John Schneider And Pete Carroll Discuss The Seahawks' 2017 NFL Draft Class

What we learned from Seahawks general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll on the final day of the 2017 NFL Draft.

The Seahawks came into the 2017 draft with only seven picks, which would have represented their lowest total in eight drafts under Seahawks general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll had they stuck with those picks. Instead, the Seahawks use three trades to add an additional four picks, allowing them to draft 11 players Friday and Saturday, which matched the highest number of players the Seahawks have picked during Carroll and Schneider's tenure in Seattle.

And it wasn't just that Schneider and Carroll were excited with the number of players they were able to add, they're also thrilled with the quality of players who became Seahawks over the weekend. When the dust had settled Saturday afternoon, the Seahawks had added a pair of defensive linemen, including Michigan State's Malik McDowell with their first pick, four defensive backs, two offensive linemen, two receivers and one running back. They'll also bring in more rookies as undrafted free agents to create a large rookie class that will compete with veterans for roster spots and starting jobs.

"The way the whole draft turned out—I said this last night about John maneuvering around to get us the picks—it's great to have 11 guys coming in this draft class," Carroll said. "We're really excited about what happened in free agency as well and to blend this all together as well. We're always trying to make this roster more and more competitive in every way we can, and these guys are coming in to battle. Our guys will all feel it, and it's good, it's good for all of us and makes us all better."

Added Schneider: "We feel really blessed to be able to move back, take our guy (McDowell), and acquire a couple more picks. That's probably the biggest accomplishment. Then we just followed our board. Offensively, defensively, there's so much work that goes into this. It isn't like we just turned on YouTube videos and watched them and here we go. There's a lot, it's not just the evaluation, it's not just the football evaluation, it's the psychological aspects, medical, our sports science guys did a great job trying to project durability, longevity. Being able to just sit there throughout and follow our board, I think that's probably the biggest thing."

In addition to the Seahawks being happy with their ability to add picks, here are seven things we learned from Schneider and Carroll's session with the media following the conclusion of the draft:

1. This was a "defensive-back heavy draft."

The Seahawks selected four defensive backs, all in their first eight picks, but while Carroll had discussed that as a position of need heading into the offseason, the Seahawks didn't necessarily intend on going with that many before the draft began. Instead, their board just fell in a way that they saw value in corners and safeties in the middle rounds.

"It was really a defensive-back heavy draft and it's just the way the board came off," Schneider said. "We didn't want to start just jumping players. That's when you get in trouble. We just really stuck to our board." 

Colorado safety Tedric Thompson, Seattle's first pick on Saturday morning, has what Schneider described as "phenomenal ball skills. I think he led the country in passes defensed.  He has great feet, coverage skills, competitor.  He's got really good range, really good short-area quickness. He's a really interesting guy; kind of a well-rounded dude." 

Those ball skills, which helped Thompson pile up 13 interceptions at Colorado, are important to a team that puts such a big emphasis on turnovers.  

"It's a big deal," Carroll said. "He's a ball hawk. That's a big deal. Not just the balls that he's stolen, but the ones he's knocked down, and he's always around the football. That's a huge priority for us always. (Turnovers) have to do with pass rush, too. That's why we started where we started with the draft. That was a big consideration."

2. Defensive back positions are not set in stone.  

While third-round pick Shaquill Griffin will play his listed position of cornerback and Thompson will come in as a free safety, Seattle's two other defensive back picks could get a look at multiple spots.

In particular, Schneider and Carroll confirmed that sixth-round pick Mike Tyson, a safety at Cincinnati, will come in to compete as an outside cornerback.

"Mike Tyson basically fits the profile that we've been looking for since we've been here as a corner," Schneider said. "He's a big, tough, aggressive guy that, based on what we've seen, has really good coverage skills. He has primarily played inside—he played a lot of nickel for them last year, he got his hands on a lot of balls. He has great ball skills and really strong in run support." 

Asked what they see in Tyson to play him at corner, Schneider said, "His feet, his length. He has 32½-inch arms. He's almost 6-foot-2. He has really cool feet, really good movement skills, feel for routes. And then the ball skills, being able to reach for the ball upon contact."

Carroll also indicated that third-round pick Delano Hill, another college safety, could get a look at corner.  

"Guys who have been in the slot and played on guys, it really tells us something," Carroll said. "Hill has done that as well. He's been a guy who has covered a lot of slots. It just shows you their versatility and comfort with working with the quicker, smaller guys. These guys are all different; they have their own style of athleticism, their own makeup, and after all of these years looking at it, we try to determine if the guy fits. It doesn't always work out, and sometimes we are free to go ahead and move it around. I would not at all mind seeing what Delano did covering wide receivers on the line of scrimmage, as big and strong as he is, too. There's always kind of a portion of the process where we're looking at them in their coverage aspect of it just to see that we don't miss it, because it is so important to find those guys."

3. The Seahawks have a lot of options at offensive line.  

After taking versatile LSU lineman Ethan Pocic in the second round, the Seahawks added Mississippi State tackle Justin Senior in the sixth-round Saturday, giving them two rookies to join a line that includes four returning starters, two free-agent additions in Luke Joeckel and Oday Aboushi, and other young returning players who could compete for playing time, most notably second-year guard/tackle Rees Odhiambo, a third-round pick last year.

In offseason workouts and throughout camp, the line will be a position group to watch, not just because there are so many players competing for starting jobs and roster spots, but because several of them are options at multiple positions. At different points this offseason, Carroll and Schneider have mentioned Joeckel as an option at left tackle or left guard, two positions where Odhiambo can also compete with returning starters George Fant and Mark Glowinski. Ifedi is an option at right tackle and right guard, Pocic can play almost anywhere on the line, and Senior will get a look at both tackle spots.

"Getting Ethan was really an important part of this because like I said, he had the most versatility," Carroll said. "We'll see how that works out, but we do know that he can do some backup stuff, whether we feature him at the spot. The center thing is really connected to us and we like that, but he's played on both sides of the line of scrimmage and all that, so we're going to fit it together with the thought that, with time, we'll get it worked out. That's a real positive for us going in, we're not feeling like we're stuck or forced to do anything right now. Ifedi is going to play some tackle for us again and we'll see how that works, we're going to put this together. It's going to be interesting to see where Luke fits in. Luke is a terrific football player. We are very fortunate to have him. He's not quite healthy yet—when we get to phase three [of the offseason program] he won't be able to practice much—but in the next couple weeks he'll do some stuff on the field and get to show us. He has been a starting left tackle in the league and drafted to do that and he has been a starting left guard. It gives us great flexibility there, too, to see how George develops and all that. It's going to be really exciting to put this thing together."

4. The Seahawks are deep at receiver.  

The Seahawks came into the draft in pretty good shape at receiver, but that didn't stop them from looking to add talent and competition to the group. Seattle added Michigan's Amara Darboh in the third round, then looked to unearth a small-school gem by taking David Moore out of Division II East Central University (Okla.) in the seventh round. And in addition to competing for playing time at receiver, Moore and Darboh will be expected to contribute on special teams if they want a spot on the roster, something that has been the norm for Seahawks receivers, even Pro Bowler Doug Baldwin.

"Good, solid guys," Carroll said. "Darboh is a really good solid kid and we're really fired up about these guys. We think that David is a stud of a receiver. He's 219 pounds and he runs really fast and he's really physical. Both of those guys, what I'm really excited about, is that they can both contribute on special teams. All of our receivers we have grown through here have been big factors on teams, and that was a theme, as we were looking, that the guys that we wanted were able to hit that."

On finding Moore, Schneider said, "(Midlands area scout) Aaron Hineline did a great job. It's his school to cover, and he spent a lot of time with the kid, he was really excited about him. We brought him out here for a visit, and spent a lot of time with him and with our docs, and team psychologist and the rest of our staff. He's a really cool kid, very tough, very aggressive. Like Pete said, he's like 222 pounds, running 4.43. Maybe 4.38, depends on the watch."

5. Carroll "fell in love" with Chris Carson's toughness.

It's no secret that Carroll is a big fan of physical running backs, so as the seventh round wound down, he was really hoping the Seahawks would be able to add Oklahoma State's Chris Carson. Carson might have been the Seahawks' last pick and the fifth-to-last selection in the entire draft, but he was a significant addition in Carroll's eyes nonetheless.

"I was hanging on Chris Carson," Carroll said. "He's a guy that I found looking through the stuff late in the draft, kind of like we've done over the years. I really love this guy because he is so physical and tough the way he ran. You haven't heard a whole lot about him, he hasn't run the ball a lot, but when he did, he, to me, made a great statement of his style and a style that we really covet.

"It's really the same kind of formula (as finding Thomas Rawls). I kind of caught on to him late. I fell in love with how tough he is, and how aggressive he is. That's something that kind of falls in that same category, and we didn't want to miss him. There was a lot of activity around him, we thought, so we got him with that last shot, there."

Take a behind-the-scenes look inside Seahawks headquarters on the third and final day of the 2017 NFL Draft.

6. The Seahawks "feel strong" about their roster depth after the draft.  

Asked to compare how he felt about his team's roster compared to where things stood at this time last year, Carroll said, "I feel strong about it. I think the linebacker help, the offensive line helped, look what we've done. We've done some great stuff up front to make it more competitive. We've boosted the competition, obviously in the DB room, but also at the receiver side of it. Also the things that have happened in free agency as well as the draft, so I feel like it's really going to be a competitive go. Also, you don't want to miss the D-line thing. Those two guys are going to be a big deal for us in making it harder for everybody, and that's good."

Yet for all the Seahawks have done to improve the roster thus far in free agency and the draft, they aren't content to head into the season with who they have now. They'll continue to shop in free agency and monitor any cuts made around the league by other teams.

"This is just one aspect of acquisition that happens to be the most, the biggest, and the most well covered," Schneider said. "We don't stop. We compete at every corner. There's no finish line. We're going to continue to evaluate the guys we have, all the guys are coming in as tryout guys. You guys have seen us sign many tryout guys with the rookie mini-camp as well, then we'll head into the post-June area and see if there's cap-casualty guys involved and then we get to the 53 and see if anybody's cut there that can help us. It really, quite frankly, never stops."

7. The Seahawks are "really counting on" last year's rookie class to make a leap in Year 2.

One reason Carroll and Schneider like this year's roster is because in addition to what they added this offseason in free agency and the draft, they're also expecting to get a lot more from last year's rookie class as those players continue to develop, and in some cases return to health.

 "Yeah, really, we're really counting on George [Fant] and [Germain] Ifedi and Rees [Odhiambo]," Carroll said. "We thought Rees was a heck of a player in the draft last year, we still believe that, and he's really ready to compete to start and play. Nick [Vannett] at tight end for sure… We get Quinton [Jefferson] back too. That whole turn that we think is coming is going to a real boost, as well. We're excited about that."

Added Schneider: "C.J. [Prosise]—we just have to get these guys out there. The coaches haven't even been able to put their hands on them yet. These are guys that you would expect once they make the turn to have upside."


Photos of the 11 draft picks the Seahawks selected in the 2017 NFL Draft.

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