SAFETY KENNY EASLEY
WHEN DRAFTED: 1981, first round, fourth overall
SEAHAWKS CAREER: 1981-87
WHY HE’S ON THE LIST: Easley’s inclusion — like everybody the rest of the ones we will reveal — doesn’t need much explaining.
The Seahawks allowed 408 points in 1980, the most in the AFC, and needed defensive help wherever they could get it.
Easley, who was a three-time consensus All-American at UCLA and finished ninth in the Heisman balloting in 1980, was taken by the Seahawks No.4 overall and didn’t disappoint, eventually earning five Pro Bowl appearances and being named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year when Seattle went 12-4 in 1984.
Injuries, though, then began to hit and Easley missed 13 games over the next three seasons before the somewhat messy ending to his Seattle career — a trade to Phoenix and then a kidney ailment that caused him to stop playing football at the age of 29.
The shortness of Easley’s career likely means the NFL Hall of Fame won’t come calling.
But while he played, he certainly was at that level, part of a 1981 draft class that yielded six Hall of Famers — the second-most since the 1960s — five of whom played defense (Lawrence Taylor, Ronnie Lott, Mike Singletary, Howie Long and Rickey Jackson).
Lott was taken four spots after Easley at No. 8 by the 49ers. ESPN’s Mike Sando a few years ago noted that the two were so closely linked on draft day that an airline ticket counter mixed up Lott’s destination, assuming he was going to Seattle. While Easley played, though, no one debated Seattle’s choice of Easley instead of Lott.
Easley, who led the NFL with 10 interceptions in 1984, was inducted into Seattle’s Ring of Honor in 2002.