Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll repeatedly stressed this offseason how important it was for him to fix a rushing attack that saw his team get just one rushing touchdown from the running back position last season.
Throw in the numerous injuries the Seahawks have sustained in the backfield the last two seasons and it's no surprise that Seattle felt compelled to address the position early in the NFL Draft.
Seattle's selection of San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny should allow Carroll to feel much more comfortable about his stable of running backs heading into next season.
"I don't mind telling you this pick fires me up!" Carroll said Thursday night. "I am jacked about this pick. ... Let it be known this is an exciting pick."
Marshawn Lynch, Thomas Rawls, C.J. Prosise and Chris Carson have all missed a sizable number of games due to injury over the last three seasons that undercut the production from Seattle's backfield. Eddie Lacy didn't work out as a free-agent signing a year ago. Prosise was hurt for a second straight season. Rawls was dinged up at times and was ineffective, and Carson fractured his ankle in early October. The addition of Penny gives Seattle the NCAA leading rusher from 2017 and a player that returned eight total kicks - seven kickoffs and one punt - for touchdowns in his time at San Diego State.
"He had some really interesting analytics stats about him with durability and run after contact, run after first contact. He actually, of this group (of running backs), was first in both categories," general manager John Schneider said.
Penny's durability was absolutely a key factor to his selection as well given Seattle's recent history at the position.
"It was really an important element of his background and his makeup. It was great," Carroll said.
The focus on fixing the running game was further shown by the selection of tight end Will Dissly in the fourth round.
Dissly is a strong blocking tight end and pairs with Ed Dickson to significantly improve the line play of Seattle's tight-end group.
"It was right on the mark, it was exactly what we hoped to do," Carroll said.
Likewise, adding some help to their defensive end spot had become a real priority this offseason. Michael Bennett was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in March. Cliff Avril's career remains in jeopardy due to a neck injury. Frank Clark has just one year left on his rookie contract before he can hit free agency. And while Dion Jordan had four sacks in five games last season, he missed a pair of games due to injury and remains one misstep away from a second year-long suspension.
With only Marcus Smith, Barkevious Mingo and Branden Jackson in reserve as rotational pass rushers, adding to the team's pass rush was vital.
To fill that void, Seattle took USC defensive end Rasheem Green with their third-round pick.
Schneider said he believes Green was available to them in the third round due to medical concerns about his knee from other teams. However, the team believes that it's not something of serious concern.
"We brought him in (for a visit). Our doctors were able to put their hands on him twice, gave him a great exam up here and then he was able to spend some extra time with our coaches and stuff, get to know him even better than we did," Schneider said.
The issue stems from an injury sustained in high school. However, he played his entire career at USC and didn't appear to be significantly hampered.
"He has a very solid durability grade so we're excited about that," Schneider said.
Green started all 14 games at defensive tackle in 2017 for the Trojans, recording 43 total tackles with 12.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. He was named to the first-team All-Pac 12 team last season. As a sophomore, he started 12 of 13 games for USC in 2016, making 55 tackles, 6.5 for losses, and a team-best six sacks.
Carroll said Green would play their five-technique defensive end spot. Additionally, they believe he has the flexibility to move inside in passing situations to rush from the interior as he has experience playing at tackle with the Trojans.
"We definitely will have some options here. He's really young. He's a 20-year old kid," Carroll said. "He's got a lot of potential to grow and so we'll move him all around and figure it out."
A closer look at the Seahawks' picks:
Round 1/27 -- Rashaad Penny, RB, 5-11, 220, San Diego State
Fixing the rushing game was a major focus of Seattle's offseason and Penny will help stabilize a position that has been in flux since Marshawn Lynch retired after the 2015 season.
Round 3/79 -- Rasheem Green, DE, 6-4, 275, Southern Cal
Seattle needed a defensive end to help replace Michael Bennett and to hedge in case Cliff Avril's career is unable to continue due to injury. Green can move between end and tackle and will play mainly at Seattle's five-technique end spot.
Round 4/120 -- Will Dissly, TE, 6-4, 262, Washington
A talented blocker, Dissly is another addition that should help revitalize their running game. While not a dynamic receiving threat, he has very good hands and is still developing at the position after beginning his college career on the defensive line.
Round 5/141 -- Shaquem Griffin, OLB, 6-0, 227, Central Florida
The brother of Seattle cornerback Shaquill Griffin, Shaquem will be a weak-side linebacker and special teams player early on for the Seahawks. Despite not having have a left hand due to an amputation following a birth defect, Griffin has still been a high performing player in college earning AAC Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2016.
Round 5/146 -- Tre Flowers, CB, 6-3, 202, Oklahoma State
A strong safety at Oklahoma State, the Seahawks see Flowers as a cornerback in their defense. With arms measuring nearly 34 inches, he fits Seattle's prototype of big cornerbacks. Flowers does have some limited experience playing cornerback in sub-packages at Oklahoma State.
Round 5/149 -- Michael Dickson, P, 6-2, 208, Texas
An Australian Rules Football convert, Dickson is an extremely skilled punter with the ability to make the ball spin different directions and stop on a dime. Jon Ryan has been Seattle's punter for a decade and Dickson could take the job for the next 10-plus years.
Round 5/168 -- Jamarco Jones, T, 6-4, 299, Ohio State
A two-year starter at left tackle for the Buckeyes, Jones will compete at that spot with Seattle behind Duane Brown. Jones had mediocre workouts at the NFL Combine that could have facilitated his slide into the fifth round.
Round 6/186 -- Jacob Martin, DE, 6-2, 236, Temple
Martin is an undersized defensive end that will serve as a pass rusher at Seattle's LEO position. Martin played with a broken foot in Temple's bowl game last season. He recorded eight sacks and earned All-AAC conference honors as a senior.
Round 7/220 -- Alex McGough, QB, 6-3, 214, Florida International
McGough is just the second quarterback taken in the draft by the Seahawks since head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider took over the team in 2010 with Russell Wilson being the lone other quarterback selected.