When it comes to the NFL Draft, players take plenty of different paths to make it in the League, and there's ample evidence of that sitting on Seattle's roster.
From early-round draftees like linebacker Bobby Wagner, who the Seahawks selected in the second round in 2012, to late-round steals like strong safety Kam Chancellor, who Seattle took in the fifth round in 2010, to free-agent finds like defensive back DeShawn Shead, who signed with the Seahawks after going undrafted in 2012, Seattle has enjoyed success under general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll in finding talent at all levels of the NFL's annual selection process.
Each player's draft day experience, though, can differ significantly, especially depending on where each winds up being picked, or in some cases, not picked.
For Wagner, who watched the 2012 draft unfold with family at his Ontario, California home, he went into the week feeling "calm" knowing he had done everything in his power during the pre-draft process to make NFL personnel circles notice. Wagner received a phone call from Seattle's Schneider on day two of the draft and said he "celebrated" with loved ones when he found out the Seahawks were going to choose him with the No. 47 overall pick.
Chancellor, meanwhile, said he entered draft week with a feeling of "anxiousness." As day one and two of the draft came and went without his name being called, he said he grew weary of friends and family asking him when he was going to get picked. "Everybody's expectations just getting on your nerves," Chancellor recalled. But day three came with a phone call with Carroll, who had a message for Chancellor as the Seahawks readied to use the No. 133 overall pick on the Virginia Tech product: "He said we don't want you to do nothing but the same thing you were doing at Tech, bringing that aggressiveness. I said, "I got you coach.'"
Then there's Shead, who said the "biggest selling point" on his signing with Seattle after going undrafted in 2012 came down to the Seahawks being the only team open to trying him at the two positions he played in college at Portland State: cornerback and safety. "I was somewhat hesitant about going somewhere just for safety," said Shead. "But when Seattle gave me the opportunity to be able to play multiple positions, I just saw that as a chance for more opportunity for me to make this team, and now I'm sitting here today a two-time NFC champion, won one Super Bowl, played free safety, strong safety, I've played corner, I've played nickel. Started games at all of them, so it was the best choice I've made."
With those back stories in mind, and the start of the 2016 NFL Draft set for Thursday night, here's a little bit more draft-day memories and conversation with the Seahawks' Wagner, Chancellor, and Shead:
What do you remember about the year you entered the NFL Draft?
Wagner: "The funny thing is I got a call from a team with a pick after the Seahawks, saying they were going to pick me at that pick, so I was getting ready to tell my family. But then I saw a 425 number call me and was like, 'Man, that's Seattle.' When I answered they were like, 'We're about to pick you.' I was super excited because I wanted to stay on the West Coast and Seattle's on the West Coast, so it wasn't far from my family and I was pretty excited. ... The conversations I remember were coach [Ken] Norton's because when he interviewed me he was definitely one of the hardest interviews that I went through. So when he called me he said he was basically testing me, seeing how I would handle under pressure and stuff like that. He told me I passed that day, so I was happy that it wasn't going to be like that for the rest of the time here."
Chancellor: "I just remember being with my family in a hotel conference room back home in Virginia and we all were just watching T.V., waiting to see when I was going to get picked up. Thought I was going to go a little earlier, but it didn't work out that way. We were in there for three days and I was picked on the third day. We kept coming back and the numbers kept falling short every time we came back with the people that were there with me. The last day it was just all family. They called my name and everybody just started crying."
Shead: "I was anticipating on being drafted in one of the later rounds, so I got my family together at home in Palmdale, California. Just a small, little thing. Was waiting on the draft: day one went, day two went, and I figured I'd probably get drafted day three. So we were just sitting there waiting and actually get a call from Seattle on day three and they told me they had a couple picks left. Then the draft came and went. I didn't get no call or anything. But immediately after the draft I got multiple calls from multiple teams from all over the NFL. Seattle called as well and really wanted me. I made the choice to come to Seattle because they actually told me they want to try to find a position for me, whether it was at corner or it was at safety. A lot of other teams that wanted me wanted me just for safety alone. ... So because of that opportunity Seattle said they wanted to bring me in, they wanted to look for a spot for me to play, as opposed to we want you to play safety, I came to Seattle and it was the best choice I've made. Since then I've started games at safety and corner and nickel, so they did exactly what they said. They tried to find a spot for me and now I'm sitting here today going into camp as a corner."
Do you use where you were drafted, or weren't drafted, as motivation?
Wagner: "I definitely use it [as motivation] because at the end of the day what person doesn't want to be a first round pick? I've always paid attention to who got picked ahead of me, but at the end of the day it's a blessing to be picked at all. I've came across a lot of guys - because this team is built with a lot of undrafted guys - that didn't even have that experience. So I'm grateful that I got to get that experience."
Chancellor: "I did my first year, but I learned to embrace where I was picked and the route that I've been chosen to take. They say everything happens for a reason and I might not have had this much success if I went anywhere else, so I just learned to embrace it and not look back. Just keep going forward."
Shead: "It's in there. It's one of the things that helps me get motivated. But I'm the type of guy where I was like whether I get drafted or not I just need my foot in the door and I'm going to make my way myself. It's on me if I don't make the team. All I needed was my foot in the door. But I definitely wanted to get drafted. That's definitely some of my motivation to this day. Sometimes a lot of politics play into it. People that get drafted get a little bit more benefits than people that aren't drafted, but that's been the story of my life. I'm a hard worker, been that way all my life. I'm a big believer in hard work paying off, so actually coming in undrafted just sparked a little bit more fire for me to work even harder than I was, and that could be a reason why I'm still standing here today."
What advice would you give to the incoming draft class of 2016?
Wagner: "I would say relax. Don't do nothing crazy to get yourself in trouble and if you feel like you did everything possible that's in your control to get yourself drafted, or put yourself in position to get an opportunity, then you live with that. Everything else is out of your control. You can't control what teams are going to do with trades and who picks what. All you can control is taking advantage of the opportunity when you get it."
Chancellor: "I would say just relax. Relax and let God take the wheel. Wherever you get picked all you hope for is an opportunity, and when you get that opportunity, whether it's being drafted or undrafted, be ready to take advantage of your opportunity. Be prepared when you do get that chance. But relax until then. Let God take the wheel."
Shead: "The advice I'd say to them is one simple thing: hard work pays off. If you can get your foot in the door, don't let it be a reason that your effort or your attitude be the reason why you don't make the team."
Pete Carroll and John Schneider have drafted 10 players in the second and third round of the NFL draft, eight of which are still on the current Seahawks roster.