Nothing boosts a draft class like an undrafted free-agent find. I’m thinking in particular of the 1974 Pittsburgh Steelers draft group, when the team tabbed four future Hall of Famers among their first five selections. And they didn’t have one opportunity to pick in the top 20. Added to that group was undrafted DB Donnie Shell, who made it five Hall-of-Famers for the Steelers 1974 rookie class.
With that, I thought I’m ruminate on the Seahawks top ten undrafted players.
Here the are:
10) Jordan Babineaux (2004). Defensive back from Southern Arkansas, Babineaux made his mark in seven seasons with the Seahawks by coming up with a number of big plays. He made the game-winning tackle in the wild-card playoff win over the Dallas Cowboys at the end of the 2006 season. He had keyed another win over the Cowboys in 2005 when intercepted a pass with the score tied in the final half-minute, and returned it 25 yards, setting up the winning field goal. In 2008 he recorded two defensive touchdowns in the regular season and one in the postseason.
9) Thomas Rawls (2015). For a brief time Rawls appeared to be the perfect replacement to Marshawn Lynch. Rawls led the NFL in yards per carry his rookie season when he made only seven starts. He ignited a five-game winning streak with his 200-yard performance against the San Francisco 49ers. Unfortunately, he was on injured reserve by the end of the streak due to a fractured ankle. He recorded five 100-yard games in his career, four of them coming in his rookie season.
8) Norm Johnson (1982). A kicker from UCLA, Johnson played nine seasons in Seattle and earned All-Pro in 1984. He played 18 seasons in the NFL.
7) Rufus Porter (1988). A linebacker from Southern, Porter made the Pro Bowl as a special-teamer in his first two seasons. He went on to become a starter in the defense and played seven seasons with the team before moving on to the New Orleans Saints. Porter came to the Seahawks the same year another undrafted player from Southern, Avery Johnson, came to the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics.
7) Mack Strong (1993). A fullback out of Georgia, Strong got 27 carries his rookie season when he started only one game and played eight. As he moved into the blocker role, those 27 carries remained his career high until 2003 when he carried 37 times. Strong spent his 14-year career with Seattle and earned All-Pro in 2005 when the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl for the first time.
5) Eugene Robinson (1985). A safety out of Colgate, Robinson played 11 seasons with Seattle and led the league in interceptions in 1993 when he picked off nine passes. Cracking the Seahawks roster in the secondary in 1985 was no small achievement. The team had led the NFL in interceptions the year before.
4) Jon Kitna (1996). A quarterback from Central Washington, Kitna led Seattle to its first division title in more than a decade in the 1999 season. He had to work his way up, playing in the World League in 1997 when he led Barcelona to a World Bowl Championship. Kitna played four of his 15 NFL seasons in Seattle.
3) Doug Baldwin (2011). A wide receiver from Stanford, Baldwin played his eight-year career with the Seahawks and earned Pro Bowl nods in the 2016 and ’17 seasons. Baldwin co-led the NFL in touchdown receptions in 2015.
2) Joe Nash (1982). A D-lineman from Boston College, Nash spent his 15-year career in Seattle and earned All-Pro in 1984 when the Seahawks won 12 games for the first time. He blocked eight field goals during his career, three of them coming in the 1989 season.
1) Dave Krieg (1980). A quarterback from Milton, Krieg took over the Seahawks offense midway through the 1983 season and guided the team to the postseason for the first time. He led the NFL in completion percentage in 1991, his final season with the team. Krieg continued his NFL career through 1998, though he made his final 12 starts with the Chicago Bears in 1996. He ranks second on Seattle’s all-time touchdown passes chart. On the negative side, he’s third on the NFL’s career fumbles list, behind only Brett Favre and Warren Moon. Of course you have to take a lot of snaps to get to that level.