The draft is always an important roster tool, simply because it ideally brings cheap talent and helps create a core. But some drafts are more important than others. Here we rank John Schneider’s drafts, from most to least significant (based on draft capital and needs, not results):
In his first draft, Schneider had two first-round picks. That’s a good way to start an era with a bang. He used both wisely, getting LT Russell Okung sixth overall and FS Earl Thomas at 14. He also landed Golden Tate and Kam Chancellor in a very strong opening draft that created a base for the Super Bowl runs that were to come over the five years.
Quarterback was the main need in 2011, and Schneider passed on Andy Dalton to take James Carpenter at No. 25. Cincinnati took Dalton at 35 and San Francisco grabbed Colin Kaepernick at 36 – and Seattle went with Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst at QB in 2011. Despite the Carpenter reach, Schneider still got K.J. Wright, Richard Sherman and Malcolm Smith in that 2011 draft as the Legion of Boom was born.
Seattle still was without a QB in 2012. Schneider and Pete Carroll stalked Peyton Manning on the Denver tarmac and were roundly rejected. They ended up signing one-game wonder Matt Flynn before Schneider took a third-round flyer on a short overachiever named Russell Wilson. We wanted OG David DeCastro in the first round, but Schneider took Bruce Irvin instead. He made up for that reach with a great second-round pick of Bobby Wagner. Schneider’s 2010-12 drafts were the best stretch of drafting by any team in 20 years and set up the club for the two Super Bowls that immediately followed.
Schneider had 11 picks in the first two days of these drafts – the perfect scenario to reload as the Legion of Boom had begun to be affected by injuries. These drafts were very significant, and Schneider whiffed (just two hits in 11 picks). His OL choices were bad, his gamble on Malik McDowell as his first pick in 2017 was a colossal miss, and he failed to replace the LOB. These bad drafts are a big reason he has been patching together “win now” rosters with veteran trades every year since and went the veteran route at both safety spots.
After Frank Clark was traded just before the 2019 draft, pass rusher became a dire need. Schneider reached to fill it in both of these drafts. But both of his picks, L.J. Collier and Darrell Taylor, sat out their rookie years with injuries. That forced Schneider to make trades for veterans – Jadeveon Clowney in 2019 and Carlos Dunlap in 2020.
With the Super Bowl roster still loaded (especially after veteran pass rushers Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett signed in 2013), the 2013-15 drafts were focused on luxury and future picks. The 2013 session was a total dud, led by the blockbuster deal for Percy Harvin and the busted second-round pick of Christine Michael. The 2014 draft was not much better, though Paul Richardson and Justin Britt both performed well later in their rookie contracts (both earning new deals, Britt in Seattle and P-Rich in DC). Schneider went for splash players in 2015 — trading for Jimmy Graham, drafting Frank Clark and trading up for Tyler Lockett. They were all good moves, even if Graham was a relative disappointment because the coaches used him poorly.
The 2018 draft was not nearly as significant as the preceding two, although the Seahawks were desperate to fix a broken running game and made an ill-advised reach for Rashaad Penny. They also needed pass rushers after losing Avril and Bennett, but it was a bad year for them and they had to settle for Rasheem Green, who was a third-round redshirt.
The 2021 draft is not exactly a luxury draft – Seattle could use a good corner, O-line help and another pass catcher – but the roster is largely set for next season and the circumstances (pre-draft prep and number of picks) make this one of the least significant drafts Schneider has faced.