The problem with drafting in the bottom 10 picks of the first round is you are basically adding a second-round player for first-round money.
That’s largely why John Schneider has traded his first pick in each of the past five drafts — and is very likely to do it again, if the chance arises.
Twice in the last three years, Schneider has leveraged other teams’ desires for quarterbacks to net Seattle extra picks.
In 2014, with the Hawks picking last on the heels of their Super Bowl win, he let Minnesota come up from No. 40 to draft Teddy Bridgewater. He moved down another five spots in the second round and ended up with Paul Richardson, Cassius Marsh, Kevin Norwood and Kiero Small.
In 2016, Schneider got an even better deal, dangling Paxton Lynch to Denver, which paid a third-round pick to move from 31 to 26. The Seahawks used the 31st pick on Germain Ifedi and the third on Nick Vannett.
It looks like that same strategy could be in play again this year.
“Quarterbacks are going to drive this draft,” an NFL personnel man told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I think there’s going to be some action there at the end of the first round. With these quarterbacks, they need a five-year contract because they’re not ready. I think there will be a lot of movement coming up.”
The targets late in the round figure to be Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer and/or Cal’s Davis Webb (a third-rounder on our composite big board but considered a second-round talent by some). It’s also possible one of Mitch Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson falls.
None of the QBs is worthy of a top-10 pick, which explains why the QB-needy 49ers (2) and Jets (6) reportedly want to trade down.
The Browns and Jets are rumored to be talking trade, with Cleveland moving from 12 to 6 to take Trubisky. But the Browns would need to make that move only if they thought the Jets might take a QB at 6 or the Chargers (7) or Bills (10) might target a QB.
If neither the 49ers nor Jets can get out of the top 10, they might consider taking a QB where they are (a lot of mocks have the Jets drafting one and the 49ers reportedly like Watson). Otherwise, the QB run seems likely to start with the Browns at 12 — with Arizona (13), Washington (17) and Houston (25) possibly considering passers as well.
It seems pretty likely that the top three will go, with Cleveland, Arizona and Houston the favorites to pick them up. But, if one of those passers somehow slipped to 26, that would create a big battle among teams at the top of the second round trying to get back up to get the QB they didn’t take with their first pick. Some teams might even try to get ahead of Houston — that would make Oakland (24) a big dealer.
Even if a top-three QB does not slip to 26, Seattle could be in a key spot for Kizer or Webb, with teams wanting to get ahead of Kansas City (27), which could target an eventual replacement for Alex Smith, and Pittsburgh (30), which will need an heir to Ben Roethlisberger as soon as next year.
Among the teams who could look to make the jump to Seattle’s spot:
San Francisco: If the Niners can’t move down to draft a QB, they might want to hop back up to the bottom of the round. If the divisional rivals were willing to make a deal, Seattle could drop eight picks and maybe add the 49ers’ two fourths — or perhaps a second-rounder in 2018 instead. Seattle then could use whatever they got as ammunition to move up on Day 2.
Jacksonville: The Jags might be looking to replace disappointing QB Blake Bortles. They could give Seattle the 35th overall pick, with the teams swapping third-round picks (Seattle giving up its final third-rounder, No. 106 overall, for the 68th overall pick).
L.A. Chargers: Scuttlebutt says the Chargers might try to find Philip Rivers’ heir in this draft. That could lead to a jump up, with Seattle adding a third-rounder (No. 71). The Chargers have hosted Nathan Peterman, so they might be targeting the position on Day 2 instead.
N.Y. Jets: If the Jets go elsewhere with pick No. 6, they could want back in. Seattle could drop to 39th overall and add one of the Jets’ third-rounders (No. 70).
Pittsburgh: If one of the top three QBs slide, the Steelers might make a rare move up. Seattle could drop to 30 for a third-rounder (94).
Buffalo: If the Bills skip a QB at 10, they could come back for one late in the round. Seattle could drop to 44th overall and add Buffalo’s third (No. 75).
CHEAP TO TRADE UP?
While a trade down is most likely, we recently related the rumor that Schneider has been checking into a possible move up — seemingly for one of the two elite interior pass rushers.
With at least four top-10 teams wanting to move down and few other teams interested in moving up, could Schneider be trying to find a bargain deal to get into the top 10? According to Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole, it could be pretty cheap to move up this year.
Schneider’s club reportedly loves Stanford’s Solomon Thomas, who has been compared to Michael Bennett, and Alabama’s Jonathan Allen. Would Schneider try to make a mini-blockbuster move up from 26?
Thomas is widely considered the No. 2 prospect, so he’s probably out of range. The 49ers probably wouldn’t cut their division rival much of a deal, even if they wanted Richard Sherman.
A more plausible trade would be a move up to No. 5 for Allen, if he is still there. The Titans are among the teams that reportedly want to move out of the top 10 (they also have the 18th pick). They need a corner, so would they go for Sherman and the 26th pick? Or could Schneider even get them to go for Sherman and a second?
Per the draft trade chart, the fifth pick is worth 1,700 points. If Sherman, a three-time No. 1 All-Pro, is valued as the 10th overall pick in this draft, that would be 1,300 points. Seattle’s second pick is worth 320. The Hawks also could give Sherman and their first for No. 5 and one of the Titans’ third-round picks.
A big move up like that typically would go against Schneider’s philosophy. But Sherman makes it a possibility worth considering this year.
The Seahawks reportedly are interested in East Carolina Zay Jones in the second round. Said draft insider Tony Pauline: “In our most recent mock draft, I have the Seattle Seahawks selecting receiver Taywan Taylor in the third round. I’m told that if Zay Jones happens to fall into their laps a round earlier in the second, they would quickly scoop him up, omitting the need for Taylor in the third.”
Any deals for Marshawn Lynch and/or Sherman will come down to the wire, if they happen. Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie said he wants a deal done with Lynch (and then the Seahawks) “prior to the draft.” The Hawks aren’t expected to get more than a seventh-rounder from Oakland, if Lynch and the Raiders agree to terms.
In news of former Seattle draft picks, Zac Brooks (seventh-rounder in 2016) and Ryan Seymour (seventh-rounder in 2013) apparently have retired. Alvin Bailey, a UDFA in 2013 who played in 43 games (starting eight) for Seattle, was cut by Cleveland.
The Seahawks re-signed exclusive-rights RBs Troymaine Pope and Terrence Magee, meaning the Hawks have a pretty full stable of backs now and seem pretty unlikely to draft one.
Jaye Howard, a fourth-rounder in Seattle’s excellent 2012 draft, was released by Kansas City. A possible reunion?