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Off-field history makes Hawks draft pick riskiest ever

The Seattle Seahawks made the riskiest pick in franchise history.

And if the experience with Michigan’s Frank Clark turns out badly, it’s going to be a rare grim reflection on the glowing success of the regime of general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll.

Clark’s history includes domestic violence and assault charges last November (reduced to disorderly conduct in April), and felony theft of a computer in 2012. The domestic violence incident caused him to be dismissed from the Michigan team.

Some NFL teams eliminated him from consideration entirely. The recent reduction of charges made Clark more politically acceptable to teams.

But is he worth this risk? Especially with a second-round pick?

Particularly given the climate in the NFL — and the growing awareness of the problem nationwide — this should be the guideline: Domestic violence in any form cannot be tolerated. Nonnegotiable.

And the Seahawks, as the most powerful thought-shapers in the region, absolutely must not reward anybody remotely connected to it.

The explanation by Clark is that he was in a bad situation and never laid hands on the alleged victim.

In a conference call after the pick, Clark expressed his belief that no woman should ever have to go through domestic violence. He apologized for putting himself in “a position I shouldn’t have been in.”

To the limit you can judge sincerity over a conference call, Clark seemed genuine. He said Seahawks officials grilled him persistently about the incident. Obviously, they came away satisfied with his explanation.

Issues of lawlessness among players in the Schneider/Carroll regime have been almost nonexistent. They’ve taken some players with risky histories and kept them on the rails and on-task.

Obviously, they’re doing a lot of things right with their guys, while still building one of the top rosters in the NFL.

Congratulations.

With Clark, though, the history of red flags will open Schneider and Carroll to aggressive scrutiny if this turns sour.

The warnings were widespread. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, for instance, was quoted on the matter: “Because of that significant off-the-field incident, I think he got significantly downgraded to the point where he wasn’t going to get drafted. The legality of that has come out, and it’s been downgraded a little bit. But I still think, at best, he’s going to be a late-draft guy.”

Carroll and Schneider have never cared about how others view their acquisitions. Marshawn Lynch was going to be a divisive trouble-maker. Russell Wilson was too short to play quarterback in the NFL. Richard Sherman didn’t have the speed or technique to be an elite cornerback.

Critics were wrong. The Seahawk brass were right. Worth considering when squinting at the Clark pick.

You have to know that Schneider and Carroll vetted the Clark situation as much or more than any other in their careers. To a broad extent, they’ve earned the trust of Seahawk fans.

Incidentally, reports hold that Clark has the ability to rush the passer. The Hawks can use that. In fact, he must be able to do it extremely well to ever considered taking Clark in the first place.

At the least, this young man will have a very low threshold for further calamity.

Clark could turn into another of Carroll and Schneider’s success stories. But if it goes bad, they’re going to have a lot to answer for.

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