For a team that often bucks convention in the NFL draft, the Seattle Seahawks were relatively straightforward this year. They attacked their most obvious needs early and often (aside from quarterback, where the options underwhelmed them). They made only one trade (but tried to make more), their fewest since 2015. They didn't take any of their nine picks earlier than where analysts generally projected them to go.
But it wouldn't have been a Seahawks draft without at least one debatable decision. And when they chose Michigan State running back Ken Walker III in the second round, the debate raged. Some fans liked it. Others reacted with a level of objection usually reserved for former offensive line coach Tom Cable and ill-fated Pete Carroll challenges.
Critics of the pick saw a running back at No. 41 overall as a misuse of high-end resources for a rebuilding team, but the Seahawks had no qualms about addressing a position of need that early with a player they rated highly. And with Chris Carson's future looking iffy following neck surgery -- not to mention Rashaad Penny's long injury history -- it was a big need.
"We picked him because, on the board, he was up there for us at a spot that we just couldn't pass him up," Carroll said of Walker, who was the second running back taken behind Iowa State's Breece Hall by the New York Jets at No. 36. "But we don't have updates yet on Chris and we won't know for some time. ... So there's a little bit of uncertainty that we're waiting on. With the commitment that we have to the run game, we want that group of guys really [ready] to get this thing hit off from the get-go."
ESPN's Todd McShay rated Walker as his top running back in the draft. Walker transferred out of a crowded Wake Forest backfield in January 2021, exploded for more than 1,600 rushing yards in 12 games during his lone season with the Spartans and finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting. Five of his 19 touchdowns last year came in an October win over Michigan, whose defense had three of the top 45 picks. And for a powerful downhill runner, the 5-foot-9 and 211-pound Walker has plenty of speed, running a 4.38 40-yard dash at the scouting combine.
"He's a rocket," Carroll said Friday after the first practice of Seattle's rookie minicamp. "He caught the ball really well today too, which we are really excited about."