The Seattle Seahawks have made eight picks in the first round of the NFL Draft since 2010. Some of these picks have become immediate contributors while others have struggled to perform well on the field. According to Pro Football Focus, Earl Thomas is the unquestioned best out of this group.
PFF released a list on Tuesday detailing the best and worst first-round picks of all 32 NFL teams since 2010. The site based the rankings on WAR (Wins Above Replacement). This metric “combines how well a player performed in each facet of play (using PFF grades) and how valuable each facet is to winning football games.”
The Seahawks have found standout players in the first round, including tackle Russell Okung and defensive end Bruce Irvin. However, Thomas clearly performed the best during his nine-year tenure in the Pacific Northwest. He earned six Pro Bowl nominations, as well as three first-team All-Pro nominations.
“Thomas stands as their only selection with a WAR per season of at least +0.10,” Ian Hartitz states in the PFF article. “Part of this has been due to generally picking toward the bottom of the draft, although that didn’t stop the Seahawks from nailing later-round picks like Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and more over the years.”
The latest Seahawks news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Seahawks newsletter here!
Thomas provided instant value for the Seahawks as a Rookie
The Seahawks selected two players during the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. They picked Okung sixth overall and then took Thomas 14th. The former University of Texas defensive back became an immediate contributor during his rookie season, starting all 16 games, intercepting five passes, and forcing one fumble.
Thomas continued to be the top defender in the secondary through the end of the 2015 season. He started every game and tallied 21 interceptions. Thomas went to five straight Pro Bowls and helped the Seahawks defeat the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. The Seahawks rewarded Thomas with a four-year, $40 million extension.
Throughout Thomas’ tenure with the Seahawks, he made up one part of the “Legion of Boom.” This secondary also featured Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Brandon Browner, and Byron Maxwell. Walter Thurmond also played a key role.
Thomas’ time in Seattle ended in contentious fashion
Thomas may have started his career with six consecutive seasons of standout play, but he struggled to remain on the field during his remaining years in Seattle. He only played in 11 games in 2016 and then 14 in 2017. Though Thomas returned to his Pro Bowl form during this shortened campaign.
Heading into the 2018 season, Thomas wanted a new contract extension. This desire became a point of contention between him and the Seahawks, resulting in Thomas skipping practices and openly declaring that he wanted a trade.
Thomas played in the first four games of the 2018 season, recording two interceptions against the Dallas Cowboys and one against the Denver Broncos. However, he suffered a season-ending broken leg against the Arizona Cardinals. As the trainers carted Thomas from the field, he gave Seahawks coach Pete Carroll the middle finger.
“I don’t regret my decision,” Thomas said about the gesture, per ESPN. “If my teammates felt like it was toward them, I regret that part. But I don’t regret doing that to Pete…I gave Pete the middle finger because I felt like he wasn’t being honest with me.”
The Cardinals game was the final time that Thomas suited up for the Seahawks. He signed a four-year contract with the Ravens prior to the 2019 season and played in 15 regular-season games. Thomas earned a seventh Pro Bowl nomination while helping the Ravens reach the playoffs. However, the Ravens cut ties with Thomas after an altercation on the practice field where he punched fellow safety, Chuck Clark.