Before the 2021 NFL draft had even come to an end, Seahawks general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll sat down for a press conference to recap their weekend.
"We're not picking anymore," Schneider quipped as the seventh round went on.
It was, perhaps, a fitting end to a draft in which the Seahawks made only three picks, the smallest draft class in team history and tied for the second smallest in the common-draft era. Carroll and Schneider were free to talk to the media because they were out of picks, having used their seventh-round pick to move up in the sixth round to select Florida tackle Stone Forsythe. Earlier in the day, the Seahawks moved back in the fourth-round, adding a sixth-round pick in the process, then drafted Oklahoma cornerback Tre Brown.
And with those two picks and a couple of trades, a draft unlike any other was over for the Seahawks, who also added Western Michigan receiver D'Wayne Eskridge in the second-round. The 2021 draft was so strange for the Seahawks not just because they had three picks, but because the evaluation process was so different due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It really did (feel different)," Schneider said. "Unique is the word we keep using, right? It was just very interesting to watch everybody work their way through this draft, and to talk to other teams, and how they viewed things and how they felt about their team… We're going to be approaching this now like, OK, who's going to be letting go after the draft, what does that look like? The different phases of free agency. It was definitely an odd year. There are still a bunch of rookie free agents that we're really interested in."
After giving a rundown on second-round pick D’Wayne Eskridge the night before, Carroll and Schneider recapped their final two picks on Saturday.
"We feel really excited about what we did," Schneider said. "We're really excited about Tre, excited about his competitiveness… Then, Stone, it seemed like forever we waited for Stone, we tried trading up forever to get him. Monster of a man, all business. Pretty quiet, not a real vocal guy, but just a real professional that is a two-year starter at Florida. Big man, super long arms. Hard for people to run the hump on him. The guy runs the track especially well with our new offense. We can see him as a big person out there running and getting outside. Just really excited, proud of everybody upstairs and what they did—coaches, personnel guys, it was a very productive draft, and now we're getting ready to start the second phase of it."
When it comes to Brown, who at 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, is smaller than the Seahawks usually likes his corners, his play at Oklahoma was impressive enough for the Seahawks to overlook any shortcomings in stature.
"I'm sure Tre Brown would love to be 6-foot-2, and if he was 6-foot-2 he would be picked in the Top 10," Schneider said. "You can see him every weekend running all over the place in the Big 12 with all these receivers and all the speed that's out there and competing his tail off. Yes, we would love to have big corners and all that, and we did, remember, when we got here, but you have to adjust to the times, too, and there is only a certain amount of players that you can pick from. And more about the person, as we talked about last night (with Eskridge), this guy's a true competitor. He's on the upswing, he's overcome a lot. Tulsa guy, he's got a confidence about him and a competitiveness that we love and we treasure."
And while Brown may look more like a nickel corner in Seattle's defense, Carroll made it clear they see him as an outside corner, adding "we didn't draft him as a nickel." And just as the 5-foot-9 D.J. Reed showed last season that some corners can overcome a lack of height and thrive as an outside corner in Seattle's defense, the Seahawks see Brown as a player capable of handling that role in the NFL.
"We've played with the tallest, longest guys you could play, and we've played with guys at the other end of the spectrum," Carroll said. "D.J. showed really well. D.J.'s not the tallest guy in the world, but he's a heck of a football player and he showed that he could find his way to get through it. Tre plays with great aggressiveness and attack and he's always after the football. Very much like D.J. plays, so we'll see how that works… We're excited about this guy, he's a special teamer as well. He gets after it in the running game, he's a good tackler. He's a well-rounded player."
And while Brown is unique in how his play can allow him to overcome a lack of ideal size, Forsythe is unique in that he is a very large man, even by NFL tackle standards, checking in a 6-foot-8.
"Stone was a guy that because of his uniqueness, he's really a unique player," Carroll said. "I mean how many times have I said that to you guys, we're always looking for traits and he really brings a great level of potential in what he brings. He's played a lot of football. He's had over 1,000 pass rushes against him in the SEC, his numbers are really good; his stats are really good in pass protection. He can come off the football, he runs pretty well, he runs well for a big guy. So, he moves all right. We just have to get him where he's coming off the football the way we want to."
Forsythe is a player who some draft pundits though could go as high as Round 2 or 3, and when he was still around in the sixth round, the Seahawks started making calls to see if they could move up and get him. Schneider said they also consider another trade back in the fourth round to get more picks with Forsythe in mind, but feared a second trade back could cost them a chance to get Brown.
"Just from an ammunition standpoint, being able to work your way up, I think it was in the early 190s where we felt like we had enough to go try," Schneider said. "Then from there we just started the whole time. There was a situation where we could have gone back even further after we worked with Tampa (in the fourth round), to see if we could get Tre a little bit later, which we just decided that was not the thing to do, we needed to just pick Tre, but with the thought of acquiring another pick to try to get up to go get Stone. So I want to say it was in the 190s that we tried, and then it literally seemed like two hours… It seemed like forever."