Draft season is about to officially begin, with the all-star bowls this weekend and next, which has prompted a new round of mock drafts.
It also raises a key question for Seattle: How will John Schneider get from his current four picks to his usual nine or 10? Will he play the comp game and use 2020 picks? Or will he just do what he did in 2017 — trade down three times?
John Clayton suggests he needs to stay out of the UFA market this time so he can add 2020 comp picks he might use in trades during the 2019 draft.
That’s a bit of a three-step gamble — that (1) guys such as Earl Thomas, K.J. Wright, Shamar Stephen and Mike Davis will qualify, (2) Schneider will be able to add some vets who won’t qualify and (3) the general manager will then be able to parlay 2020 picks into 2019 selections.
That’s a little more complex than just doing what Schneider did in 2017, when he moved down three times (from 26 overall to 31 to 34 to 35) and added four more picks (a 3, 4, 6, 7). Repeating that strategy could get the Hawks to eight picks, which is probably the best Schneider can hope for.
Eight is the fewest he has ever had (the 2015 draft); he has averaged 10 over his nine Seattle drafts.
Seattle has just four picks this time because Schneider traded his second-rounder for Duane Brown in 2017, his sixth for Brett Hundley and his seventh for Shalom Luani. The Brown deal already has paid off in spades, Hundley looks like a one-year rental and Luani (who played in 12 games) is an ERFA, tied to Seattle for another year.
Seattle will have no comp picks this year because Schneider signed five UFAs in 2018 and lost four. He knew he could have ended up with a couple of fourth-rounders, but he needed to add some vets to what turned out to be the league’s second-youngest team.
As he said last offseason, “It just so happens that these (added) guys happen to be unrestricted free agents. We’ve been involved with other guys that were cut and don’t count towards compensatory picks, but we’re not just going to pass on guys and sit on our hands. We want our fans knowing that we’re busting our tail at every avenue.”
The net effect: He basically traded one fourth for one-year deals with starters Stephen and D.J. Fluker and another fourth for two years of Jaron Brown (if he is not cut this offseason).
If Schneider is able to keep Fluker and/or J.R. Sweezy, Frank Clark and Justin Coleman, he’ll have few veteran needs (defensive tackle, safety, linebacker) and might be back in the COMPetition this year — unless he’s willing to splurge in free agency with what could be anywhere from $8 million to $20 million in remaining space (even after extensions for Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner).
Whatever Schneider does in free agency, though, expect him to trade down, down, down again to double his draft picks.
As draftniks everywhere get set to watch the East-West Shrine Game and NFLPA Collegiate Bowl today and the Senior Bowl next weekend, here are some players being mocked to Seattle at 21:
DE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
Daniel Jeremiah: “The Seahawks need to find a complementary pass rusher for Frank Clark. … Sweat has outstanding length, burst and production.”
TE T.J. Hockenson, Iowa
Rob Staton: “Ed Dickson missed several games and had hot and cold games in his first season. They can save nearly $3m by cutting him. Nick Vannett is a free agent after 2019. Will Dissly is recovering from a serious knee injury. … Hockenson blocks well (sometimes with real aggression), has a very fluid running style with the ability to get deep and he looks like a potential playmaker with the experience operating in a run-centric scheme.”
S Deionte Thompson, Alabama
Luke Easterling: “The reign of Legion of Boom has ended, but that doesn’t mean the Seahawks can’t reload for another try with some younger talent. Thompson is a big, athletic defender with the range and physicality to make plays all over the field.”
WR N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
Chris Trapasso: “The Seahawks need some size in their receiver room. Harry is 6-4 and a tremendous high-pointer. He may not hit some of Seattle’s athleticism thresholds, but I expect him to test well in the jumps in Indianapolis.”
At Shrine game practices, the Seahawks reportedly have been paying close attention to Buffalo LB Khalil Hodge, Mississippi State CB Jamal Peters, Georgia WR Terry Godwin and Old Dominion WR Jon Duhart.
Other Shrine players who could catch the eyes of Seahawks scouts include Nebraska RB Devine Ozigbo, Arizona WR Shawn Poindexter, Kentucky OG Bunchy Stallings and Tennessee DE Kyle Phillips.