Hawks’ drafts went from historic to subpar

NFL draftJohn Schneider set such a high standard in his first three drafts, it would be nearly impossible to match. So it’s no surprise that he hasn’t.

According to an excellent study put together by The Washington Post using Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value (AV) rating, Schneider’s 2012 draft was the best in 20 years — as measured against expected value (EV). And his 2011 draft was fourth on that list.

That clearly was an impossible level to sustain.

As Schneider joked Monday: “How come that doesn’t happen anymore? What’s your problem, dude?”

The problem was how far the Seahawks dipped for a couple of years. And the hope is the 2016 and 2017 draft classes will bring them out of the slump.

Schneider set the standard with his first draft. That class was led by Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Golden Tate and Kam Chancellor — ranking sixth in the NFL that year (via WaPo’s EV metric).

Then Schneider gave Pete Carroll all the right guys in the historic next two drafts. Schneider’s 2011 selections included Day 3 standouts K.J. Wright, Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell and Malcolm Smith. In 2012, he drafted Bruce Irvin, Bobby Wagner, Wilson and then found a couple more Day 3 hits with Jeremy Lane and J.R. Sweezy.

During that three-year stretch, Schneider forged a reputation as one of the NFL’s preeminent Day 3 drafters.

But Seattle has turned into one of the league’s worst Day 3 pickers over the last four drafts, ranking third-worst along with the Philadelphia Eagles (based on Pro Football Ref’s AV ratings).

Seattle has found just three key players (Luke Willson, Mark Glowinski, Cassius Marsh) in the fourth round or later since 2013 — despite having 27 picks, the second most in the league in that span.

Overall, Seattle’s 2013 and 2014 drafts each ranked eighth-worst in the league by WaPo’s EV metric, with Willson (2013 fifth-rounder) and Justin Britt (2014 second) the only consistent contributors.

The poor 2013 draft (which was pretty bad for the entire NFL) was offset by Schneider’s excellent signings of Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. That team is still considered the deepest roster Schneider has assembled — no coincidence that crew won the Super Bowl.

Veteran additions are part of the reason the 2013 and 2014 drafts were such duds. Schneider said Dan Morgan and the pro personnel staff have brought in a lot of young vets. One year, Seattle had 21 guys in camp from other teams, Schneider recounted.

“I think our level of competition has been raised,” the GM said. “It’s been hard for guys to make this team.”

But, he also admitted the team has made mistakes. He said they have self-scouted their errors, asking themselves: “What was it at this player’s core that we weren’t real correct on?”

Among the obvious misses were their top two picks in 2013: Percy Harvin (acquired via trade) and Christine Michael. Both guys had horrible “football character” that resulted in them eventually being traded away. The Seahawks, whose top need in 2013 was defensive tackle, could have had Kawann Short if they had kept their first-rounder. And they had several options better than Michael at the bottom of Round 2.

The Harvin deal also burned Seattle’s 2014 third-rounder, so the Hawks were at a disadvantage heading into that one. While most of their seven Day 3 picks in 2014 are gone, their top three picks — Paul Richardson, Britt, Marsh — finally have started to contribute. So there is hope that draft won’t end up being a total dud.

Meanwhile, Schneider seems to have recovered from those poor 2013-14 drafts. The last two meetings have produced some players who should become part of the foundation for the next few years: Frank Clark, Tyler Lockett, Glowinski, Germain Ifedi, Jarran Reed, C.J. Prosise, Nick Vannett, Rees Odhiambo.

This draft offers another chance to add five quality players in the first two days — guys who are needed to establish the core for 2019 and beyond.

Schneider needs to hit those picks, because this is his most important draft since that historic 2012 class.

Check out draft grades for Schneider, by round and position.


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