As the Seahawks undergo the biggest roster reshuffle since Pete Carroll and John Schneider arrived in 2010, some are making the mistake of calling this the most important draft in the Schneider/Carroll era.
The simple fact is the last two drafts were more significant.
Every draft is important, but the Seahawks (with no picks on Day 2) are not set up for success in this one like they were in 2016 and 2017, when they had 11 picks in the first two days. Those players should be a big part of the team’s core in 2018-19. They need to come through this year — something Schneider has said more than once.
Among those 11 picks in the money rounds of 2016-17, the Hawks added three offensive linemen, three defensive tackles, a running back, a tight end, a cornerback, a safety and a receiver.
We already know that one of the defensive tackles — 2017 second-rounder Malik McDowell — probably will never help the Seahawks. But the rest of those players, plus perhaps two or three others from those drafts, still have a shot at becoming core players for Seattle.
Jarran Reed (2016 second-round DT) and Shaquill Griffin (2017 third-round CB) are already key starters on defense. Nazair Jones (2017 third-round DT) also showed great promise before getting hurt last season. Those three figure to be among the cornerstones of Carroll’s Second Edition.
The seven others are all question marks at this point, but a bunch of them absolutely must come through if Seattle is going to return to contender status by next year.
Delano Hill (2017 third-round SS) should get a shot at starting this year, especially if Earl Thomas ends up getting traded. If Thomas plays out his contract, Hill would likely back up Bradley McDougald in 2018 and step up in 2019. Tedric Thompson (2017 fourth-round FS) also is expected to push for more playing time.
Offensive linemen Germain Ifedi (2016 first-round OT) and Ethan Pocic (2017 second-round OL) are expected to take big steps under new coach Mike Solari, as the Seahawks return four starters on their offensive line for the first time since 2014. Rees Odhiambo, a big reach in the 2016 third round, did not show he was capable of helping last season; he’ll get one more shot to stick as a backup this summer.
Ifedi was largely terrible under Tom Cable’s direction, but he has the skills to be a solid player and Solari will be a huge determining factor in whether Ifedi succeeds. Pocic was too light as a rookie and got pushed around a lot at guard. He should be much improved, likely moving to the left side between veterans Duane Brown and Justin Britt. D.J. Fluker will plug in at right guard for 2018, but the Hawks will need a longer-term solution there.
The projected unit of Brown, Pocic, Britt, Fluker and Ifedi should be the best line Seattle has had since the Super Bowl seasons.
The skill players from these two drafts have not done much for Seattle. C.J. Prosise (2016 third-round RB) showed his potential in two big games in 2016, but he has missed 21 of 32 games overall and is on his last chance. Nick Vannett (2016 third-round TE) will get a huge opportunity to contribute this year, with Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson departed. Vannett has shown flashes; he just needs playing time.
Carroll recently said he lamented not seeing much of 2017 rookie receivers Amara Darboh (third round) and David Moore (seventh). With Paul Richardson gone, both will get their chances to show they deserve to join Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett in three-receiver sets. Based on draft status, Darboh clearly is expected to take a huge step this year.
Chris Carson (seventh-round RB) was the surprise of the 2017 draft and is expected to win the starting job again this year. But his health will be a concern until he proves he can play a full season.
Beyond Reed, Griffin and Jones, there are a lot of question marks in those core picks from the past two years. If most of them fail, as happened with the 2013-15 draft classes, the Seahawks will be in big trouble — even if they find two or three key players in this draft.