Bucs' Stokes proud of Seahawks roots
Eric Stokes is in his second year as the Bucs' director of college scouting, but much of his professional career was spent with the Seahawks, with two years as a player and another 12 moving up in the team's scouting department.
As Seattle prepares for Sunday's Super Bowl, Stokes was involved in the drafts that produced the team's defensive leaders, like cornerback Richard Sherman, safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor and linebacker K.J. Wright, as well as quarterback Russell Wilson. He took a few minutes Friday to talk about his time in Seattle and his proud involvement in helping bring together the NFC champions' roster ...
Q: You enjoyed your time in Seattle independent of the success the team has found in the past two years, but it has to be gratifying to see the way the Seahawks have come together, knowing you were able to play a role in that collection of talent. What are your best memories of those drafts?
A: It was such an exciting time. You never know initially going into it -- everybody has a plan, and you always have high expectations walking into the draft. Really being a part of those first two years (under coach Pete Carroll) and building what has become the core of that team, it's something I won't forget. It was a great job working with (general manager) John Schneider and Pete Carroll. I learned a tremendous amount during that time. I'm really obviously excited for those guys, excited for those players. It's a tremendous organization, and there are so many people from top to bottom there I enjoyed my time with. That's my home team away from home, so to speak.
Q: Who are you still closest to of the players and staff in Seattle?
A: I keep in touch with all those guys -- some of them have been there just as long as I had. It's a unique staff -- Scott Fitterer, their director of college scouting, I think we worked together 10 years. (Area scout) Ed Dodds, there are several guys that were on that staff. Derrick Jensen is no longer there, but he was there my whole career there. It's a group of core guys -- John Schneider left and came back, a group of scouts that have been there a long time and weathered the storm together during the dark times. We had success going to the Super Bowl (after the 2005 season) and some had the chance to come back and revisit this Super Bowl run.
Q: Of those central core guys you were there for -- Sherman, Chancellor, Thomas, Wright and so on -- who were the guys you were lobbying the hardest for, the ones you're proudest to see playing for Seattle now?
A: I'd have to say Richard Sherman's getting the most buzz right now as far as the guys I had as the West Coast area scout and assistant director there. (Former Stanford receiver, an undrafted rookie in 2011) Doug Baldwin is also a guy on the offensive side of the ball that isn't being talked about as much but has really become one of their go-to weapons as well. I did pretty good with that one run at Stanford. It was one-stop shopping with those two guys right there. Really proud of those guys. Incredible, hard workers, guys that felt like they had a chip on their shoulder and something to prove. They're great people, and whenever you get that, it's icing on the cake. You always feel good about the late-round guys as a scout, because the first-rounders are a little bit easier to sort out, the guys up top. When you can go in there and find fifth-rounders and free agents who are contributing at a high level, that always makes you feel really good.
Q: Are there other low-round guys that were West Coast guys you scouted with Seattle?
A: (Second-year receiver) Jermaine Kearse is another one we took, a free agent out of Washington, right there local. Honestly couldn't believe he fell through the cracks, and to his credit, he was released (before his rookie year and signed to the practice squad initially). He got a second chance and has just taken off. He's another example and a credit to that coaching staff. I can't say that enough. Coach Carroll and his staff have done an excellent job of finding guys and developing talent. It's not just me -- I don't want to give that misconception. There are a lot of good people helping to develop these guys and make them who they are.
Q: You have to be excited to have been there when some of those key decisions were made to set things in motion, I'd think.
A: You're always excited. One thing about John Schneider is he gives scouts the mike to step up and talk. When you have a conviction about a guy, much like a Richard Sherman or a Jermaine Kearse or a Doug Baldwin, he gladly listens. He had the trust and faith in me when it came to that area, and it's worked out incredibly well for those guys. We'll see how it plays out on Sunday.
Q: Can you make it up to the game?
A: No. I'm working. If you're not in the game, you'd better be working. I'll be here, working on our draft, getting things started here Monday. That goes back to Ted Thompson: If you're not in the game, you'd better be working to get better to get there.