With the 2020 NFL Draft now in the rearview mirror and the Seahawks adding eight new players, general manager John Schneider went on both of Seattle's sports radio stations Thursday to talk about the draft and some other offseason happenings.
1. The Seahawks were thrilled to get both Jordyn Brooks and Darrell Taylor and not just one or the other.
When the Seahawks had to make a decision late in the first round, they considered a number of options, including the move they made—selecting Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks—trading back to later in the first round or out of it entirely, or using the pick on Tennessee defensive end Darrell Taylor. The Seahawks went with Brooks, then spent their Friday trying to trade up to take Taylor in the second round, and were eventually able to get both players when they came out of Thursday night fearing they would only get one.
"We had brought Darrell in and were able to spend extra time with him, but it was a decision of, hey, if one of those linebackers was still there, we're not going to back out," Schneider said on 710 ESPN Seattle, referencing three linebackers, presumably Oklahoma's Kenneth Murray, who went 23nd overall to the Chargers, Brooks and LSU's Patrick Queen, who went to Baltimore one pick after Brooks. "And with Jordyn, everybody had so much conviction. It's not just one person, it's not like I'm just sitting there saying, we're going to pick this player, it's a culmination of months and months of work… Jordyn was the guy that fit us the best, and we had the most buy-in for everybody, so we were extremely excited to get him."
After landing Brooks, the Seahawks' focus shifted to Taylor, who they were able to get by moving up 11 spots in the second round in a trade that sent a third-round pick to the Jets.
"We knew that if we drafted one of the linebackers, we were going to have to work our tails off to try and get back up in the second," Schneider said. "And I've got to be honest with you, I didn't feel very good about being able to get back up to acquire Darrell, but I think because of him having surgery after the season, not being able to playing the all-star games and participate in the combine, I think we were really blessed in that regard. He might not like hearing that."
When discussing the pass rush later in the interview, Schneider reiterated that "quite honestly we would have considered Darrell with our first pick."
2. K.J. Wright's offseason surgery & other injury updates.
On Sports Radio 950 KJR, Schneider gave a few injury updates, including news that linebacker K.J. Wright is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.
"K.J. just had surgery, he's rehabbing from his surgery, I'm not sure the timeline of when he's going to be back," Schneider said. "Hopefully he makes it back on time, we'll see how it goes. This is just a weird offseason for everybody, but especially for guys who had offseason surgery."
Another player rehabbing from surgery is running back Rashaad Penny, who tore his ACL late last season. Penny is "doing great" in his rehab, Schneider said, but because the injury happened late in the season, he could end up starting the 2020 season on the physically unable to perform list.
"He's doing great, but it was a late-season injury, so it's going to be really hard for him to make it (when the 55-man roster is set), so he may be a guy who goes into the (PUP) window," Schneider said.
Schneider did say that running back Chris Carson, whose season was cut short by a hip injury, should be ready for the start of the season.
And while Penny's injury might keep him from being ready Week 1, Schneider said that wasn't a big factor in the decision to draft Miami running back DeeJay Dallas in the fourth round.
"He was a player we just didn't want to pass up," Schneider said. "It really didn't have anything to do with Penny."
Schneider noted that Dallas might have been the best pass-protecting running back in the draft, and noted his play on special teams, including as a punt returner, as another strength.
"You could argue that he's the best pass-protector of the whole group, and from a special teams standpoint, he's amazing," Schneider said.
3. Where does Jordyn Brooks fit?
The Seahawks obviously really like Brooks, hence taking him in the first round, but now the question becomes, where does he play? Brooks finished his career as a middle linebacker who earned some comparisons to Bobby Wagner, but the Seahawks already have, well, Bobby Wagner, so Brooks probably won't be playing that spot anytime soon. Brooks did play multiple linebacker spots is his career at Texas Tech, and Schneider is confident that Seahawks coaches will find a way to utilize him one way or another.
"That may be his best fit, playing inside, maybe (weakside) linebacker, but in '18 he played outside, really did a nice job out here, playing in space and coming downhill and rushing the passer, and just showing off his speed," Schneider said on Sports Radio 950 KJR. "The guy's been very, very productive and really intense, he embodies what our organization is all about with a chip on his shoulder and just being a guy who really wants to be the best at his craft. He's a guy who, once he's here, will really remind you of Bobby and K.J…. We'll figure it out, if K.J. plays weakside or strongside, however (coaches) want to do it, they'll figure it out, but everybody was really, really excited to be able to put this guy on our football team."
4. Where things stand with the pass rush.
The Seahawks still don't know if they'll get free agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney back, but while the door is still open for him to return, the Seahawks have had to continue conducting business when it comes to trying to improve their pass rush. And whether or not they're able to re-sign Clowney or another pass rusher, the Seahawks are excited about what they have been able to add in free agency and the draft.
"We gave that a go several times, and (Clowney) is just in a position where he wasn't ready to make a decision, and that's fine," Schneider said on 710 ESPN Seattle. "But we have to keep going and conducting business, and being able to get Bruce (Irvin) back and Benson (Mayowa) back, those guys had (15.5) sacks combined. Then going into he draft and being able to acquire Alton (Robinson) and Darrell was huge for us. We're really excited. Those guys were players we had identified that we really wanted at a specific spot, we really wanted to acquire them, and quite honestly we would have considered Darrell with our first pick."
5. Schneider is never comfortable with the roster.
While the Seahawks like what they've added so far this offseason, they won't relax now assuming the roster is as good as it can be. Schneider said as much when asked about the pass rush, but that thought applies to just about every spot on the roster.
"I'm never comfortable," he said on Sports Radio 950 KJR. "I'm never comfortable with anything we have going on. That's my job. We never think we have it licked, we never think we have all the answers. We owe it to all the veterans on this team, the Russell Wilsons, the Bobby Wagners, the K.J. Wrights, the Greg Olsens, to do whatever we can to help our team every day to improve. So I'm never comfortable with any positions, whether it's receiver, left tackle, left guard, center, right guard, I can go through it all for you."
OK, but their might be one exception. Schneider was asked if he's comfortable with his starting quarterback spot, and acknowledged, "Comfortable there, absolutely, he's a good player… We do have to address the backup quarterback situation. We were able to sign (Anthony) Gordon from Washington State (as an undrafted free agent), who we were really excited about. But no, we don't stop at every position."
6. Calling a player to tell him he's about to be drafted is "a huge blessing."
While managing an NFL roster can come with some tough decisions, such as Monday's move to release veteran offensive linemen Justin Britt and D.J. Fluker, there are also moments of pure joy, such as when Schneider and Pete Carroll get to call a player and make his NFL dreams come true.
"It's amazing," Schneider said on 710 ESPN Seattle. "It's a huge blessing. For as many of the tough decisions that we have to make, like with Justin and Fluke, the calls are the highs. When the players are acquired, it's a blast."
7. Schneider's thoughts on those tough decisions and the rest of the offensive line.
While letting Fluker and Britt go wasn't an easy decision, by any means, the Seahawks do like what they've been able to do with their line this season in free agency and by drafting LSU guard Damien Lewis in the third round.
"You hear us talk every year, you're going to have tough cap-casualty decisions to make," Schneider said on Sports Radio 950 KJR. "As exciting as it is to call these young men and offer them an opportunity, it's really hard to call people and let them go, especially guys who have given as much to the organization as those two individuals have. We drafted Britt and he has done a great job, and he's well-established in the community, and Fluke has done a great job since he's been here. These are things we work through, we plan on, then once the draft goes a certain way—because you don't know exactly how the draft is going to move. We had to cover ourselves in free agency early on in case the draft didn't go the way we anticipated, and it did, so we had to make those moves. That's why you saw us early on with guys like B.J. Finney and Brandon Shell and Cedric Ogbuehi, those were guys we wanted to add, then bringing Mike Iupati back for some stability on the left side to compete with Phil Haynes, it was a big deal for us. But once we drafted Damien, everybody felt like we were drafting a starting right guard in the National Football League, because he's just a man."