The Seahawks headed into the second day of the draft with no second-round pick, meaning a long wait Friday, but by the time the evening ended, head coach and general manager John Schneider were excited with how things turned out, with Seattle landing USC defensive end Rasheem Green in the third round while also adding a seventh-round pick, giving them eight picks in Rounds 4-7.
“It was an exciting day,” Schneider said, before sarcastically adding. “The second round was amazing… They were just coming off like, ‘OK, see you guys. Look forward to playing against you.’”
When it was finally Seattle’s turn to pick at No. 76 overall, the Seahawks made a trade with Pittsburgh, moving back three spots while also picking up a seventh-round pick (220 overall). And with Pick No. 79, Seattle added the 6-foot-4, 275-pound Green, a 20-year-old defensive end from USC with considerable upside considering his age.
“He’s going to improve his pass rush for sure,” Carroll said. “Just all of the finesse part of it, he’s just new at it. And he’ll grow more, he’ll get stronger the next couple of years. I bet he’ll play 15 pounds heavier in the next two years, which will help him in the run game. But he’s quick now, he’s a quick slasher type of guy, he’s not a load-up, heavy-duty type of run defender. We’ll play him in positions where he can utilize that. He’s just going to fill out more and just learn all the nuances that can make him a special player.”
Being a young player with upside doesn’t mean Green is some sort of project who didn’t produce in college. Playing both end and tackle for the Trojans, Green started all 14 games last season and earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors after recording a team-high 12.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. He also recorded six sacks in 2016 and started 12 games.
In particular, the Seahawks like Green’s versatility, which will allow him to play both defensive end and as an interior pass-rusher.
“Our expectation is that we’re going to play him at 5-technique (end), play him at defensive end, and use him as an inside rusher as well in nickel situations, then we’ll see what that brings us, but that’s the thought right now,” Carroll said. “We need a little help there, so it’s a good get for us… (His versatility) is very important for us. We’ll definitely have some options here. He’s really young, he’s a 20-year-old kid, and he’s from a great school down there, Serra High School. He’s got a lot of potential to grow. We’ll move him all around and figure it out.”
Green very well might have been gone before the third round if not for some concerns over an old high school injury, but Carroll and Schneider said the team’s medical staff evaluated him thoroughly and are confident that past injuries won’t be a problem.
“The only reason he fell is because he had a little bit of a medical downgrade with an issue,” Schneider said. “We brought him in, our doctors were able to put their hands on him twice, give him a great exam here. He was able to spend some extra time with our coaches—we got to know him a little bit even better than we did. I’m sure he thought he was going to go higher. We like guys like that… It’s interesting, we have an orthopedic medical grade then we have a durability grade we use as well with our sports science guys, and he has a very solid durability grade. We’re excited about that.”
Added Carroll: “It’s an old high school injury and he’s been playing with it for years. He doesn’t even think of it as being an injury.”
By moving back a few spots before nabbing Green, the Seahawks picked up an additional seventh-round pick, meaning Saturday will be an eventful day for Seattle, which picks once in fourth round, four times in the fifth round, once in the sixth round and twice in the seventh round. After that, the Seahawks will sign a group of undrafted rookie free agents, a process they consider an extension of the draft, and one that in past years has landed them eventual starters such as Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and DeShawn Shead.
“We’re excited and ready to get ripping for tomorrow,” Schneider said. “We’ve got eight picks for tomorrow and getting ready to hit rookie free agency.
“That’s our favorite part, because what happens is that the league tends to see everything pretty similar through those first three rounds. Then—we call them upsets—you start seeing guys come from a medical board or a non-scheme fit board, the free agent board. We call them upsets, and you start seeing more of those, and your board starts staying the same. We’re just going to continue to take our type of guys all the way through the rest of the way. Then the other part of it is our personnel staff and our coaches do an awesome job of recruiting the guys and we have a track record in rookie free agency for players being confident enough to come in and know they’re going to be able to compete, because they’ve seen the Doug Baldwins and the Kearses come in and play significant roles as rookie free agents. So we’re really excited about that part too. Tomorrow’s really—I know it’s hard for you guys to think about it this way—it’s really our biggest day.”
Friday also passed with Earl Thomas remaining a member of the Seahawks, seemingly bringing to end trade speculation that had been rampant throughout the pre-draft process.
Schneider and Carroll have been open all along that they would at least listen to offers—“We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t,” Schneider said—but nothing came close to getting done Friday, they said.
“Earl’s a great football player,” Carroll said. “You may have looked at it like he wasn’t going to be here; we didn’t look at it like that. That has been a lot of speculation on your guys’ end of this thing. We’ve just counted on Earl being here the whole time… Thrilled to have an All-Pro guy back here. Awesome.”
Schneider added, “Yeah, we talked to a number of clubs about him. It’s just kind of out there, and you listen… I think what happened, at the combine I was asked about it, and we’re being honest that we listen to everything, and that’s where it stands. We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t.”
But when asked if anything was close to happening, Schneider gave a one-word answer, saying, “no.”
Added Carroll, “It’s not even a topic really. He’s our guy.”
The Seahawks head into the final day of the draft with eight picks in rounds 4-7:
Round 4: 120
Round 5: 141, 146, 156, 168
Round 6: 186
Round 7: 220, 226
Check out photos of USC defensive end Rasheem Green, who the Seahawks selected with the No. 79 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.