Hawks ‘elated’ they already made their first pick

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Trent Kirchner has admitted what we already knew: The Seahawks basically bailed on this draft due to the pandemic.

They’re not totally out of it, obviously, and his scouts actually have been working on this draft since last May. But Kirchner and Matt Berry, John Schneider’s top personnel lieutenants, confirmed to Seahawks.com that the Jamal Adams trade was made with this unpredictable draft in mind, and they said it has been hard to get the information they need and that next year’s draft will be much deeper.

By last summer, the Seahawks already had a good idea of what a mess the college season and draft prep would be for 2021. So they were comfortable sending this year’s No. 1 and 3 plus the 2022 first-rounder for Adams.

“John pretty much nailed that one,” Kirchner said. “That was talked about when we did it. It was discussed in terms of, ‘The amount of information we’ll have next year, who knows what it’s going to be?’ So looking back at it, you’re looking at Jamal Adams as your first-round pick, you’re elated.”

As we said in another post, the Seahawks already have conducted a big part of this draft – getting Adams, Carlos Dunlap and Gabe Jackson with four 2021 picks.

“Any time you can add players to your team, be it through the draft or trade or free agency, that you know are going to help your team right away, you want to do that,” Berry said. “And in the case of those trades, it’s more expensive, but there’s less uncertainty. We’re jacked up about it.”

The Seahawks say the depth of this draft was dented by the pandemic, with a lot of players taking advantage of the NCAA allowing them an extra year. That was no surprise.

Tyler Ramsey, Seattle’s West scout, said about a third of the usual number of college players signed with agents this year – 650-700 guys instead of the 1,800 or 1,900 of the past couple of years.

“The overall numbers in this draft are down,” Kirchner said, “but the biggest area it’s going to affect is undrafted free agency.” Competition will be fierce.

Draft insider Tony Pauline reported: “Considering the overall lack of depth in this draft, the UDFA market will be hot. … Off-the-record negotiations have already begun. … Expect the top UDFAs to receive signing bonuses in the range of $50,000 and (salaries) in excess of $100,000.”

Berry said the lower numbers this year will translate into a better overall draft in 2022: “Next year’s class is going to be incredibly deep, and you might be able to get some more quality players than you normally would.”

The Hawks are without their first-rounder next year, but they got an extra fourth from the Jets in that Adams deal. They will not have any comp picks, but you can imagine Schneider wanting to move down to get up to 10-11 picks in 2022.

As for this draft, the Hawks have had to dig hard just to get what little information they have. They started calling schools for unfiltered intel on players right after the 2020 draft and have been using analytics to make up for the lack of a Combine, projecting testing results off game film for some players.

“I think it’s digging into the process more, and with there being less information, you just have to dig a little bit harder,” Kirchner said. “It’s less information, but I don’t feel like we’re less informed, if that makes sense.” In other words, the whole league is in the same boat.

Berry said teams usually have full medical reports on 350 prospects; this year that total is closer to 150 because fewer players were at the medical recheck in Indianapolis. “So there’s a lot more questions about players’ health and longevity,” Berry said.

The Seahawks faced that issue last year with Darrell Taylor, who ended up sitting out the season because his injured leg (stress fracture) never felt right.

Another big issue this year: Less in-person chatter with other teams, agents and players, from the Combine and pro days, means “there will be more surprises than in the past,” Kirchner predicted.

Ramsey said not having a Combine “is big. That’s a level playing field to measure guys against each other, and it’s a week of information gathering among your peers. It’ll be very interesting to see which teams come out of this better and which teams don’t in the long run. And I could see it being more unpredictable, yeah. There’s definitely going to be surprises.”

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