Skip to main content
Presented by

5 Things We Learned From The Seahawks 2024 Pre-Draft Press Conference

News and notes from Thursday’s press conference with assistant GM Nolan Teasley, VP of player personnel Trent Kirchner, senior director of player personnel Matt Berry & director of college scouting Aaron Hineline.

20240418_PRESSER-1 (1)

The Seahawks made a major change this offseason, hiring Mike Macdonald as the team's new head coach following an impressive 14-year run under Pete Carroll.

But while the coaching staff is almost entirely new, the player personnel department led by general manager and president of football operations John Schneider remains largely unchanged, and in fact includes several key members whose time with the organization predates the 2010 hirings of Schneider and Carroll.

So while there is plenty of newness around the Seahawks this offseason, the group leading the charge during next week's draft will be led by Schneider and several other seasoned talent evaluators who have been at it for more than a decade with the organization.

On Thursday, one week before the 2024 NFL Draft begins in Detroit, four key members of the player personnel department met with the media for a pre-draft press conference. Here are five things we learned from assistant general manager Nolan Teasley, vice president of player personnel Trent Kirchner, senior director of player personnel Matt Berry and director of college scouting Aaron Hineline during Thursday's press conference:

1. Continuity is "a huge advantage" when it comes to getting ready for the draft with a new coaching staff.

Not only is Schneider heading into this 15th draft as the team's general manager, plenty of other people involved in that process have been with the team for a long time as well, including Berry and Hineline, whose time with the team goes back to the Mike Holmgren era, and Kirchner, who joined the team in 2010.

That collective experience means that, as the personnel department is getting the coaching staff up to speed for the draft, the process will go smoothly.

"We're really fortunate, to have been together, most of us up on the stage, over 10 years and the group overall," Berry said. "We know each other really well. We know, when we're talking about certain things having to do with makeup of a prospect, what guys mean. When we're talking about talent, scheme, fit, we're able to talk the same language. That's a huge advantage. It's been an advantage with us as a group to be able to convey that to the coaching staff as well so that we're all talking the same language so that we can achieve alignment as we get to the finish line here next week."

2. While every coaching staff has different preferences, there won't be "stark changes" in what the Seahawks are looking for in the draft.

As Teasley explained, "What makes this unique is that it's our first draft with Coach Mike Macdonald and his staff. They've been absolutely awesome from the moment they walked through the door. We just finalized a really productive free agency period with them. It's just been really collaborative. We've enjoyed working with them hand in hand and looking forward to being more collaborative as we work through the draft process."

But while the coaching staff is different, the approach to the draft won't change a whole lot. Yes, some schematic difference might call for slightly different styles of players at certain positions, but overall the Seahawks are looking for the same key traits this year that they were in their previous 14 drafts under Schneider and Carroll.

"In terms of the process, I would say it's familiar," Teasley said. "We're going to work forward, move forward and work with the coaching staff and maybe get a little bit more specific as the process kind of develops and we get closer to the day. But I would say in terms of the evaluation process, this started, you know, in the summer last year. So we've maintained our consistency throughout. These guys are a huge part of it. Our staff in the back is a huge part of it, and I would say it's very familiar and that adds a level of comfort."

"There's only so much football. There's going to be some intricacies and some changes to scheme and system on both sides of the ball. But, again, there's only so much football so you're really looking for productive, smart, tough, reliable, fast, physical football players regardless. Again, you're getting into the intricacies, getting into the specifics, and that doesn't take long. That's just a pretty natural conversation. So, yeah, I don't see that being an issue. We're looking forward to a little bit of the change here and there. But I don't think it's going to be a stark contrast. But it's really positive and it's really exciting moving forward."

In addition to a change at head coach, this offseason also saw Schneider add the title of president of football operations, giving him final say on personnel matters, but that isn't expected to be a big change given how collaborative the process always has been and will continue to be between him and the head coach.

"(Schneider and Carroll) worked so well together that there were very few times… John was really in control on draft day and will continue to be," Teasley said. "Watching him live during draft day is really, really impressive in the way that he controls and commands and operates throughout the process. So, again, the process stays consistent, so I don't foresee there being a lot of change in that regard either."

One particular trait the new coaching staff has emphasized is versatility, something plenty of players currently on the roster provide.

"I wouldn't say that a lot changes," Teasley said. "One thing I would emphasize is versatility. I think they probably touched on it by retaining Leo (Williams), his ability to play up and down the line of scrimmage, depending on the front and personnel. I know a player we're really excited about, that they're excited about moving around is Dre'Mont Jones because of his ability off the edge, his ability to rush anywhere from the 3 (technique), to the 6, maybe even out to the 9. We feel like we have versatility throughout our roster. You talk about the back end with Julian Love and now Rayshawn Jenkins, we're truly nuanced at that safety position. Coby Bryant, who's a player that's going into his third year, but he's played outside corner, he's played nickel, he's played dime. So they've kind of identified some of that versatility that's already here, and we're excited about seeing what they can do with it."

3. The COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on college football continues to affect draft classes.

There have been three seasons of college football and three drafts since the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out much of the 2020 college football season, but because of the rule changes that came out of that time period, including extra years of eligibility, there continues to be an effect on draft classes as players continue to use that extra year.

"We're getting a lot more guys in the draft class," Hineline said. "Guys are taking more eligibility than they have in the past. We have more players to work through. But I would think it doesn't really change in a lot of ways. Does that make sense? The guys are still getting time to develop. More than anything else, it's really the transfer portal stuff that makes it difficult. Guys are transferring, they haven't been in one institution the entire time. So I would say it's more the transfer portal piece itself than the COVID piece, I would say. And then, you got new coaches with that as well. So, we're still a little lighter when it comes to numbers this year. But I think overall, the COVID stuff, I think, is up after this year. I think after this year or next year. The numbers will be much more back to normal, I think. I don't think it necessarily changes with guys, if that makes sense."

Added Berry, "I think you've seen it the last few years with kids going back to school using the COVID year, there are less and less players in the class. Obviously, that will thin out the back. And then the UDFA class is different. I think we have one more year of that, next year, and then it will be back, as Aaron talked about, to normal numbers. But there's always players. It's about identifying the role fit and then the culture fit, and those guys tend to be successful if you identify both those things."

4. Analytics is taking on an increasing role in the draft process.

As mentioned earlier, a lot of the people involved in the draft process for the Seahawks have been at it for a long time, but that doesn't mean they aren't evolving every year. One example is the increasing use of analytics, with director of research and analytics Patrick Ward and senior football research analyst Becca Erenbaum both having a voice in draft meetings.

"I think we've incorporated analytics more and more each and every year," Kirchner said. "Patrick Ward and Becca have done a good job of sitting in the draft meetings and interjecting when their opinion doesn't exactly match up with ours. So that's been probably one of the biggest differences throughout the process, just the incorporation of analytics."

Asked what types of information those two add, Kirchner said, "Now you get more GPS from colleges, probably the biggest thing. There's PFF stuff that goes into it. We don't care about the grades… It's more just in terms of yards after catch, the smaller stuff like that, it's been more accessible recently than in the past."

5. How offseason acquisitions affect (or don't affect) draft decisions.

The Seahawks made plenty of moves this offseason in free agency to fill some needs on their roster, and also made a trade to acquire quarterback Sam Howell not long after losing Drew Lock in free agency. The goal of those moves this year and every year are to supplement the roster and keep the Seahawks from feeling like they're forced to draft a particular position, but they don't preclude the Seahawks from looking at quarterback or any other position.

"The goal during free agency, it's been tried and true and year after year, is that's not how you build," Teasley said. "It's an opportunity to supplement your roster. And that was the goal, including the Sam Howell trade, is to supplement our roster and get to a point where we don't feel we need to force anything and all options are on the table, whether we're talking about a player at a position or our ability to move up and down the draft. I think we achieved that. We're excited about what we did, excited about what we're going to be able to do next weekend and moving forward. Even after the draft. All options on the table, and excited about that."

Another recent addition to the team that bolsters what was a position of need is veteran left guard Laken Tomlinson, a 2021 Pro Bowler who has started every game since Week 2 of the 2017 season, playing 100 percent of his team's offensive snaps in all but four of those 114 games.

"We're excited about Laken," Teasley said. "That was a really good acquisition for us because all that guy does is play football. You talk about the best ability being availability. We're talking about 130-plus starts for him, (114) in a row. He doesn't miss time and he's been a key cog of some good offensive lines that we're familiar with down in San Francisco, and we're happy he's a Seahawk moving forward."

Teasley also spoke about new linebacker Tyrel Dodson and Jerome Baker, two more players added this offseason to a position of need.

"We've got two good athletes," he said. "Both have had the opportunity to wear the green dot. Dodson with Coach Leslie Frazier in Buffalo. You talk about communication, you talk about athleticism, you talk about coverage awareness and the athlete, they've put that on full display, and Dodson's always had value in the kicking game. So we're pleased with where that position group is, and we've got some young depth level players that we're excited about too."

The Seahawks finished their second week of offseason workouts on Thursday, April 18, 2024 at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Check out the 12 best photos from their workout.

Related Content