“You never hear a doctor come out of a surgery, ‘You know what, I don’t know if that was such a good surgery.’” — John Schneider
As always, and as with every team, the Seahawks think their draft went well. Of course, they got their typical mixed reviews from analysts (the NFL’s worst grade in this composite) — understandable considering they drafted Rashaad Penny and Will Dissly higher than most ranked them and then traded up for a punter.
We’ve long known Schneider is not great at getting the best value for his picks — certainly not like the Patriots and some other teams are — but, throwing draft strategy out, it looks like the Hawks landed five roster locks and a couple of potential projects. And they kept Earl Thomas (reportedly ignoring Dallas’ offer of a third-round pick on Day 2).
Schneider and Pete Carroll addressed the running game with Penny and Dissly, the best blocking tight end in the draft. They remade their special teams with Penny as kick returner and Michael Dickson as punter. They tried to beef up their defensive line for the future with versatile Rasheem Green. And they made the feel-good pick of the draft, reuniting one-handed linebacker Shaquem Griffin with brother Shaquill.
Here’s a look at where the roster stands after the draft:
Top vets: Russell Wilson, Austin Davis.
Top rookie: Alex McGough (7th).
Projection: McGough is the first QB drafted by Seattle since Wilson in 2012. But don’t expect him to make the club; if he shows any promise, he likely will end up on the practice squad. Davis is back and will help Wilson absorb Brian Schottenheimer’s offense.
Schneider on McGough: “He’s going to be really fun. He’s got this great attitude about him; he’s a really cool kid. Great feet, great movement skills, tough, aggressive. We’re excited. And he was totally under the radar as far as quarterbacks go; he was an under-the-radar guy.”
Top vets: Chris Carson, Mike Davis, C.J. Prosise, J.D. McKissic, Tre Madden (FB).
Top rookies: Rashaad Penny (1st), Khalid Hill (UDFA).
Projection: If Penny is not the starter — if he’s just a kick returner and rotation runner — it will have been a wasted first-round pick. He might be only a two-down back to start, though, because his pass protection needs work. But the Hawks think he can play all three downs. As for the rest of the group, just assume Prosise won’t be healthy, so Carson, Davis and McKissic probably will be the other backs. Hill could push for the fullback spot.
Carroll on Penny: “I do think that it will be a nice fit and he’s really excited about being a three-down guy. Some of the best guys in the league are guys that can play on first down, second down, third down. … Fortunately, Chris is in that same mold. He can play all three downs, too, and we know that when we saw C.J. healthy, he could also. It gives us a really good, competitive room.”
Top vets: Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Jaron Brown, Amara Darboh, Tanner McEvoy, Marcus Johnson, David Moore.
Top rookie: None.
Projection: Lockett figures to have a great rebound season, especially with Penny possibly taking kick return duties. Brown and Darboh are the favorites to lock down the third and fourth receiving spots. The Seahawks added a few UDFAs who might push McEvoy, Johnson and Moore for the fifth and final position.
Top vets: Ed Dickson, Nick Vannett, Tyrone Swoopes.
Top rookie: Will Dissly (4th).
Projection: Dissly was a reach in the fourth round, but the Seahawks were very eager to secure the draft’s best blocking tight end. Dissly is expected to push Vannett for the No. 2 spot behind Dickson, who also is a great blocker. The Hawks obviously plan to use a lot of two-TE sets in the running game.
Schneider on Dissly: “Will was the guy everybody — our personnel staff, our coaches — have really invested in, and had a really strong interest in him. We talk about our fit guys, and he’s been a guy we’ve been very interested in for a long time.”
Top vets: Duane Brown, Justin Britt, D.J. Fluker, Ethan Pocic, Germain Ifedi, George Fant, Rees Odhiambo, Joey Hunt, Jordan Roos, Isaiah Battle.
Top rookies: Jamarco Jones (5th), Skyler Phillips (UDFA).
Projection: A lot of people wondered why the Seahawks didn’t address this unit before the fifth round, but the answer is very simple: The top five are all former first- and second-round picks, and Carroll is counting on Mike Solari to coach them up. The depth is not very good, so Jones should be able to make the team. With Jones working behind Brown, Fant could push Ifedi at RT. With Pocic able to play center, there’s no reason to keep Hunt. And Odhiambo needs to improve vastly if he’s going to make the roster this year.
Schneider on Jones: “He’s been working out with LeCharles Bentley. … We had some really good information on how he’s been working and improving since (a poor Combine). Not everyone goes to the Combine and kicks butt. You have to rank everybody and grade everybody in the Combine and some people were on him I guess.”
Top vets: Frank Clark, Jarran Reed, Nazair Jones, Dion Jordan, Marcus Smith, Tom Johnson, Shamar Stephen, Branden Jackson, Quinton Jefferson.
Top rookies: Rasheem Green (3rd), Jake Martin (6th), Poona Ford (UDFA), Marcell Frazier (UDFA).
Projection: We’re assuming Cliff Avril and Malik McDowell are done. The Hawks also have lost Michael Bennett and Sheldon Richardson, replacing them with Johnson, Stephen and Green. Martin and the UDFAs have an uphill battle in a pretty talented group that includes three former first-round picks. It’s a good mix of run and pass defenders that might not be far off the production of the line that included Avril and Bennett.
Carroll on Green: “Our expectation is that we’re going to play him at five-technique, we’re going to play him at defensive end and use him as an inside rusher as well in nickel situations and we’ll see what that brings us. … We needed a little help there so it’s a good get for us. … He’s really young; he’s a 20-year-old kid. He’s got a lot of potential to grow. We’ll move him all around and figure it out.”
Schneider on Martin: “He’s all about what we are. He was a fit guy for us. A little bit undersized as a rusher. Huge motor, really tough. He just keeps coming. He’s really fun to watch. He’s one of those guys that just have a natural passion for the game and he just keeps coming.”
Top vets: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Barkevious Mingo, D.J. Alexander, Paul Dawson.
Top rookies: Shaquem Griffin (5th), Jacob Pugh (UDFA).
Projection: All eyes will be on Griffin, and he should become a big contributor for the Hawks. Griffin, Alexander and Mingo should all be major special-teams guys, and Mingo and Griffin are likely to be used in various pass-rush packages, too.
Carroll on Griffin: “We’re going to play him at the weak linebacker spot and see how that works out, to give him a chance to run and chase the football, which he is really adept at doing. We’re going to count on him to be a big factor on special teams, which he has shown us that he has a great knack for. We’re going to try to put him in spots where we can utilize the great speed that he has, and he’s as fast as you can get as a linebacker (4.38 40).”
Top vets: Earl Thomas, Bradley McDougald, Shaquill Griffin, Byron Maxwell, Justin Coleman, Delano Hill, Neiko Thorpe, Tedric Thompson, DeAndre Elliott, Dontae Johnson, Mo Alexander.
Top rookie: Tre Flowers (5th).
Projection: Thomas was not traded, so he and McDougald should be the starting safeties — assuming Thomas does not hold out like Kam Chancellor did in 2015. Maxwell reportedly re-signed, which means he is the favorite to start opposite Griffin. Coleman was stellar at nickel corner in 2017 and will retain that role. Carroll typically keeps 10 DBs, so Flowers needs to vault a few guys to avoid getting bumped to the practice squad. Hill (presumed future at strong safety), Elliott (coming off injury) and Johnson (former 49ers starter) are ones to watch.
Carroll on Thomas: “You may have looked at it like he wasn’t going to be here, but we didn’t look at it like that. That’s been a lot of speculation on your guys’ end of this thing. We’ve been counting on Earl being here the whole time.”
Carroll on Flowers: “This is a guy that I really liked. He’s played over three years as a starter at Oklahoma State at free safety. … (I like) the fact that he’s over 6-3 and that he runs 4.4 and that he’s got great length and good ball skills and he’s a good tackler and works hard at the game in general. … We want to give him a shot at (corner), and that just happens to be one of our favorite attempts. We’re going to take a guy from a different spot and move him and we’ll see how he does knowing that he’s going to be a really good contributor on special teams. The ball sense that he has and the awareness that he has, this kid is going to be really exciting to watch. We’ll see how that comes about.”
Top vets: Sebastian Janikowski, Jon Ryan, Tyler Ott, Jason Myers.
Top rookies: Michael Dickson (5th), Tanner Crew (UDFA).
Projection: The Seahawks are remaking their kicking games, with Janikowski and Dickson expected to win those jobs. Crew could challenge Ott at long snapper, too. The return games also will get a bit of a makeover, with Penny joining Lockett and McKissic in the mix. Of course, only 40 percent of kickoffs were returned in 2017, and the NFL is considering removing them entirely, so that aspect of the game is becoming almost obsolete.
Schneider on Dickson: “First of all, we both love Jon Ryan, so this is all about competition. … I was with a team that drafted a punter in the third round that completely failed. I was with a team that drafted a kicker that was beat out by a rookie free agent, so it’s all about competition. (Dickson) is unique; he can do stuff with the ball that we haven’t seen yet. We’re really intrigued to see how that translates … but this guy does stuff with the ball that’s amazing.”