blocking skills, his consistency, and his ability to get those hard “3rd and short” yards up the middle between the twenties.

Before the draft, I thought it was an unrealistic stretch that we would have the opportunity to draft Steven Jackson. I remember watching with seething hatred while he ran roughshod over my beloved UNM Lobos. Here was a running back able to drive the pile for the first down, willing to lay a punishing block into a blitzing defender, and able to make sure-handed consistent grabs out of the backfield. In short, he was an Ideal Fit for Mike Holmgren’s West Coast Offense.

I never would’ve realistically dreamed that he would drop to us at #23. Much to my complete amazement, he did exactly that. Much to my chagrin, we passed up the opportunity to draft the best player available. Even more ominous, he was then immediately drafted by our division rival, the St. Louis Rams.

Taking Jackson would have completely changed the face of our draft, and I feel it would have vastly improved the outlook for the future of our favored franchise. Our options would have increased significantly. A contributing Defensive Tackle could have been taken later in the day, an Alexander trade could have brought in a proven starter at one of our ‘need’ positions, or granted us an extra early pick (Perhaps an Olshansky, Sopoaga, or Dockett?).

We weren’t able to trade up to acquire Wilfork, and we settled for our second choice when a prototypical WCO running back was sitting there staring us in the face.

Nothing is for certain in the NFL, but how painful will the hindsight be if next season we find ourselves saying goodbye to Shaun Alexander via free agency while the Rams’ shiny new running back lives up to his potential and spends the next few seasons reminding us, twice per season, that he could’ve been a Seahawk?

We had a starting halfback when we drafted Shaun, too, remember?

Trav Flatt writes a weekly column for Seahawks.NET. Fire off your scintillating insights, inquiries, and miscellany to trav@spinn.net.


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