The Seahawks haven't had a top 10 pick in more than a decade, the result of being one of the NFL's best teams over the course of Pete Carroll and John Schneider's tenure in Seattle.
Seattle last picked in the Top 10 in 2010 when in Schneider and Carroll's first draft they selected Russell Okung with the No. 6 overall pick, and they haven't held a pick inside the top half of the first round since 2012 when they selected Bruce Irvin with the 15th overall pick.
And while consistently being near the back end of the draft order is a good thing because it means the team is winning and going to the playoffs, the fact that the Seahawks hold the No. 9 pick in next week's draft—the result of last month's trade that sent Russell Wilson to Denver—does add some extra excitement to the upcoming draft. Having a pick high in the first round, as well as two early in the second round (40 and 41 overall) and a pick in the upper half of the third round (72), doesn't just give the Seahawks the most draft capital they've held since the 2010 draft, it also reminds Carroll and Schneider of those early drafts when they were able to build the nucleus of a championship team.
"It's exciting times," Schneider said. "We currently have eight picks, we have four in the top 72. So there's a real excitement about that and an enthusiasm. I was getting a workout in yesterday morning watching TV, they were talking about the NFC West and all the problems that everybody has and everything and, I don't know, it just brought me back to this energy of like the 2012 draft when we over-drafted a pass rusher (Irvin), and we drafted a linebacker that didn't have any instincts (Bobby Wagner), and we drafted a quarterback that didn't fit the height mold (Russell Wilson) and we over-drafted a nickelback (Jeremy Lane) and we over-drafted a third-down back (Robert Turbin) and we converted a defensive lineman to an offensive lineman (J.R. Sweezy), who is still playing for those who are keeping track, or he was last year. And then afterwards everybody giving us Fs. But the message is that in this building, we were super excited. We knew where we were headed. Pete and his staff had a great plan. It was loaded with competition, and we're excited to see that competition.
"It's going to be different. We haven't experienced it since the first year we were here when we had the two first-round draft picks. So there's a lot of planning, a lot of thoughts that go through your head, a lot of different scenarios. We may pick it nine, we may not. We don't know yet. We're going to do whatever we can to help this football team as much as we possibly can. It's obviously exciting, but it's not necessarily a place that you want to be drafting."
Schneider was later asked about referencing the 2012 draft class and added, "I'm talking about the energy and the way we feel in this building. Where we are, in our bubble, we feel awesome about it. We have an excitement about it. There's a little bit of underdog feeling. It's refreshing and it feels fun. It feels competitive as crud."
Picking ninth creates a lot of possibilities for the Seahawks, the simplest of which is taking what should be a very good player when their pick comes up. That pick also, however, gives the Seahawks the buying power to package it with later picks and move up should they so desire, or it's a valuable trade chip they could use to move back a few picks, still get a good player, and add picks later in the draft. And it's also considerably easier for Schneider and his scouting department to figure out the possible scenarios that could play prior to their pick, unlike previous years when so many unpredictable things have occurred by late in the round.
"There is definitely an excitement about this, because there's only so many things that can happen," Carroll said. "When you're picking 25th, 28th, there's a million different scenarios. This is not like that, it's a little different, so there's a different level of excitement about the opportunity. Then we'll be interested to see how other people see it, are they willing to come chasing that spot too. Everything about it is more challenging, more exciting, and we're looking forward to it.
"It's great that we haven't had the opportunity to draft real high, it's a good thing. When you get that opportunity, it's a new deal, so it does take us back (to 2012) in that regard."
And while a lot of the focus will be on the ninth pick leading up to the draft, it's also a big deal to the Seahawks that they hold those two second-round picks, one of which was acquired in the Wilson trade, especially in what is considered to be a very deep if not overly top-heavy draft. With two second-round picks, the Seahawks have the ability to take two really good players, or to package one of them and another pick to move up a bit or to trade one back and add more picks later in the draft.
"That was a big part of the trade, being able to have that flexibility with the second (second-round) draft pick, especially in this year's draft with the way things look to us," Schneider said. "It does give you flexibility picking back-to-back or being able to move around if we deem necessary."
And it's not just the extra draft capital that has people buzzing at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. The simple fact that, for the first time in two years, the building has been full of everyone from players to coaches and athletic trainers to business operations on the third floor of the building adds a different energy level for everyone involved. Add to that a significant overhaul of the defensive coaching staff, and things just feel different to Schneider.
"The collaboration has been awesome," Schneider said. "We talk about competition, collaboration and culture all the time. I can't put my finger on it, but there's a certain energy in this building right now. There's a certain freshness and juice."
"The juice and the energy of the coaching staff, it's very hard to describe… There's just a real cool juice going on."
Of course, juice and freshness in April won't mean a lot if the team is successful come fall, and fresh off their first losing season in more than a decade, the Seahawks have every intention of bouncing back.
"We've got to win," Carroll said. "… Everybody wants to come back and do something good here. I want to make that (2021 season) a blip on the screen."
For Schneider the challenge of this offseason brought him back to his first in Seattle when, when being introduced as the team's new GM, he talked about his childhood growing up in the Green Bay area living and dying with the success of the Packers.
"Growing up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, all I cared about was, what were the Packers doing every single day to get better?" he said. "That's the message—I haven't said that in years—but the fans need to know that. Whether it's the coaches or the guys in sports science, our trainers taking care of people, the strength conditioning guys, our equipment, everybody, we're doing whatever we can every single day to have a consistent championship-caliber football team. And fans need—there has to be a reassurance of that. And what we can say is that it really doesn't stop. It's a 24/7 process."
Said Carroll, "We're excited to show you again that, I'm going to prove to you that we were ready again, and we're going to go for it and there's nothing that's going to keep us from battling every step of the way to get as good as we can. That has not changed, but we do all have to reemphasize the stuff that's important to us and so that we can really do it well."
Seattle Seahawks players and staff gather for the first team meeting during phase one of offseason workouts at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center on April 19, 2022.