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Third draft together, same focus
With the 12th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks select …
The trendy pick in the avalanche of mock drafts that are threatening to clog the internet seems to be Boston College middle linebacker Luke Kuechly. At least this week. Last week, it was North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples, who also continues to draw his share of love this week. Next week? Who knows, as USC defensive end Nick Perry, Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe and Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill also have been mock-ingly linked to the Seahawks.
Just the mention of all this mock-a-mania elicits a smile from John Schneider, the Seahawks’ third-year general manager who is overseeing the team’s preparations for another important avenue that will allow coach Pete Carroll to continue stocking the roster with players who possess unique qualities that will allow him to play the game the way he wants to play it – fast, aggressive, smart.
|2012 NFL DRAFT|
This is the first in a series of articles previewing the three-day NFL Draft. Today: A look at the process through the eyes of Seahawks general manager John Schneider. Tomorrow: The quarterbacks.
Seahawks Draft party: Thursday, April 26, CenturyLink Field Event Center, 4 p.m.
“There are tons of mock drafts, and I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t look at them,” Schneider said. “But it’s not that easy.
“We build our (draft) board based on our team and what we have currently. So we compare these players to our current roster, and that’s how we build our board. We don’t build our board for the league, per say.”
And definitely not to appease those who compile mock drafts.
“So while people in a mock draft might feel like we need a certain position or a specific player, it’s just really who has the highest grade – and if it fills a specific need, that’s great,” Schneider said. “But it’s a grade comparable to what our team is and how we see our own players at each position.
“That’s why it’s so important to know your team and evaluate your team first and foremost.”
The truth is, any of the above players would help the Seahawks as they look to improve on the 7-9 records they posted in each of Carroll’s first two seasons. Bottom line, however, the Seahawks could select any of them, or someone that no one has mentioned – as was the case last year when they used the 25th pick in the first round to draft tackle James Carpenter.
“Quite honestly, James filled a need for us,” Schneider said. “At the time, we did not have a right tackle that we felt completely comfortable with. So to us, when you’re picking at 25, to be able to plug in a starter at that position was huge for us.”
Regardless of how the pundits might have viewed the selection at the time.
The Seahawks’ efforts to this point in free agency have helped shape the build-through-the-draft approach that is the cornerstone of their philosophy on how to construct a team.
Priorities 1A and 1B were retaining leading rusher Marshawn Lynch and run-stuffing defensive end Red Bryant in free agency, without using the franchise tag. Check, and check. The club also reached agreements with Pro Bowl fullback Michael Robinson, who helped pave the way for Lynch’s 1,204-yard, 13-touchdown season; offensive linemen Breno Giacomini and Paul McQuistan, who combined to start 18 games last season; linebacker Heath Farwell, who led the NFL in special teams tackles last season; and cornerbacks Marcus Trufant and Roy Lewis, after one (Trufant) had been released and the other (Lewis) not tendered an offer as a restricted free agent.
The Seahawks also added to the depth and competitiveness at targeted positions by acquiring free agents from other teams – quarterback Matt Flynn (Packers) defensive tackle Jason Jones (Titans), offensive linemen Deuce Lutui (Cardinals) and Frank Omiyale (Bears), linebacker Barrett Ruud (Titans) and running back Kregg Lumpkin (Buccaneers).
“I think we’ve put ourselves in a situation where we can go into the draft and feel comfortable about what’s coming to us and not feel like we have to scramble to make a certain move to fill a specific hole,” Schneider said. “I think we’ve addressed some things that we’re always looking to improve each and every day at every position.”
What’s it all mean? The Seahawks are set up to go any number of ways, and also all-but-assured of getting more players to upgrade the roster – especially with their picks in the first and second rounds.
“I think it’s a neat draft, a very unique draft,” Schneider said. “There are some very unique players up there in that first round. There’s a wide variety of players, whether it’s at the receiver position, on the offensive line, the defensive line – run-stuffers and pass-rushers. The corners are very interesting.”
Consider this draft a continuation of the youth movement that began when Carroll and Schneider were hired in January 2010. In their first draft, they selected a Pro Bowl free safety (Earl Thomas) and a left tackle (Russell Okung) in the first round, before adding a Pro Bowl strong safety (Kam Chancellor) and two other potential starters (wide receiver Golden Tate and cornerback Walter Thurmond) in the later rounds. Last year’s draft delivered the right side of the offensive line (Carpenter and guard John Moffitt); starters at outside linebacker (K.J. Wright) and cornerback (Richard Sherman); and picks pulsating with potential in wide receiver Kris Durham, cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Malcolm Smith – and don’t forget Doug Baldwin, who led the team in receiving as a rookie free agent and a player Carroll has referred to as “our eighth-round draft pick.”
“It’s a credit to our coaching staff, because they’re very willing to play young people and grow with them,” Schneider said.
Who joins this collection of draft-infused talent?
Looking to the mocks might be a decent place to start, just don’t write anything in stone.
“It’s exciting. It’s fun. It’s entertainment,” Schneider said. “I’m blessed to be part of it. The mocks are neat entertainment for everybody to read and kind of guess who going to go where. But really, at the end of the day, it’s very much how you can help your team and who’s going to come in and help you compete at every position and make your whole team better.”