2014 NFL Draft: Look To Seattle For Mid-Round Draft Success, Rick Smith

Russell Wilson and Whitney Mercilus. - Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

They say that general managers make their money drafting in the middle rounds. That's Rounds 3, 4 and 5. So let us compare Houston Texans GM Rick Smith's haul in those rounds with that of the reigning Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. You'll notice some differences.

The four-year transformation of the Seattle Seahawks has been, to say the least, impressive. Under head coach Jim Mora and general manager Tim Ruskell, we saw them hit rock bottom in 2009. How bad was it? It was so bad that they...

- signed WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, then 31, to a four-year, $40 million contract with $15 million guaranteed. He would be released one year later.

- drafted future mega-bust Aaron Curry with the 4th overall pick.

- went 4-12 for the season, scoring their lowest amount of points offensively (294) since 1994.

This ushered in Pete Carroll and John Schneider as Seattle's shiny, new HC/GM combo. And they got started right away, making 284 roster transactions in 2010 alone. This, of course, culminated with a Super Bowl championship against one of the greatest offenses of all time.

The full extent of their rebuild is too much to discuss in one article, so we'll focus on just one aspect of their success: mid-round draft picks. From 2010 to 2012, the Seahawks drafted (at least) five such players that were absolutely crucial to their 2013 Super Bowl run. You might have heard of some of these players already.

I compare their drafts to the Texans' not to slobber over the Seahawks, but to illustrate an area that Rick Smith could improve upon significantly.

Seahawks 2010

Round / Pick Name Pos
4 / 111 Walter Thurmond III CB
4 / 127 E. J. Wilson DE
5 / 133 Kam Chancellor S

Texans 2010

Round / Pick Name Pos
4 / 102 Darryl Sharpton LB
4 / 118 Garrett Graham TE
5 / 144 Sherrick McManis CB

Walter Thurmond III has had his injury and off-field issues, but he proved his worth as a fill-in during Brandon Browner's suspension. The Seahawks' defense barely skipped a beat with him as the starter He parlayed it into a one-year "prove it" contract with the New York Giants.

Kam Chancellor has been stellar from Day One, terrorizing pass-catchers with vicious hits and recently earning All-Pro Honors.

For the Texans, Garrett Graham is the lone bright spot in an otherwise lousy middle draft. Sherrick McManis was traded to the Chicago Bears in exchange for fullback Tyler Clutts. And Darryl Sharpton is Darryl Sharpton: an oft-injured replacement level linebacker (who now plays for Washington).

Seahawks 2011

Round / Pick Name Pos
3 / 75 John Moffitt G
4 / 99 K. J. Wright LB
4 / 107 Kris Durham WR
5 / 154 Richard Sherman CB
5 / 156 Mark LeGree S

Texans 2011

Round / Pick Name Pos
4 / 127 Rashad Carmichael CB
5 / 144 Shiloh Keo S
5 / 152 T. J. Yates QB

For the Hawks, K.J. Wright has been a solid, durable contributor, missing just four games since he was drafted.  I don't even need to discuss Richard Sherman.

I certainly won't begrudge the Texans for T.J. Yates, not after what he did for the team in 2011. Inexplicably, Shiloh Keo wooed Wade Phillips into significant starting time despite never being better decent. Roc Carmichael is just another cornerback in the long, sad history of drafted cornerbacks by the Texans.

Seahawks 2012

Round / Pick Name Pos
3 / 75 Russell Wilson QB
4 / 106 Robert Turbin RB
4 / 114 Jaye Howard DT
5 / 154 Korey Toomer LB

Texans 2012

Round / Pick Name Pos
3 / 68 DeVier Posey WR
3 / 76 Brandon Brooks OG
4 / 99 Ben Jones C
4 / 121 Keshawn Martin WR
4 / 126 Jared Crick DE
5 / 161 Randy Bullock K

Russell Wilson has been just the conductor (rather than the engine) of a very powerfully built train for two years, but his mobility, accuracy and coolness under pressure has already vaulted him into Top 10 QB status.

This is where there's still some potential for the Texans to catch up in the talent arms race. DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin could still flourish under Bill O'Brien's forward-thinking tutelage. Brandon Brooks has shown enough to remain a starter, while Jared Crick is hopefully foaming at the mouth and ready to prove himself now that the depth chart has cleared up in front of him.

So Rick Smith should go?

Not at all. At least not yet. Rick Smith and his staff have mostly shined in the first round and made some savvy moves in Free Agency (yes, yes, I know). He absolutely nailed the near-talentless 2009 NFL Draft, picking up contributors with almost every selection--contributors like Connor Barwin, Glover Quin, and James Casey, all of whom helped elevate the team to success in 2011 and 2012. But the Seahawks' four-year rebuild certainly puts pressure on Smith and his staff, as Smith & Co. have had almost double that time to build a championship team

With Houston's cap space such as it is, the 2014 NFL Draft--all rounds, not just the first--will be absolutely crucial in determining what direction the Houston Texans take...and by extension, what direction Smith's career takes.

Also, seriously, have you seen the Dallas Cowboys' 2009 Draft? It's a who's who of who's that?

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