Grading Schneider’s draft picks

NFL draftDRAFT COUNTDOWN: Five weeks.
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involving the Seahawks.

John Schneider loves draft picks, and he clearly was looking forward to getting four more last week in the compensatory awards.

It was the first time the Seahawks have ever received four comps, and it means the Hawks will enter the draft with more picks (11) than any NFL team. No big surprise there: The Hawks have drafted a league-high 48 players since Schneider arrived in 2010 — never leaving the selection meeting with fewer than nine.

This year, the Hawks are in the perfect draft position for Schneider: No first-round pick and five in the fourth and fifth stanzas, plus three in the sixth.

Everyone knows Schneider has been average in the first round, while earning a great reputation in the middle rounds. So, thanks to the Jimmy Graham-Max Unger deal and losing a few free agents in 2014, this draft is in his wheelhouse.

His reputation as a mid-round star is only half legit, though. While he has found two superstars in the fifth round, the fourth round actually has been his worst — with misses on four of seven players and only one starter (K.J. Wright) discovered.

He can reverse that trend this year though, if receiver Kevin Norwood, linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis and defensive lineman Cassius Marsh take big steps and Schneider makes some good picks with his three fourths on May 2.

Here’s a look at how Schneider has done through his first five years:

BY ROUND

First round (C+)
Picks: LT Russell Okung, FS Earl Thomas, OT James Carpenter, LB Bruce Irvin.
Thomas has carried this group, becoming one of the league’s elite defenders. Okung has had one good year and three injured ones, and Carpenter (injuries) and Irvin (suspension) both have been unavailable at times while also changing positions from the ones they were drafted to play.

Second (B+)
Picks: WR Golden Tate, LB Bobby Wagner, RB Christine Michael, WR Paul Richardson, OT Justin Britt.
Tate took two years to get going and then gave the Hawks two solid seasons of contributions. Wagner has developed into a top-flight middle ‘backer in two years. Michael carries an incomplete grade after two seasons and is looking more and more like the wasted pick we thought he was. Richardson showed great promise late in his rookie season before getting hurt in the playoffs. Britt started every game as a rookie and struggled mightily at times, but the coaches are confident he will improve.

Third (B+)
Picks: OG John Moffitt, QB Russell Wilson, DT Jordan Hill.
Moffitt, one of the most bizarre characters to wear Seahawks blue, drags this grade down, but Wilson’s performance carries this round. Hill had finally emerged late last season, with 5.5 sacks, before getting hurt.

Fourth (C-)
Picks: CB Walter Thurmond, DE E.J. Wilson, LB K.J. Wright, WR Kris Durham, RB Robert Turbin, DT Jaye Howard, WR Chris Harper, DL Cassius Marsh, WR Kevin Norwood, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis.
This round has easily been Schneider’s worst, with four strikeouts and only one starter — although the 2014 trio could change that. Wright is a good role player and received a contract extension late in the 2014 season. Thurmond was oft-injured and also was suspended for four games in 2013, and he never really lived up to his billing as a mid-round gem with a second-round value. Turbin is a solid backup. Marsh, Norwood and KPL didn’t accomplish much as rookies, but they seem to have bright futures and roles.

Fifth (B+)
Picks: SS Kam Chancellor, CB Richard Sherman, S Mark LeGree, LB Korey Toomer, DT Jesse Williams, CB Tharold Simon, TE Luke Willson, DT Jimmy Staten.
The fifth round is never a sure thing, but the Pro Bowl play of Chancellor and Sherman more than offsets the misses. LeGree and Toomer did not pan out, and Williams — a smart injury gamble — might never be healthy. Simon had a horrid playoffs/Super Bowl and needs to prove he can stay healthy and play better. Willson had his moments in 2014 but is still not very consistent. Staten couldn’t crack the roster as a rookie, but he still has a shot.

Sixth (C-)
Picks: TE Anthony McCoy, CB Byron Maxwell, CB Jeremy Lane, S Winston Guy, RB Spencer Ware, OT Garrett Scott, DB Eric Pinkins.
Injuries have been a major problem with Schneider’s sixth-round picks. Maxwell took almost three years to turn into something and then earned a big contract after starting 17 games and the playoffs in 2013 and 2014. McCoy has missed the past two seasons, but he showed some promise as a rookie and still could factor in again. Lane has been a special-teams dynamo and solid nickel back when healthy. Guy flamed out fast, aided by a suspension in his rookie year. Ware was just a punk from LSU who couldn’t stay healthy anyway. Scott and Pinkins didn’t make it in 2014 due to health issues; Scott (heart) might never play again and was released, but Pinkins will get a chance to become a contributor in 2015.

Seventh (C)
Picks: DE Dexter Davis, TE Jameson Konz, DE Pep Levingston, LB Malcolm Smith, OG J.R. Sweezy, DE Greg Scruggs, OG Ryan Seymour, LB Ty Powell, OL Jared Smith, OL Michael Bowie, FB Kiero Small.
The seventh round is such a crap shoot, but Schneider has about a 25 percent success rate — with Smith, Sweezy, Scruggs and Bowie contributing to varying degrees.

GRADES BY POSITION

QB (Picks: 1. Grade: A): The Hawks traded picks to get Charlie Whitehurst, but Wilson is the only pure draft pick at the position, and everyone knows how that has gone so far.

RB (Picks: 4. Grade: C): Turbin has been fine as a backup, but Ware and Small didn’t make it and Michael has always looked like a waste of a second-round pick.

WR (Picks: 5. Grade: C): Tate didn’t develop until his third season, and the Hawks missed on fourth-rounders Durham and Harper, but Richardson and Norwood showed promise as rookies. Their top contributors the last two years have been undrafted receivers Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse.

TE (Picks: 3. Grade: C): McCoy was inconsistent before missing the past two seasons, and Willson has been hit and miss himself, with a few nice plays and a few terrible plays in his first two years. But not bad for the fifth and sixth rounds.

OL (Picks: 9. Grade: C-): The failures of Carpenter and Moffitt drag this grade down, but the promise of Sweezy and Britt keeps it from dropping even lower.

DL (Picks: 9. Grade: D): The Seahawks have been horrible at drafting defensive linemen. Granted, the only one they have picked above the fourth round has been Hill, who played very well late last season before getting hurt again.

LB (Picks: 7. Grade: B+): Wagner has emerged as a Pro Bowl talent, and Wright earned a new contract due to his versatility. Irvin is still learning the position and might be replaced by Pierre-Louis after next season.

DB (Picks: 10. Grade: A): It’s no surprise that Carroll’s favorite position is the Seahawks’ strength. They have built their defense from the back up, and they have missed on just two defensive backs while turning out three Pro Bowl players.

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