A lot has been made of particular position battles going into the Super Bowl, along with other key story lines, like Deflategate and the Marshawn Lynch saga. However, this post is aimed at looking at how these two teams were able to build their teams by hitting on late draft picks, particularly when it comes to the Seahawks. We here at Over the Grill have provided plenty of One Round Mock Drafts so far but perhaps we need to go more in depth after looking through the numbers (and we will as soon as we compile more information). So without further ado, here is our breakdown of the Super Bowl, focusing on where each team selected their players. Lets start with the Seahawks side of this debate and then move to the Patriots after the jump. For purposes of this analysis, we will only focus on players that each team drafted and ignore free agent signings, like Marshawn Lynch and Darrelle Revis.
Starting at quarterback, the Seahawks starting quarterback is Russell Wilson, Wilson was deemed to be too small to be an NFL quarterback and fell to the third round despite unbelievable college production. At running back, key backup Robert Turbin was selected in 4th round by the Seahawks, after coming from a small school in Utah State. Turbin does a great job spelling Lynch and has a game-changing ability. While nobody will argue that the Seahawks are a good team at wide receiver, they have done a good job finding value out of them. Doug Baldwin, their leading receiver, is an undrafted free agent from the 2011 Draft. Jermaine Kearse was also an undrafted free agent, from the 2012 Draft. The Seahawks, instead of picking skill players in the early rounds, have focused on the offensive line and defense in the early rounds. On the offensive line, Russell Okung is a former top ten pick, James Carpenter was selected in the first round as well, and Max Unger was a second round pick in 2009. J.R. Sweezy does not fit that mold, as he was a 7th round selection in 2012 and has turned himself into one of the best guards in the league. Starting right tackle Justin Britt was also a high pick, as he was the Seahawks second round pick last year.
Follow us after the jump for a look at the Seahawks defense and the whole Patriots team
On the defensive side of the ball, the Seahawks have a great balance of high and low draft picks, with almost their entire defense being drafted in the last four years. Michael Bennett was an undrafted free agent who started his career in 2009 with the Seahawks before leaving for the Bucs. He resigned with the Seahawks two years ago and has made a huge impact ever since. Defensive tackle is the only position that wasn’t homegrown, with both Tony McDaniel and Kevin Williams being free agent pickups along with right defensive end, Cliff Avril. However, at linebacker, the Seahawks have invested heavily in drafting players. Starting outside linebacker Bruce Irvin is a former 1st round pick, going 15th overall to the Seahawks in 2012. Starting All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner was the Seahawks 2nd round pick in 2012 and starting left outside linebacker K.J. Wright was the Seahawks 4th round pick in 2011. In the secondary, the Seahawks have former 5th round pick Richard Sherman as their best player. Sherman would have went much higher in the draft if his college coach, Jim Harbaugh, had not bad mouthed him during the draft process. Earl Thomas, the best free safety in the NFL, was the Seahawks first round pick at number 14 overall in 2010. Kam Chancellor took a surprising fall in the draft until the Seahawks snatched him up in the 5th round in 2010. And finally starting right corner Byron Maxwell was a 6th round pick in 2011 for the Seahawks.
As you can see, the Seahawks have done phenomenal job building this team through the draft. Other than on the defensive line, most of their key players were either drafted or undrafted free agent signings. They have hit on plenty of mid to even late round picks while rarely missing on their first or second round picks. Now, its time to look at where the Patriots players were selected.
Starting at quarterback, we all know that the Golden Boy Tom Brady cried when he was drafted in the 6th round way back when. Their running back LaGarrette Blount was a big free agent pickup. At wide receiver, Julian Edelman was a 7th round pick for the Pats back in 2009. Brandon LaFell was a 3rd round pick in 2010. Rob Gronkowski required a 2nd round pick in 2010. As you can see, between 2009 and 2010 the Patriots were able to find Brady’s three favorite weapons. Very good job identifying a weakness after Randy Moss moved on and fixing it so the Pats could stay elite over the past five years. Starting left tackle Nate Solder has been a bit of a disappointment as a former first round pick. However, starting center Ryan Wendell has had an amazing career given that he was an undrafted free agent in 2008. Starting right guard Josh Kline was also an undrafted free agent while staring right tackle Sebastian Vollmer was a 2nd round pick in 2008.
On the defensive side of the ball, Vince Wilfork was the Pats first round pick way back in 2004 out of the U. Rob Ninkovich was a free agent signing while the other starting defensive end, Chandler Jones, is a former first round pick out of Syracuse. Starting strongside linebacker Jamie Collins was the Pats 2nd round pick in 2013 out of Southern Miss while starting weakside linebacker Dont’a Hightower was a 1st round pick for the Pats in 2012. The starting corners are both free agent signings in Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. However, starting free safety Devin McCourty was a first round pick in 2010 while starting free safety Patrick Chung was a 2nd round pick in 2009. Key backups Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon out of Rutgers were both 3rd round picks in 2013.
As you can see, the Pats have not hit on a ton of high picks in recent years, with most of their successes coming in the middle to late rounds. Only four current starters were first round picks by the Patriots, with one of them coming over ten years ago in Vince Wilfork. If the Patriots want to continue to stay on top, they are going to have to improve their ability to hit on high draft picks.