When the Seahawks were considered annual contenders, from 2012 to 2017, they had a core of 9-10 stars. Seven of them were on defense.
As they embark on a rebuild, the big question is: How far away from that kind of nucleus are they right now? And how much closer can they get through the upcoming draft?
The “power core” has lost a lot of energy ever since 2018, and John Schneider has not done a good enough job recharging it. He basically has been MacGyvering it to make up for his own failures at the top of the draft.
Consider: In his historic 2010-12 run, he found starters with 75% of his picks (6 of 8) on Day 1 and 2. He also found five steady starters on Day 3, giving him an average of 3.7 starters per draft.
From 2013 to 2015, he averaged only one starter per year, hitting on 50% of his Day 1-2 picks (3 of 6). But the Hawks still had their Super Bowl core in place, so those misses largely were overlooked by media and fans.
His biggest failure was not hitting on the Legion of Boom replacements in the 2016-18 drafts. Despite having 13 picks on Day 1-2 in those drafts, he found just three starters — a dismal 23% hit rate. He did find three late-round starters (we’re counting Michael Dickson because he is a superstar), but Chris Carson cannot stay healthy and Tre Flowers was merely a default starter until he was waived.
Schneider also was just 1 for 4 in the first three rounds of the 2019 draft, although Cody Barton will get his chance this year to make that 2 for 4.
Schneider’s 76% failure rate in Rounds 1-3 from 2016 to 2019 is largely why the Seahawks are now in rebuild mode.
At this point, Tyler Lockett, Jamal Adams (an expensive fix for draft failures) and Dickson are the only guys signed for four more seasons. Quandre Diggs (a better fix for draft failures) and four other starters are signed for the next three seasons, and six others are signed for just two years.
So the possible core, for the next two years, is 13 starters (and Dickson). The extended starting core is seven. Or eight, if DK Metcalf is re-signed.
But how many of those starters are “power core” players — the kind of guys who can help lead the franchise back to the Super Bowl? Lockett, Diggs, Jordyn Brooks. Metcalf, if he is extended. That’s it.
Darrell Taylor and Adams were brought in to be stars, but they have not shown it yet — 2022 will be a telling season for both of them.
Damien Lewis and Will Dissly are among the seven starters signed through 2024, but they are not game changers. Tre Brown, once healthy, may have a shot at becoming one. Maybe new pass rusher Uchenna Nwosu will.
But, for now, there are just three stars locked in (four if you count Dickson).
So, other than the all-important playoff-caliber QB, Seattle needs five or six more electric players in its “power core” if it is to become a contender again.
Most of them need to come on defense, because that side is going to carry this team. They need a dominant lineman for their three-man front, a star pass rusher, a linebacker to pair with Brooks and a shutdown corner.
This is why trading Metcalf would not necessarily be a bad move. If the Hawks can add three more picks in the first two days (e.g., get 10 and 69 from the Jets and trade down from 10 to add a Day 2 pick), they would have six picks in the first three rounds. That’s six shots at finding new core stars.
The top pick, whether at No. 9 or a little further down after a trade, would be one of those expected new impact guys. Then two of the five others ideally would come through (assuming Schneider would do better with higher picks, like the 2010-12 drafts).
With two first-rounders and two seconds in 2023, the Hawks then ideally could add two more stars – assuming they don’t use the picks to move up for a QB.
If the Hawks keep Metcalf (and extend him later), they would have four stars plus hopefully two out of this draft and two out of the 2023 draft. Then see whether Taylor, Adams, Brown and/or Nwosu step up big on defense.
The Hawks reportedly are not taking offers on Metcalf yet, but we think they are just letting the fervor build and will start listening and negotiating the best price in the days leading up to the draft.
Seattle reportedly wants the equivalent of two first-rounders to consider any deal. The Jets may be willing to include the No. 10 pick, so 10 and 69 from them would work. Kansas City has two low first-rounders as well.
You don’t need star receivers to win the Super Bowl. The Seahawks know that, and the Patriots and Eagles have proven it recently as well.
That’s part of the value comparison the Seahawks have to do with Metcalf. Is he worth more as a highly paid member of their offense or as a trade chip that potentially brings in three starters?
Just as we thought Russell Wilson would be traded, we think Metcalf probably will be, too.
Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder is the QB we think may fit the Hawks best, but his stock seems to have vaulted into the bottom of the first round. So, if the Hawks want him, they likely will need to come up from 40 to get him.
Ridder is visiting Seattle this week, but Pittsburgh and Carolina also planned to host him – and Atlanta and Detroit are in the QB market, too.
“There’s a lot of anticipation building up to it. The hardest part of it right now is the sit-and-wait game,” Ridder told WCPO Cincinnati. “I have a couple visits and workouts lined up, but it’s really just the waiting game.”
The corner market
Ridder’s teammate, Sauce Gardner, also has a pre-draft visit planned with the Seahawks.
The Jets, Giants and Eagles also have shown interest in him.
Gardner is expected to be gone by the time the Seahawks pick, possibly to the Jets or Giants, so Seattle also could look at LSU’s Derek Stingley or Washington’s Trent McDuffie in the first round.
Seattle’s DB coaches worked out Stingley at LSU’s Pro Day. Some think Stingley might be the top guy left for Seattle, with pass rushers and Gardner possibly drafted before 9.
The Hawks do not seem married to 32-inch arms anymore, not after starting D.J. Reed and Tre Brown in 2021. Gardner has 33.5-inch arms, but Stingley is under 31 inches and McDuffie is under 30.
In the second round, Seattle’s options could include McDuffie’s UW teammate Kyler Gordon or Florida’s Kaiir Elam (4.39 40).
It wouldn’t be surprising if they waited until the third round, though. Pete Carroll and Schneider have never drafted a corner higher than that (Shaquill Griffin in 2017).
Andy Dickerson likes quick linemen.
Austin Blythe and Stone Forsythe, both added since Dickerson came from the Rams with Shane Waldron last year, have the best shuttle times of Seattle blockers. Dakoda Shepley, also picked up last year, is third.
Two third-round center projects would fit in. Dylan Parham of Memphis would tie for third at 4.7 seconds in the shuttle, and Cole Strange of Chattanooga would be tops on the team at 4.5.
The Seahawks put a lot of stock in Senior Bowl performances, and both Parham and Strange showed well there. However, the Hawks also prefer big-school guys early in the draft – Dee Eskridge (Western Michigan) and Griffin (Central Florida) are notable exceptions.
The Hawks have shown interest in Strange — at the Senior Bowl and in a pre-draft visit.
As for Parham, the Hawks have a good history with Memphis players. In 1978, they used their top two picks on Memphis safety Keith Simpson and linebacker Keith Butler. Both quickly became excellent players for Seattle — Butler was their best ‘backer in the 1980s.
Myers getting the boot?
Fanalysts have been ringing the cowbell for the Hawks to dump Jason Myers and his $4 million salary.
After a perfect 2020 season (24 for 24) that included a 61-yard field goal, Myers was not good in 2021 — hitting just 73.9% of his kicks (17 of 23). That was the second-worst percentage of his seven-year career.
There are signs the Hawks might indeed be considering a change. They reportedly were among the teams looking closely at LSU’s record-setting kicker Cade York during the school’s Pro Day.
Would they consider a fourth- or fifth-round pick on him?
Another third-round possibility is Penn State left tackle Rasheed Walker, who had a scheduled pre-draft visit with the Seahawks. He’s apparently really raw and might end up best as a right tackle.
OLB Michael Clemons (6-5, 263) of Texas A&M has drawn comparisons to Darrell Taylor as a rusher. He has off-field concerns and will be 25 this year, but he might be someone they look at in the fifth round.
CB Kalon Barnes (5-11, 183) of Baylor ran a 4.23 at the Combine. He’s a fifth-round prospect who would need some technique work.