The Seahawks enter the 2015 NFL Draft loaded with a League-high 11 picks, the most selections Executive VP/general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll have enjoyed heading into a draft since they took over in Seattle five seasons ago.
For the third consecutive year, the team does not have a pick in the first round after trading this year's choice (No. 31 overall) to the New Orleans Saints as part of the deal to acquire tight end Jimmy Graham. The Seahawks are without a pick until round two (No. 63 overall), meaning that barring a trade up the club will wait until the draft's second day to make its first selection.
But in a pre-draft press conference held last week at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center, Schneider said the Seahawks' healthy draft capital offers the team "a lot of flexibility" to either trade up, trade down, or stay put in the draft order.
"I think there's going to be some anxious people waiting until 63, with the names coming off," Schneider said of the NFL's annual event set for April 30 - May 2 in Chicago, Ill.
History tells us a move up the draft board - especially one that would put Seattle back in the first round - would be unusual for a Schneider- and Carroll-led Seahawks squad.
Since their first draft together in 2010, the pair has conducted 10 draft-day trades. Nine of those 10 have been trades down to attain more picks in the later rounds of the draft, including three separate deals down the draft board last year, or to snag talent from other teams, as the Seahawks did in 2010 when they moved a fifth-round pick to the New York Jets for the rights to running back Leon Washington. Seattle's one move up the board came in 2013, when the team dealt fifth- and sixth-round picks to the Detroit Lions to move up in the fifth round and select defensive tackle Jesse Williams.
It's a strategy that's served the Seahawks well when looking at the amount of quality talent Schneider and Carroll have managed to pluck from Rounds 4-7.
The fourth round has secured cornerback Walter Thurmond (2010), linebacker K.J. Wright (2011), and running back Robert Turbin (2012). The fifth-round has netted a pair of All-Pros in strong safety Kam Chancellor (2010) and cornerback Richard Sherman (2011), as well as productive-at-an-early-age tight end Luke Willson (2013). The sixth-round has seen Seattle select cornerbacks Byron Maxwell (2011) and Jeremy Lane (2012), while the seventh-round has provided Super Bowl XLVIII MVP linebacker Malcolm Smith (2011) and starting right guard J.R. Sweezy (2012).
But as stated at the start, the team's 11 picks are the most Schneider and Carroll have ever had to work with when entering a draft together with the Seahawks. Add to that fact the idea that 11 first-year players would likely have a hard time sticking on a Seahawks roster that has been to back-to-back Super Bowls and a move up the draft board could present more drawing power than it has in the past.
"We're not picking until 63, that's a lot of people to see come off your board, especially with the way the first rounds usually go," said Schneider. "It usually goes like everybody's been talking about for the last two or three months. There's this specific pattern and we see all the same guys.
"But then once you get into the second round, then it's kind of like very much up in the air. I think that's the most exciting part for us is, OK, here are these guys, we really like them, where do we move? Do we have to move up? Do we move back? Do we move up to get one of them? Do we move back and get two of them?"
Seahawks fans won't have to wait much longer to find out what the club decides to do.
The draft's first round gets underway this Thursday at 5 p.m. PT, with rounds two and three continuing Friday at 4 p.m., and wrapping up with rounds four through seven on Saturday starting at 9 a.m. You can follow live coverage of each day at Seahawks.com/live and stay up-to-date on the team's draft process at Seahawks.com/draft.