With the NFL Draft kicking off Thursday, Seahawks general manager John Schneider held a press conference Monday in which he told reporters exactly what the Seahawks will do with all seven of their draft picks. OK, so that didn't really happen, but while Schneider didn't give much away about what is coming up this weekend, but he did provide some insight into the draft evaluation process and where things stand with some players already on the roster.
1. The relationship between scouts and coaches is crucial this time of year.
While evaluating college talent is a year-round job for scouts, coaches have to play catch-up once the season comes to an end. Schneider noted that scouts and coaches just finished up some of their meetings to make sure everyone is on the same page, which is an important part of the draft process for the Seahawks.
"It's essential because you don't want to take somebody that the coaches aren't comfortable with," Schneider said. "But it's a process too. There's a lot of give and take there. It's been a much longer process for us, so when the coaches come in, there's a lot of, 'Check this game out, check that game out.' They did a good job because they busted their tail in a pretty short period of time to get caught up."
2. Schneider wouldn't mind having more picks.
The Seahawks head into the 2017 draft with seven picks, which if nothing changes over the weekend would mean the fewest picks Schneider and Pete Carroll have made in a draft since taking over in 2010. The Seahawks picked eight times in the 2015 draft, and have made nine or more selections in every other draft under Carroll and Schneider.
As a general manager who has made no secret of the fact that he likes to trade back to acquire more picks, that relatively low number is something on Schneider's mind this week.
"We'd like to have more," Schneider said. "More is better depending on the draft. It changes the way we try to strategize because you're not picking all the way through the draft. So you're basically… Having the three threes, the five picks in the three rounds is outstanding, don't get me wrong, but you always feel a certain level of anxiety about what's going to happen."
As Schneider notes, the Seahawks do have five picks in the first three rounds, but as of now, they don't have a pick in the fourth or fifth round, and as Schneider put it, "You want to have picks all the way through.
"We don't have a fourth-round pick or fifth-round pick, so how you compensate for that? That's the part you… Somebody asked me what this week is like, that's part of it too—how we move around. You can strategize on it all day long, but it's still not as easy to move around as people would anticipate. It's not like—what's that movie? "Draft Day"—where they're just moving all around."
3. Dion Jordan could play multiple DL spots.
The Seahawks signed defensive end Dion Jordan in free agency hoping the former No. 3 overall pick can revive his career after missing the past two seasons due to suspension and injury. Jordan has been an edge rusher so far in his college and professional careers, but he is a bit bigger now than he was in Miami, Schneider said, which could give him the flexibility to play all over the defensive line.
"He's a little heavier now, so we're planning on playing him along the defensive line," Schneider said. "We've always thought he was a heck of an inside rusher, too, he's always had the speed off the edge, he's got the length, he has a natural feel for working guys edges and stuff. Defensive line. Whether it's end or 5-(technique) or 3-(technique), maybe some Leo as well, I'm not quite sure. But at this point it looks like defensive line."
4. One-year deals were popular around the NFL this year.
Jordan is just one example of a player the Seahawks signed to a one-year deal this offseason, something that seemed to be a trend around the league. The Seahawks mostly stayed out of bidding wars early in free agency, as has usually been the case under Schneider and Carroll, then tried to use some of their non-monetary advantages to sign free agents like Joeckel, Jordan and Bradley McDougald.
"It seems like a lot of teams that had a ton of cap room weren't necessarily being quite as aggressive as they have in the past," Schneider said. "I'm talking about the totality of it. I think there were a number of guys who were just looking for good situations. What you're doing is where we are from a cap standpoint, we're trying to sell them on the city, the fans, how the great the stadium is, how wonderful the local media is to work with. Just basically trying to recruit the guys, on a bridge deal or a prove-it deal. We've had experience in the past where it's worked out, so we thought that was the best shot for us to be able to compete when we had less cap room, to be able to compete with the teams that quite frankly had a lot more cap room than we did."
Seattle's past of rewarding players like Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Ahtyba Rubin and Mike Williams who thrived under those "prove-it deals" helps recruit free agents, as does Carroll's "Always Compete" philosophy.
"Absolutely, especially with Pete's central theme of the whole program, the whole organization being competing," Schneider said. "The guys know if they come here and are a pro and play hard and be smart and tough and reliable that they're going to be on the field."
5. This could perhaps be the year the Seahawks draft their second quarterback under Carroll and Schneider.
When Schneider worked in Green Bay's front office, he saw the Packers draft numerous quarterbacks despite having Brett Favre, an eventual Hall of Famer, on their roster. During Favre's career, the Packers drafted Mark Brunell, Matt Hasselbeck and Aaron Brooks, three eventual starters for other teams, earning quite a bit in draft compensation for those players. But while Schneider has said on multiple occasions that he likes that strategy of drafting a quarterback nearly every year, the way things have fallen for the Seahawks each draft, they have only taken one quarterback in seven drafts under Carroll and Schneider. Granted, that one pick, Russell Wilson in the third round of the 2012 draft, worked out pretty darn well, but Schneider still would like to see his team add to that position group, perhaps in this week's draft.
"It has just happened that way," Schneider said of only taking one quarterback in seven drafts. "It really has. I've always thought you have to have one in the chamber, and have a guy who is getting ready, and it just hasn't gone that way for us, you know? I don't know how to explain it. It's just the way it's stacked out for us. We know the quarterbacks and the level of play and the upside we've seen and how they are going to fit with us, and it just hasn't matched up, from a round standpoint. That doesn't mean that it wouldn't happen. That's a great question, because you are kind of like, 'Yeah, you are right. We haven't, right?' We haven't done that philosophically. That's something that you want to try to do. The most important position on the field."
Whether it's in the draft or free agency, Schneider said, "I would think we'd bring in some competition" at quarterback, where the Seahawks currently only have two players on the roster, Wilson and Trevone Boykin.
6. The Seahawks have "some interesting options" on their offensive line.
A common discussion this time of year when it comes to offensive line draft prospects is the way the proliferation of spread offenses at the college and high school levels has made it harder to find NFL-ready talent in the draft. And while Schneider acknowledged that is a factor for the Seahawks and other teams, saying college football sometimes looks like "basketball on grass" these days, he is excited about the potential of the group already on Seattle's roster. The Seahawks drafted three linemen last year—Germain Ifedi, Rees Odhiambo and Joey Hunt—and signed George Fant, an eventual starter, as an undrafted free agent, so that's four players who are expected to take a big step forward as second-year players. The Seahawks also added two free agents who will compete for starting jobs, Luke Joeckel and Oday Aboushi.
"I think when you look at the group now with Rees and Germain and George and even Joey, the experience they had last year will definitely help them out next year," Schneider said. "We've talked about us going a little bit too young (last year) probably. That's something with our self-scouting we've addressed internally… We're looking forward to Luke coming in—Luke can play left tackle or left guard—and we signed Aboushi and he can play right guard or right tackle, so I think we have some interesting options in there."
The Seahawks continued their voluntary offseason workout program on Friday, April 21 and Monday, April 24 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.