RUNNING BACK CURT WARNER
WHEN DRAFTED: 1983, first round, third overall
COLLEGE: Penn State
SEAHAWKS CAREER: 1983-89
WHY HE’S ON THE LIST: I can already hear groans from people who might protest that at this point, Warner might be only the third-best running back in team history.
But again, this is a list of draft picks — value, production, what it means to the team. And at that time, this pick meant as much as any in team history.
After having compiled a number of good, young defensive players in previous drafts — Jacob Green, Jeff Bryant, Kenny Easley — new coach Chuck Knox came in and determined that Seahawks were lacking one essential ingredient to be competitive. And that, in his system, was a top-flight running back.
So Knox and GM Mike McCormack made the aggressive move to trade their first-, second- and third-round picks to Houston to move up from the No. 9 slot of the first round to get the Oilers’ spot at No. 3.
Turns out, Seattle gave up a lot. Houston’s pick at No. 9 was Hall of Fame guard Bruce Matthews.
But Warner was exactly what Seattle needed at that time, coming off three straight losing seasons, to lead the Seahawks to their first playoff berth — and an exhilarating playoff run to the AFC title game.
Warner had 1,449 yards to finish third in the NFL (career stats here), and you could make a case that he was as valuable to the Seahawks that season, with the way they played under Knox, as any player in team history for a single year.
Warner tore up his knee in the first game of the following year, and while he came back to have some very good seasons, medicine was a little different then and many around the team will tell you he was never quite the same. Still, he had a very good career, and to me, the symbolism of the team taking a gamble and having it pay off, leading to the glory days of the mid-80s, makes it a pick that is one of the best in team history.