The Seahawks are caught between a rock and a hard spot — not that they would recognize or admit it, of course.
They are terrible drafters in the late first round, which is why it is always good when they move down from the 20s. If they do that this week, they figure to have a good shot at five picks on Day 2. The problem: They messed it up the last two times they had the power on Day 2.
Day 2 is the heart of the draft. If you could find a way to draft five guys on Day 2 every year, you should end up with a strong perennial Super Bowl contender.
The Seahawks had the chance to put together another powerhouse in 2016-17, but they whiffed. They had a combined 10 picks on Day 2 in those two drafts, but they hit on just two. That is why this team has not gotten past the divisional round the past two years and why the roster is basically barren beyond 2021 — with John Schneider patchworking a veteran team for Pete Carroll.
Let’s take a look at how Schneider & Co. messed up that prime two-year opportunity and see what they should do to get it right this time.
In 2015, the Seahawks were often pushed all over the field. That included what almost was a blowout loss to Carolina in the divisional playoffs. In the 2016 draft, they needed help up front, and they needed to add depth at running back (Marshawn Lynch was done and Thomas Rawls was injured) and safety.
For the first time in four years, they picked a guy in the first round, and it was actually a guy most analysts had slotted there: Germain Ifedi. Then the Hawks had four more picks on Day 2.
They started the day strong, moving up from 56 to 49 to take Jarran Reed, who had been considered a first-round option. That nicely addressed their defensive tackle need.
But they messed up the third round. They had big plans for receiver-turned-runner C.J. Prosise at 90, but he continued his injury-prone college ways. Nick Vannett was not a bad pick at 94, and at least Seattle got a fifth in return for him from Pittsburgh last year. But Rees Odhiambo was a huge reach at 97 — just a bad gamble that did not pay off.
Instead of those three, Seattle could have added guard Graham Glasgow, safety Justin Simmons and linebacker De’Vondre Campbell. (We liked Glasgow and Campbell for the Hawks in that draft.)
The 2017 draft was even worse: Seattle went 1 for 6 on Day 2, picking most of the wrong guys as it tried to address needs at DT, OL, CB and safety.
It all started with the self-inflicted freefall from 27 to 35 to take attitude problem Malik McDowell. He never played a down for them. They would have been better off taking the other guy they reportedly were high on, guard Forrest Lamp, even though he got hurt as a rookie with the Chargers and has not done much yet. They also could have gone with a safety, Budda Baker or Marcus Maye.
At 58, the Hawks made a bad selection with Ethan Pocic. Schneider and Carroll thought it was a brilliant move to use a second-round pick on a backup lineman with no real position. Why not take a starting guard instead: Dion Dawkins or Taylor Moton? Or, if they had taken Lamp at 35, maybe defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi?
At 90, the Hawks picked Shaquill Griffin, who looked like a good pick then and has turned out to be. But they whiffed on the last three: Delano Hill (95), Nazair Jones (102) and Amara Darboh (106). Instead of Hill, we really wanted Eddie Jackson, who has become a star in Chicago. Rather than Jones and Darboh, Seattle could have picked James Conner and DeDe Westbrook (to name a couple).
Schneider & Co. have made slightly better Day 2 picks the past two years. Rasheem Green took a big step forward in his second year, D.K. Metcalf was excellent as a rookie and Marquise Blair looks like he could be a very good player (if Carroll ever puts him on the field).
Now here comes another potentially big Day 2. Will Schneider and the gang get it right this time?
Of course there are always wide opinions on what a team should do in the draft, but it’s pretty clear the Hawks are going to try to move down or out of the first round again. And they should. They reportedly rate just 16-17 players as first-round material, which is lower than the usual number in the low 20s. Ideally, they will drop enough to add a third-round pick, which would give them five selections on Day 2.
They need to come out of that day with a tackle on both sides, and then they need to look at edge rusher, center, running back and maybe wide receiver or corner.
Unlike the first round, the Hawks usually stay true to consensus in the second. Schneider has drafted 11 second-rounders over his 10 years in Seattle: WR Golden Tate, LB Bobby Wagner, RB Christine Michael, WR Paul Richardson, OT Justin Britt, DE Frank Clark, DT Jarran Reed, DT Malik McDowell, OL Ethan Pocic, SS Marquise Blair, WR D.K. Metcalf.
Britt was an admitted reach because the Hawks did not have a third-rounder in 2014 and felt the tackles would all be gone by the time the fourth round came. But the rest of those picks were all rated second-round talent by media analysts, even if the Hawks had no real use for Michael, made a bad gamble on McDowell and had no idea where they would play Pocic.
We grade Schneider at a B-minus in the second round (the F on the horrible McDowell pick drags it down), but 2019 picks Blair and Metcalf and this year’s rookies can bring that back up.
This year, we think the Hawks will drop into the 30s first, considering Jonathan Taylor or Jalen Reagor — their presumed favored skill players — if either is still there. Otherwise, expect another drop to the 40s, as they did in 2014 (picking Richardson) and 2017 (McDowell).
They still would have all kinds of options. Some Day 2 mocks we ran via Pro Football Network:
A move down with Detroit sets up a big-man draft, with pass-rushing linebacker Baun slipping to 52 due to a diluted drug test at the Combine.
A trade with Indy sets up another big-man draft led by the center and a do-it-all running back.
Moving down to Jacksonville’s spot at 42 via a couple of deals sets up a BIG day, with two D-tackles.
This involves a trade down to 30 and then a big drop to 44 with Indy, which sets up a really nice Rounds 2-4 that surprisingly start with a corner.