The Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos 43-8 Sunday evening in Super Bowl XLVIII and they did so with stellar play by their defense that included forcing four turnovers and pressuring quarterback Peyton Manning in the pocket most of the game. You might be surprised to know, however, that only two of the Seahawks defensive starters on Sunday were drafted in the first two rounds.
Safety Earl Thomas was drafted in the first round of the 2010 draft and inside linebacker Bobby Wagner was drafted in the second-round of the 2012 draft. Wagner led the Seahawks in total tackles in the Super Bowl, while Thomas chipped in seven total tackles and a pass defensed.
Outside of Thomas, the rest of the Seahawks secondary is comprised of players drafted in the fourth round or later and that includes cornerback Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, both of whom are former fifth-round draft picks.
The Seahawks defensive line that hounded Manning for most of the game really includes some surprises. Linebacker/defensive end Bruce Irvin, who didn’t start on Sunday, is of course a former first-round draft pick, but the rest of the rotation, as you can see in the table below, were drafted in the third round or later with Chris Clemons, Michael Bennett and Tony McDaniel all being former undrafted free agents.
The Seahawks scouts, front office and coaching staff really deserves a lot of credit for putting this championship defense together as seven of the 11 defensive players that started the Super Bowl were drafted by them. In addition, of the 22 defensive players that the Seahawks dressed on Sunday, 15 were either drafted by them or originally signed following drafts as undrafted free agents. Even linebacker Malcolm Smith, who was the MVP of the game, was drafted by the Seahawks in the seventh round in 2011.
As a means of comparison, the Steelers starting eleven on defense to close out the 2013 season included five players that were drafted by them in either the first or second round. Ziggy Hood wasn’t a starter to close out the season, but when you consider how much he played, you might as well bump that number up to six. Had LaMarr Woodley stayed healthy, he would increase that number to seven.
How The Seahawks Super Bowl Game-Winning Defense Was Built