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Seahawks Approach Combine & Draft With 'A Lot Of Energy, A Lot Of New Ideas'

Draft season kicks into a higher gear next week with the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, an event that will have a slightly different feel for the Seahawks in 2024.


Around this time every offseason, Seahawks scouts get together with coaches to get ready for the upcoming draft.

For president of football operations/general manager John Schneider and the rest of the player personnel department, the draft is a year-round process, but for coaches, the offseason is a catch up on an upcoming draft class, and that's the case every offseason. The big difference for the Seahawks this year, of course, is that Schneider and company are going through this process with a new coaching staff led by head coach Mike Macdonald.

"The difference is, for 14 years, we had a pretty good feel for the scheme, what they like in the scheme, so we're learning that with Mike and his staff," said senior director of player personnel Matt Berry. "There's some difference that we'll have to iron out post-combine all the way through April as we talk through players.

"It's a really interesting discussion, because the bottom line is it's our job to get the players that fit his scheme and what he's looking for, that's how it works best, and in alignment with our culture. And culturally, we're in pretty good alignment from where we've been. We're still looking for highly competitive guys that are about football, about the process, smart, tough and reliable, none of that changes."

A change in coaching staff presents some new challenges for the player personnel department, but it also is an exciting time in the building as everyone gets to know each other and learn from people with different perspectives and coaching experiences.

"It's fun," Berry said. "There's a lot of energy, a lot of new ideas, guys who have been a lot of different places, we're getting to learn from their experiences, we're getting to share our experiences—where they've had success, where they've had failure; where we've had success, where we've had failure. We're getting to bring a bunch of different ideas together, which is exciting."

With a new coaching staff coming together, there is a lot of work to be done, not the least of which is putting a playbook together and preparing for offseason workouts, which, because of the coaching change, includes an extra voluntary minicamp in April. Because coaches have so much work to do in that regard, they won't be joining the player personnel department in Indianapolis for this year's combine, a change from how the Seahawks have done things in the past, but also a choice several NFL teams have made in recent years.

"It's a really cool mix of brain power, creativeness, youth, experience with Kennedy (Polamalu) and obviously Leslie Frazier," Schneider said Thursday on Seattle Sports 710AM when asked about the process of building a coaching staff. "It's cool, it's exciting. It's different ideas and different philosophies all mixed together. Everybody's coming together, they're getting to a point where it's going to be all ball now, they're just focused on implementing their system, so they're not going to the combine next week, they're all going to be here 24/7 installing everything that needs to get installed. It's basically a race to April 8 when the players come in. Mike had coached in the AFC Championship Game, so there was a little bit of a feeling that we were behind the eight ball a little bit, so getting caught up."

While the combine has always been an event more geared towards scouting departments than coaches anyway, there will be some difference for the Seahawks this year, most notably in the formal interviews with prospects, which in the past were usually led by Pete Carroll and assistant coaches. Now interviews will be led by the likes of Berry, vice president of player personnel Trent Kirchner, director of college scouting Aaron Hineline and assistant director of college scouting Jason Barnes.

"It'll change a little bit the way we conduct our formal interviews," said Berry.

But beyond that, Berry doesn't see a huge change, noting that coaches will still be able to watch video of all the combine workouts and interviews, and will also have chances to meet with prospects who come to the Virginia Mason Athletic Center for pre-draft visits.

"Honestly not a whole lot (changes)," Berry said. "Everyone watches the workouts on tape, and our coaches will interview potential draft picks here, and a lot of potential UDFAs, so they'll have a very good feel for the players that we're going to potentially select, and we'll have a good feel about their conviction for those players."

One potential benefit of the recent coaching change is that several members of the staff are familiar with several prospects at the combine, including players from the two colleges best represented at the combine, Michigan and Washington. Macdonald was defensive coordinator at Michigan, which has 18 players scheduled to attend, in 2021, while special teams coordinator Jay Harbaugh was at Michigan since 2015, coaching multiple positions on offense and defense in addition to his duties as special teams coordinator, and outside linebackers coach Chris Partridge was there last year and also from 2015-2019. Washington has 13 players scheduled to attend the combine, second most only to Michigan, which means offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb and offensive line coach Scott Huff should have plenty of information on the Huskies draft hopefuls.

"Any context you can get from their experiences with the players is obviously helpful," Berry said. "They've been around them a lot more than we have, so you lean on them in those instances. We're always driving towards trying to figure out the competitor, how passionate they are about being football players, and being about ball versus being about the attention they get, and finding players who are smart, tough and reliable."

Before they were selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL Draft, they were hopeful prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine. Take a look at current and former Seahawks players participating in their Combine events.

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