Another volume draft, but what are the odds these guys stick?

NFL draftJohn Schneider is getting all kinds of accolades for turning four draft picks into 11 last week, in keeping with his mantra that “the more picks you have, the better your chance of improving your team.”

That’s not necessarily true. And Schneider needs only look at his own team to see it. So, what are the chances of these new guys making this club — especially given recent history?

After turning in the best three-year draft period (2010-12) in 20 years, Schneider and the Seahawks went into a prolonged slump that turned them into the NFL’s worst drafting team. Despite tying for the second-most picks in the league (58) from 2013 to 2018, the Seahawks have gotten the least out of those players, according to Pro Football Reference’s AV stat.

Sure, you could say the Seahawks were so stacked in 2013-16 that it was hard to make the team, and some of those draft picks are starting to take advantage of open spots now that longtime stars are gone. But Schneider also admitted they drafted the wrong kinds of players — “red flag” players or guys who were satisfied to sit behind those stars.

From 2013 to 2015, just 25 percent of Seattle’s draft picks (7 of 28) stuck with the team and contributed (almost half of them are out of the league now).

Half of the 10-man 2016 draft class has contributed, but there is only one budding star (Jarran Reed), and the others (Germain Ifedi, Nick Vannett, Quinton Jefferson, Joey Hunt) might be gone next year.

The 2017 class is teetering on the same kind of failure as those 2013-15 classes. Eight of 11 picks are still on the team, but four are in danger of getting bumped off the roster this year and the three starters need to prove they can hold their spots.

The dearth of draft talent in 2013-15 helps explain why the Seahawks were blown out in divisional road playoff games in 2015 and 2016 and then missed the playoffs in 2017. They didn’t have the depth to compensate for key injuries or have the talent (or coaching) up front on offense.

The rebirth of the running game (under new coaching), a mostly efficient passing game and a league-best turnover margin were the reasons Seattle returned to the postseason in 2018.

Pete Carroll says his roster is now like 2013-14, when it was hard for rookies to make it. If that’s true, though, why did he let Schneider do another volume draft? Why 11 guys if, according to Carroll, most of them won’t make the team?

This team is good, obviously, and should get better. But it isn’t really that stacked. There are not many stars — maybe three or four on each side of the ball. To get back to the Super Bowl, they will need some more to emerge from recent drafts.

The 2019 class is getting generally good reviews, even though it looks like a very developmental group. Since we have a decade’s worth of Schneider’s draft history to find trends, let’s see how this class might project.

1: DE L.J. Collier
First-round history: 3/4 (2 TBD) — 75%
Defensive line history: 4/14 (2 TBD) — 29%
The Hawks have to hope Collier is at least what Bruce Irvin was as a rookie (eight sacks). Even though they reached for him, like they do most of their first-rounders, Collier seems capable of becoming a solid contributor for Seattle. Given the complete lack of pass rushers, he should start Day 1.

2: S Marquise Blair and WR D.K. Metcalf
Second-round history: 6/9 — 66%
Safety history: 4/8 — 50%
Receiver history: 3/9 — 33%
The Seahawks need to make up for a horrible 2017 second round that featured Malik McDowell and Ethan Pocic. McDowell never played for Seattle, and Pocic has barely done much better. Blair and Metcalf both seem like big-time projects who might basically be redshirts in 2019. It wouldn’t be a surprise if one of them failed to create a spot for himself by 2021 and found himself in Pocic’s position, fighting for a roster spot. But Seattle has not made many mistakes in the second round, so odds are these guys will turn into contributors by Year 2.

3: LB Cody Barton 
Third-round history: 4/9 (3 TBD) — 43%
Linebacker history: 4/7 (1 TBD) — 57%
Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett are major standouts in this round, but Seattle’s recent third-rounders have largely failed. Seattle has picked eight guys in the third round since 2016, and Shaquill Griffin is the only one who has become a starter — and he still needs to prove he should remain one. Reaching for Combine standout Barton seemed like the wrong move, especially when Seattle could have taken another pass rusher (Jaylon Ferguson, Oshane Ximines, et al.). Maybe Barton will end up replacing Wright in 2021, but he’d have to buck a pretty shaky recent third-round history.

4: WR Gary Jennings, OG Phil Haynes, FS Ugo Amadi
Fourth-round history: 4/12 (2 TBD) — 33%
Receiver history: 3/9 — 33%
Offensive line history: 5/17 (1 TBD) — 29%
Safety history: 4/8 — 50%
The Hawks have been terrible with fourth-round receivers (0 for 3), but Jennings seems talented enough to overcome those lousy odds. Haynes looks more like a Mark Glowinski pick than a Terry Poole, which is good. Maybe he bumps Pocic or even Mike Iupati. Or maybe he joins the dozen drafted linemen who never made it. Amadi will be pushing fellow fourth-rounder Thompson, but is he good enough to make the squad as a rookie? The odds say only one of these guys will make it; if so, Jennings is probably the guy.

5: LB Ben Burr-Kirven 
Fifth-round history: 6/13 (2 TBD) — 46%
Linebacker history: 4/7 (1 TBD) — 57%
Is Schneider on another fifth-round run like he had in 2010-11, when he found Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman? The fifths from 2018 looked good — Michael Dickson was an All-Pro, Tre Flowers converted to and started at corner, Jamarco Jones looked like a possible starter at tackle eventually. Perhaps Burr-Kirven will push Shaquem Griffin or Barky Mingo for a roster spot.

6: RB Travis Homer and DT Demarcus Christmas
Sixth-round history: 4/13 — 31%
Running back history: 2/8 (1 TBD) — 25%
Defensive line history: 4/14 (2 TBD) — 29%
Seattle’s only notable sixth-rounders have been Byron Maxwell, Jeremy Lane, Joey Hunt and Jacob Martin, who made it last year because the Hawks had no pass rushers. Now, the Hawks have some openings at running back and defensive tackle. If Homer can show versatility, he might be able to snag the fourth RB spot. The Hawks are 2 for 10 on DL drafted on Day 3, so Christmas will probably be gifted a spot on the practice squad, especially once the Hawks add a veteran tackle.

7: WR John Ursua 
Seventh-round history: 4/17 — 24%
Receiver history: 3/9 — 33%
Ursua is just the second player Schneider has used a future pick to draft (Quinton Jefferson was the other). It’s tough for seventh-rounders to earn playing time, even if they make the roster, but there’s certainly an opening for Ursua in a weak receiving corps, if he’s good enough. David Moore, a 2017 seventh-rounder, spent most of his rookie season on the practice unit, then stepped up in 2018. Maybe Ursua will follow that path.

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4 thoughts on “Another volume draft, but what are the odds these guys stick?”

  1. I wonder what the drafts look like by position — I.e., how successfully have they have drafted linebackers etc.

    It would also be interesting to see how your assessment would look minus the offensive lineman drafted while Cable was in Seattle. His tenure was a disaster — even when they won, it was in spite of him.

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    1. OLs drafted under Cable–

      2011: James Carpenter (1), John Moffit (3)
      2012: JR Sweezy (7)
      2013: Ryan Seymour (7), Michael Bowie (7)
      2014: Justin Britt (2), Garrett Scott (6)
      2015: Terry Poole (4), Mark Glowinski (4)
      2016: Germain Ifedi (1), Rees Odhiambo (3), Joey Hunt (7)
      2017: Ethan Pocic (2)

      Given how quickly Mike Solari stabilized the line, I have to wonder what he could have helped them draft in 2014-2015. Conceivably, then, they could have used the high 2016-2017 picks on other positions.

      E.g., in 2016, they could have traded down again and still drafted Xavien Howard. Which means that they could have passed on Shaquill Griffin the next year and gotten — say — James Conner or Tariq Cohen, which would have meant no pressure to use the 2018 #1 on a running back… Hindsight is 20/20 of course, but you can what the possibilities were. Plus, Russell doesn’t get hurt.

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