RENTON, Wash. -- Notre Dame receiver Golden Tate was falling the Seahawks' way in the second round Friday when the most successful coach in franchise history intervened.
Mike Holmgren, entering his first season as Browns president, leap-frogged his former team into the 59th overall choice, one spot ahead of Seattle.
"We were holding our breath for a minute," Seahawks scout Jason Barnes said afterward.
Tate wasn't for everyone. He's not a burner and some have compared him to a running back in body type, but the Seahawks thought he could become a Hines Ward-type talent in their offense (the Steelers found Ward in the third round of the 1998 draft). And they knew if their offensive coaches liked Tate, Holmgren might also like him for an offense with a shared West Coast ancestry.
"A lot of people compare him to Hines Ward," Barnes said, "which I can really see as far as his aggressive style of play and his strength and his feistiness."
There was some thought Holmgren might have been jumping ahead of Seattle to draft Colt McCoy, but he waited until the third round before taking the Texas quarterback. The Seahawks didn't envision drafting a quarterback in the first few rounds, explaining their decision to grab Charlie Whitehurst from the Chargers in a predraft trade. They weren't worried about McCoy. They wanted Tate to fill a need at receiver after watching Nate Burleson depart in free agency.
Such was the state of the Seahawks' roster. The team couldn't help but fill immediate needs in this draft. Landing a left tackle was critical and Russell Okung, chosen sixth overall, was rated among the top two at the position in this draft. Getting help at safety was another must after Deon Grant's release left Seattle with only two on its roster. Earl Thomas, chosen 14th overall, should join Okung as an immediate starter.
Tate also should contribute right away -- on offense and in the return game.
The Seahawks are getting a superior all-around athlete. The Arizona Diamondbacks drafted Tate as an outfielder in 2007. He can make the tough catch downfield. But there were reasons he lasted until the second round.
"Tate comes from a pro-style offense and shouldn't take long to adapt," Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. said. "I think he has a rather low ceiling, though -- a No. 2 at best. He is somewhat stiff and sort of straight-linish. Not real elusive, but he plays fast, he plays hard, attacks the football."
Jeremy Green, also of Scouts Inc., agreed in part. "I think he has a little more wiggle with the ball in his hands, at least."
Tate had enough wiggle to avoid Mike Holmgren in the second round. For that, the Seahawks were grateful.