Looking back six years later, the 2013 NFL Draft should be recognized as one of the worst in recent history.
The first round was littered with magnificent first round busts who failed to live up to their draft billing, including defensive end Dion Jordan, offensive lineman Luke Joeckel, and linebacker Barkevious Mingo, each of whom was selected within the first six picks.
If those names ring a bell, it’s probably because all three of the aforementioned players flamed out with their original teams before winding up with the Seahawks on short-term deals. And they’re not the only former first round picks from that ill-reputed draft who received another chance in the Pacific Northwest.
Over the past two seasons, albeit with mixed results, general manager John Schneider and the Seahawks have made it an annual offseason tradition to acquire former first rounders from the 2013 draft through trades and free agency.
Starting in 2017, Seattle took a flier on Jordan, whose career had been derailed by substance abuse and injuries since breaking into the league with Miami. The Seahawks also signed Joeckel to a one-year, $8 million deal, installing him as their starting left guard after several seasons struggling as a tackle with the Jaguars.
Neither Jordan or Joeckel proved to be impactful, though Jordan did manage to curtail a strong finish featuring 4.0 sacks in the final five games of the 2017 season into another one-year deal in 2018.
Once rookie Malik McDowell suffered undisclosed injuries in an ATV accident prior to training camp, the Seahawks were forced to go to the 2013 well again, this time trading a second-round pick and receiver Jermaine Kearse to the Jets in exchange for what ultimately proved to be an expensive one-year rental on defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.
The following offseason, Schneider again went discount shopping for discarded 2013 first-round talent, signing mauling guard D.J. Fluker to a one-year deal and adding versatile defender Barkevious Mingo on a two-year contract. Unlike their additions the previous season, both proved to be valuable contributors as the Seahawks returned to the playoffs after a one-year hiatus and remain on the roster going into 2019.
In total, the Seahawks have signed or traded for six former first round picks from 2013, most recently handing ex-Lions standout pass rusher Ezekiel Ansah a one-year contract on May 10.
It’s well-documented Schneider never leaves a stone unturned, but why have the Seahawks been so enamored by underachieving players from a class that has yielded far more duds than game-changing stars?
Whether it’s simple confidence or borderline arrogance, Schneider and coach Pete Carroll believe in the power of the culture they’ve helped establish in Seattle. They believe their system built around competition and trust will provide the optimal opportunity to maximize performance from players, including those who struggled to produce elsewhere.
The Seahawks brain trust also loves to buy low in free agency, constantly looking for bargains who may offer the most bang for their bucks. Though players like Joeckel may not have succeeded under the weight of being a first-round pick, Seattle clearly views such free agents as affordable, high-reward signings who could benefit from a change of scenery.
As a result, Seattle hasn’t been shy about going treasure hunting in the free agent scrapheap, whether it’s to sign a productive, yet injury-prone defender such as Ansah or a floundering starter such as Joeckel.
And while these moves haven’t always panned out as hoped, that won’t stop Schneider and the Seahawks front office from continuing to take a shot on talented players who underwhelmed and/or battled injuries with their previous team(s) in the future.