They started with 11, of course, but spent four on Tyler Lockett, a two-time Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year who tied the conference record for kick-return average (28.5) while averaging 15.2 yards per punt return and setting 17 school records as a receiver and returner.
“We wanted a returner in this program so badly,” Pete Carroll said. “John just needed to figure out where we were going to get him, and I am thrilled we got him. He is such a special return guy.”
Lockett was the only playmaker the Hawks added — unless you count Jimmy Graham, which they do.
The pick breakdown this year: 3 OL, 2 DE, 2 DB, 1 WR. It isn’t much different than the five-year trend coming in, as OL, DL and DB have been Schneider’s highest-drafted positions. He now has used 12 picks each on OL and DB and 11 on DL.
“John did a great job again,” Carroll said. “The board came off like we were hoping and so many guys fit some issues that we had, some needs that we had. It was an awesome job.”
The Hawks stayed true to archetype with their secondary additions.
Fifth-round cornerback Tye Smith has the length they love (6 feet, 32-inch arms) and plays faster than his 4.5 speed. He also has the aggressive mentality they prefer. Smith will compete for a spot against Tharold Simon, Marcus Burley and Will Blackmon.
Seventh-round safety Ryan Murphy — Marshawn Lynch’s cousin — has near Kam Chancellor size at 6-2 and 210. The Hawks loved his versatility and consistency.
“He’s a grit guy. He’s tough. He’s just what we’re looking for,” Carroll said. “Jeron Johnson leaving gives us a slot. We’d like to get a guy to come in here and compete for that spot and see what he does. We think he’s got a great chance to do that.”
Speaking of Chancellor and safeties, the Hawks also signed his half-brother after the draft. Keenan Lambert of Norfolk State is aggressive, but he seems average in most categories (which explains why he was not drafted).
Another UDFA, LSU safety Ronald Martin, will compete for Johnson’s spot, too. Martin has about the same measureables as Lambert (6 feet, 200) but is known as a good slot cover guy — something the Hawks really need.
The addition of two pass rushers, particularly second-rounder Frank Clark, is more than just a depth move — it’s planning for the likely departure of Bruce Irvin next offseason.
Carroll basically confirmed that the Hawks will not pick up Irvin’s $7.75 million option for 2016. The coach said they met with Irvin the other day “and it went very well. We discussed what our plan is and what we are planning on doing, still knowing that maybe something could happen that could change the decision. It has nothing to do with the statement of how we feel about him in our program. We expect him to be here for a long time and we will work to get that done.”
Of course, Schneider pointed out that the team wanted to keep James Carpenter, too, even after not picking up his option, and he ended up signing with the Jets for more money than the Hawks wanted to pay ($4.75 million per year). The same thing figures to happen with Irvin.
Nate Boyer (the former Green Beret from Texas) is the UDFA who will get the most attention, but one guy to watch is Arizona wide receiver Austin Hill, who had a monster sophomore year with 81 catches and 11 touchdowns and then suffered a torn ACL in 2013. Some think the 6-2 wideout could push for a spot.
You have to wonder whether the Seahawks will try to lure LSU tackle La’el Collins if/when he is cleared in the Baton Rouge murder investigation. A first-round talent, he went undrafted due to uncertainty over his situation, even though police have said he is not a suspect in the death of the woman police think was his ex-girlfriend. His situation could be resolved this week, in which case he will choose a team. Will the Hawks make a big pitch to get him?