We’ll continue our countdown of the top 25 draft picks in Seahawks history with a player of more recent vintage — current defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (pictured above in a Dean Rutz photo).
WHEN DRAFTED: 2007, 3rd round, No. 85 overall
SEAHAWKS CAREER: 2007-present
WHY HE’S ON THE LIST: The Seahawks salvaged a 2007 draft that otherwise ranks as among the worst in recent memory — Seattle didn’t have a first round pick thanks to the ill-fated Deion Branch trade, and other than Mebane, everybody else on the list was gone by 2011.
Mebane, though, has turned into one of the team’s most dependable defensive players since arriving, starting 101 games overall and playing in 107 of a possible 112, capping it off with a stellar 2013 season in which he played at a Pro Bowl-level in helping lead a Seahawks defense that powered the team to its first Super Bowl win.
Sure, it’s not a huge shock that a third-round pick would go on to be a productive player. But Mebane has turned into one of the gems of that draft, not just for the Seahawks but for any team — one recent review of the 2007 draft posited that if the draft were held now, Mebane could have gone as high as 13th.
Mebane was regarded as one of the top players in the Pac-10 his senior season at Cal, and regarded as a player who could go as high as the second round.
However, what was regarded as a subpar Senior Bowl raised some questions and dropped his stock some. Seattle, just a year removed from its first Super Bowl appearance, wasn’t dissuaded.
In fact, as explained by then-General Manager Tim Ruskell, Mebane is a classic case of the payoff of simply trying to take the best player available.
Here’s what Ruskell said on the weekend Mebane was drafted.
“This was a Best Player thing. We would have gone in any direction. There was nothing that we were limited to do because we are not talking about a guy coming in and having to start right away. He’s a guy that was kind of on the cusp of the grade level that we took him at, and a grade level higher. We kept going back and forth in talking about it. We felt fortunate to get him there.”
Ruskell also proved pretty prescient in describing what the team thought it was getting in Mebane:
“He was consistently a good player for Cal. He is more of a run stopper. His best trait is his ability to hold the point and be stout at the point of contact. He is also a very quick first step guy. We thought he was a disruptive run player, not as much of a pass rusher. His pass rush comes in the form of pushing the pocket and making the quarterback either bring the ball down or flush the pocket. He is a very hard working guy, loves the game. Just another piece of the puzzle for inside. Initially we will rotate in there. Everybody knows our situation there with some injuries and guys coming back from injury, so it’s kind of a little smoky as to how that’s going to turn out this year when we go to camp. So, we felt like another piece of the puzzle inside in terms of rotation of defensive linemen would be a good thing to get.”
Mebane projects to again be a foundation piece of Seattle’s defensive line in 2014, which will be his eighth season with the team. And with Red Bryant having been released, Mebane is now the only player drafted when Mike Holmgren was coach who remains with the Seahawks.