Dave Boling: 'Wizard' head coach Mike Macdonald is Seattle's most important young prospect as draft concludes

Apr. 27—RENTON, Wash. — This young prospect seems promising, even if somewhat light on experience and new to his position.

This newcomer's ability to fill the role of a departed veteran will be more crucial to the success of the Seattle Seahawks in coming years than any player drafted this week.

The workings of rookie head coach Mike Macdonald received extended public exposure during the NFL draft.

First impression: Macdonald seems serious, intense, focused. All business. Eager to earn his stripes.

He's 36 — a youthful 36 — but it's obvious that he understands the gravity of his position, and the pressures that come with it.

Imagine how massive is the step from NFL defensive coordinator (for two seasons with Baltimore) to being head coach of the Seahawks, with all the external duties and distractions that attend the job.

Compounding those challenges is the reality that he's being asked to replace the winningest coach in franchise history, who also was extremely popular with fans and coworkers.

Pete Carroll was a big-personality coach who ran this operation for 14 years. He filled this building with energy and magnetism. And in collaboration with GM John Schneider, the charismatic Carroll constructed a legacy of 10 playoff appearances.

He left big Air Monarchs to fill when he was dismissed.

Macdonald appropriately understands that his best approach is to be himself rather than attempting to be the next Carroll. This weekend he respectfully cited Carroll's residual influence.

Asked what he's seen from the Seahawks in their early offseason workouts, Macdonald said: "I've told the guys, I love our spirit. That's a shout-out to how they've done things here in the past. You feel a hunger, a sense of urgency from them, too."

At times over the years, draft-time news conferences with Carroll and Schneider felt like early scripts for a buddy movie, Carroll the energetic uncle and Schneider the respectful young administrator.

They sometimes finished each other's thoughts while also busting each other's chops. Carroll called him "Johnny," a fond diminutive.

I tried to imagine what this weekend has been like for Carroll, who so obviously and energetically relished the acquisition of promising young talents.

The Virginia Mason headquarters look over the eastern shore of Lake Washington, and for much of Saturday afternoon, a boat carried a lone bass fisherman circling just off the nearest pier. Could that have been Pete, for old-times' sake, trolling for a way to contribute?

So, the obvious question: How will Schneider, now in complete control of personnel, work with the new sidekick?

When asked what he saw of Macdonald through the draft process, Schneider made a list: "Confidence, clarity, well-thought out. No panic."

One could question whether Macdonald's youth would affect his ability to command respect among veteran players. But that could easily be turned around with the perception that somebody who could rise into this position so quickly must be exceptionally sharp.

All will be clarified once the season unfolds. Winning games answers all questions.

Some former Ravens players have called Macdonald a "wizard." His capacity to install and adapt complex defenses made a number of NFL teams eager to hire him.

Macdonald certainly was an accomplished student at Georgia, earning an honors degree and a master's in finance. The carryover from the study of finances? Isn't modern coaching about investment, risk/reward assessment, understanding the market and the competition, statistical analyses?

The feelings among some fans and a few former players were ruffled when it was reported that Macdonald had been responsible for removing pictures of players and historic moments from the headquarters.

Every wall in the building that I saw this weekend was still covered with action photos from back through the years.

So, forget the feng shui and headquarters decor. That stuff has nothing to do with how they will play this season.

Sunday, Macdonald explained. He and his staff respect the history of the organization. "That's what we're chasing," he said. "What we were trying to do with messaging was we want to create our own rallying cries and history."

Macdonald touted nearly every player selected as being "nasty." It seems one of his prerequisites — as it has been here for years — along with other Carroll-Schneider favorites: "grit" and "juice."

This year, a new favored attribute is "anchor."

When Schneider assessed the Hawks' second pick, guard Christian Haynes out of Connecticut, he said "he's got anchor."

Anchor. Not "an" anchor or "good" anchor. Just anchor, as a quality. It implies a player that can't be moved. Stable. Formidable.

That seems to work, also, to describe our first impressions of Macdonald.

This is only an early review, but it seems as if he's another Seahawk rookie eager to prove he has anchor.