Seahawks general manager John Schneider was on Sports Radio KJR this morning, and in addition to talking about the work he and his wife, Traci are doing with Ben's Fund http://bensfund.seahawks.com/, which he called, "a special calling for Traci and I," Schneider also talked plenty about Seattle's offseason and the upcoming draft.
Most notably, Schneider said of the 2016 draft, "Just from a numbers standpoint, this is the best draft since we've been here. Since 2010, sheer numbers—we usually have about 130 or 140 guys on our board, this year we're going to have about 200, which is a lot."
Now, that doesn't mean the 2016 draft will produce as many Pro Bowlers or starters for the Seahawks as previous drafts have, but it does mean the Seahawks should have plenty of talented players to choose from throughout the draft.
"Usually we have from 120 to 140 players on our board," Schneider told KJR's Mitch Levy. "2010, that was a good draft, and in our opinion, this is the best one since, just from a pure numbers standpoint. Now there's different shelves and dips all the way throughout the draft, and this is no different in that regard, but from a pure numbers standpoint, this is a good one.
Schneider also talked about how those shelves and dips in the draft can affect the draft board, as can the current state of Seattle's roster. The idea of always drafting the proverbial "best player available" just isn't realistic throughout a draft.
"We're definitely in a growth mindset, so we grade for our team, we don't grade for the league," Schneider said. "… We grade for what our team looks like. What ends up happening, you just have specific positions that are pushed, if you will. Like the year we took (James Carpenter), everybody thought we took Carp too high. Well, we had a specific need, so that's why he was moved up. That's the way we've done it over the years. We have the same process, we grade the same way, our grading scale is the same, but we're always looking towards the future in terms of, how do we address who's coming up as a free agent, who can compete at left guard or who can compete at center or left tackle? Those are the things we focus on instead of saying, 'OK, this guy's a first rounder, why is he a first-rounder? Here's a description of a first rounder.'"
That isn't to say the Seahawks feel like they "reached" on Carpenter, a starter at both right tackle and left guard before signing with the Jets in free agency, or on any other player, but rather that particular players are graded higher to begin with based on the current roster.
"I would say our grades reflect what our team looks like," Schneider said.
This isn't a new revelation from Schneider—he and others in the organization have said the same thing for years—but it's still worth remembering at this time of year. The idea of simply drafting the best player available, regardless of position, just isn't always practical when it comes to building a roster. When building their draft board the Seahawks aren't just considering how talented a player is, but where he might fit in when it comes to competing at his position, or what needs might be coming up based on current players heading towards free agency.
As for free agency this year, Schneider noted that things progressed faster this year than they have in the past.
"It was very fast," he said. "The whole three-day window, everything went very fast. Matt Thomas did a great job helping us get ready. In terms of other teams making offers and negotiating with our players, that period went so fast this year, much faster than it has in past. Obviously losing Brandon (Mebane), Bruce (Irvin), Russell (Okung), (J.R.) Sweezy, these are guys who have been core players for us and we obviously did not want to lose them, but you have to prepare for that in the spring."
Schneider added that the addition of defensive end Chris Clemons and the re-signing of linebacker Mike Morgan could help ease the loss of Irvin, and said re-signing players like cornerback Jeremy Lane and receiver Jermaine Kearse "was huge for us."
Asked about Clemons, who turns 35 in October, Schneider said, "As a situational rusher, I think he's got some cool juice left. He had to play more than they wanted him to last year. He had kind of a rough offseason, so going into the season he was a little beat up… He's just a natural, natural edge rusher."
Schneider also gave a health update on tight end Jimmy Graham (knee) and running back Thomas Rawls (ankle), indicating he has hope both can be ready for the start of the season, but adding that getting either back for preseason games is not a priority.
"They're both doing a great job rehabbing," he said, "… Right now their rehab is going well. We're trying to get them ready for the (regular) season, not for Minnesota in the preseason."
Take a look back at the best photos from defensive end Chris Clemons' time with the Seahawks.