It’s no secret that John Schneider’s Seahawks have been in a draft dry spell — and are still trying to choreograph the right rain dance. To that end, the Hawks apparently have changed the way they are preparing for the draft.
Since putting together their Super Bowl core in 2010-12, Schneider and company have added very few contributors. One study places the Seahawks in the bottom three in the NFL since 2013. Just three of 28 picks from the 2013-15 drafts remain, and only a handful of selections from the past two years have shown any promise — with last year’s Malik McDowell mistake hanging heavy around Schneider’s neck as the Hawks prepare for this week’s draft.
Schneider has blamed the run of ineffective drafts on three things: (1) A strong roster that made it tough to make the team, (2) ignoring red flags and making too many “excuses” for keeping risky players on their draft list and (3) not adding enough guys who were willing to compete with the Super Bowl vets.
Well, 2013-14 is long gone and so are most of the players from those Super Bowl clubs. In fact, Pete Carroll said Michael Bennett and Richard Sherman were dumped because “sometimes, guys can’t hang with what’s expected … and the best thing I can tell you is that they’re not here.”
That should make it easier for young players to compete for jobs.
“We’ve got to get back to bringing guys into this building that are ready to compete … and not just be happy to take a second seat or a backup chair,” Schneider said, basically admitting he has failed at that the past few years.
Carroll added: “This time of year we’re always going back to basics and looking at the fundamental aspects of the makeup of the players. We have been strong on the thought of getting the smart, tough, reliable guys that we’ve always loved and we want to make sure that we’re doing that. … We certainly want to emphasize the real competitive-natured kids that really are going to come in and fight and claw and scratch just like the guys that have made this program.”
To that end, the Seahawks have shrunk their draft board (probably from 150 to 100) — something they should have done when they had a strong team — and apparently are not going on a limb for boom-or-bust dudes like McDowell anymore.
“I think one of the things we’ve done is really cleaned up,” Schneider said. “There aren’t as many names on our board. You have to have certain criteria to be on our board, and we’re making less excuses for players.
“What happens is you end up kind of ignoring some of those red flags if you feel like you have a specific need or fit for a player,” he said, McDowell being an obvious example. “I think it’s happened in the past (yeah, last year). It’ll probably happen in the future. But we just want to limit those.
“You never truly know the whole package, right? You never truly know what’s in a man’s heart. So we just work our tails off to try to find it out. We’re still doing it. We’re not going to be done until like Wednesday night or whatever.”
It’s ridiculous to think the Hawks are still figuring out how to draft, eight years into it. But they obviously are. And they had better figure out how to get it right if they are going to re-emerge as a contender by next year.
“I think this year we’ve taken another step in refining the process,” Carroll said. “I think we’re more precise about some things and information that we’re gathering and I think it’s allowed John to clean the board up more clearly than ever. … So we might not have as many numbers on the board because we’re more tuned in specifically to guys that really fit.”
So which guys fit in the first two days of this draft? The list of visits/workouts should give us a solid hint, with Michigan DT Maurice Hurst, Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch, Nevada OL Austin Corbett, Colorado CB Isaiah Oliver, Stanford S Justin Reid and Texas A&M WR Christian Kirk among the top options.
Schneider seems confident he will be able to move down in the draft to secure at least one more pick in the first two days.
“We take a lot of pride in our relationships with other clubs where we can just call somebody up real quick and make a deal to move around,” he said, “so that maybe we’re moving up to get somebody or maybe moving back to acquire two guys, possibly three. … I wish we had a second-rounder and a third-rounder, but we went for it (in 2017) so here we are and now we’ve got to figure it out. It’s a challenge, but it’s a fun challenge.”
As for the Earl Thomas saga, one report indicates Dallas will not make a deal, instead waiting for 2019 free agency. But there are still plenty of signs that a trade could be made by Thursday, if the Seahawks are willing to drop the asking price to something like a second-rounder and change.