There was a record set in the Thursday’s first round.
Nine defensive backs were selected, the most of any first round in NFL Draft history.
Is this the Richard Sherman (or more so Seattle Seahawks) Effect? Well, sort of.
Let’s back up to the 2011 draft when Sherman fell to the fifth round. What does he remember about it? You won’t be surprised by his answer.
“Being angrier and angrier every pick,” Sherman said. “You don’t expect to get picked in round one. Nobody has talked about me, nobody has said anything.. But, teams have called and said, ‘Oh, we’re thinking about taking you this pick in the second round, this pick in the third round.’ You’ve got several teams telling you that and you expect to get picked then.
“After that day passes, you get frustrated. You feel like, ‘Is every team just lying?’ It takes a long time to get from day two to day three. That’s a long waiting period. You sit by your phone literally for hours and hours and hours at a time, waiting for some kind of message, some kind of reassurance that you’re going to get drafted. Then, day three starts and still no phone call.
“Then the fourth round passes and that’s when it’s like, ‘Dang, I might not get picked.’ That’s when it starts going downhill. Your emotions … you start thinking, ‘Is this it for football?’ Then, you get a call at the end of the fifth round and Seattle makes the best decision they could make (laughs).”
Once Sherman (6-foot-3) was paired with Brandon Browner (6-4), the Seahawks had an enormous duo at corner. Both ended up going to the Pro Bowl and heads were turned.
“It’s a lot different than when I came out,” Sherman said. “When I came out, nobody wanted this model. You’re too tall, too stiff, you don’t run well, you don’t get out of your breaks. For me to change the prototype for what a corner is, is a great thing. The game has always been changing, getting bigger, better, faster stronger receivers who are Calvin Johnson’s size, A.J. Green, Julio Jones, some of the best receivers in the league are huge.
“You still have the DeSean Jacksons who make a tremendous impact, but you also have the Josh Gordons who need bigger corners to corral them sometimes. You give them a chance. I think Brandon, and myself and (Dominique Rodgers-) Cromartie (who is 6-2), who are playing well and being tall, rangy corners are changing that.”
When Sherman was drafted in 2011, three cornerbacks were picked in the first round: Patrick Peterson went fifth overall, Prince Amukamara went 19th and Jimmy Smith went 27th. Overall, 39 cornerbacks were selected.
In 2012, again three corners in the first round: Morris Claiborne went sixth, Stephon Gilmore went 10th and Dre Kirkpatrick went 17th. Overall, 31 corners were picked.
Last year, four corners went in the first round: Dee Milner went ninth, D.J. Hayden 12th, Desmond Trufant 22nd and Xavier Rhodes went 25th. Overall, 29 corners were selected.
That moves us to Thursday’s first round with the record-setting total of nine defensive backs three months after the Seahawks won the Super Bowl. The previous record of seven occurred three times (1998, 2006 and 2013).
Of the five cornerbacks among that record-setting lot of defensive backs, two are six-feet tall: Justin Gilbert (Cleveland Browns) and Kyle Fuller (Chicago Bears). The rest are shorter, all the way down to 5-9.
The overall pursuit of bigger, stronger, faster is going to continue at every position. As is the need to obtain better players to counter the massive amount of passing in the league.
Pete Carroll and John Schneider contend their base model is not revolutionary. Carroll said he has been after big corners since working at North Carolina State in the early 1980s. Reality is, they’re hard to find.
But what happened in the first round yesterday sends a clear message that drafting priorities have shifted and part of the reason for that is the Seahawks being Super Bowl champions. That’s how you end up with nine defensive backs and zero running backs on day one of the draft.
The record-setting nine defensive backs drafted in Round 1:
|Justin Gilbert||Cleveland (8)||Oklahoma State|
|Kyle Fuller||Chicago (14)||Virginia Tech|
|Calvin Pryor||N.Y. Jets (18)||Louisville|
|Ha Ha Clinton-Dix||Green Bay (21)||Alabama|
|Darqueze Dennard||Cincinnati (24)||Michigan State|
|Jason Verrett||San Diego (25)||Texas Christian|
|Deone Bucannon||Arizona (27)||Washington State|
|Jimmie Ward||San Francisco (30)||Northern Illinois|
|Bradley Roby||Denver (31)||Ohio State|