In their seven NFL drafts together since 2010, GM John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll have, as the club’s information gurus noted this week, selected 66 players. Twenty-four remain on Seattle’s roster and 23 are currently with other teams. With a hit rate of 71.2 percent (47 of 66), Schneider and Carroll don’t whiff often.
Curiously, and for all of their draft successes, the franchise brains haven’t particularly dazzled with their first-round selections. It’s true that that they have often picked late in the round after the cream is gone, but they have also located numerous luminaries in later rounds and done exceptionally well with undrafted free agents (Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Thomas Rawls).
In the first round since 2010, Schneider and Carroll have selected only one big star, multiple-time All-Pro safety Earl Thomas. They received adequate production from three other first-round picks, OT Russell Okung (2010), OG James Carpenter (2011) and DE Bruce Irvin (2012). All ultimately departed in free agency.
Thomas and OL Germain Ifedi, selected 31st overall last year out of Texas A&M, are the only No. 1s selected by Schneider and Carroll who remain on the roster. Ifedi, likely to move to right tackle next season to replace Garry Gilliam, gone to the 49ers in free agency, seems to have been “over-drafted” based on his first year in the league. But we’ll see.
For three consecutive years beginning in 2013, Schneider and Carroll parted with first-round picks with mixed results.
The 2013 No. 1 went to Minnesota for WR/KR Percy Harvin, who wore out his welcome in a hurry and played in only six games. The 2014 No. 1 went to the Vikings for picks in the second and fourth rounds that were converted into useful, but hardly star players. And the 2015 No. 1 went to New Orleans for TE Jimmy Graham, who recovered from a severe knee injury to have in 2016 a 65-catch season and a career-high 14.2 yards per catch.
Considering that they have drafted only one star in the first round, it’s amazing at first glance how much success the Seahawks have enjoyed under Schneider and Carroll. Since 2010, Seattle is one of 10 teams to reach the postseason four or more times (six, including the past five in a row). Of the 10, only Green Bay and Baltimore drafted fewer future Pro Bowl players in the first round than the Seahawks.
PB=Pro Bowlers; *=First-team All-Pro
|Atl||3||*WR J. Jones (2011), CB D. Trufant (2013), *LB V. Beasley (2015)|
|KC||3||*CB E. Berry (2010), DT D. Poe (2012), *CB M. Peters (2015)|
|Pitt||3||*C M. Pouncey (2010), *G D. DeCastro (2012), LB R. Shazier (2014)|
|Hou||3||*DE J. Watt (2011), WR D. Hopkins (2013), DE L. Clowney (2014)|
|NE||3||DB D. McCourty (2010), LB D. Hightower (2012), DE C. Jones (2012)|
|Cin||3||TE J. Gresham (2010), WR A. Green (2011), TE T. Eifert (2013)|
|Sea||2||*S E. Thomas (2010), T R. Okung (2010)|
|Den||2||WR D. Thomas (2010), *LB V. Miller (2011)|
|GB||1||DB H. Clinton-Dix (2014)|
|Bal||1||LB C. Mosley (2014)|
Okung received a single Pro Bowl nod in 2012 when the Seahawks won 11 games and defeated Washington in the wild card round, but has not been considered a star. The Seahawks let him walk two years ago.
What the chart suggests is that the first round, for all of the attention it receives, mock and real, is only a small part of roster construction, and not even the most important part, which is especially true for Schneider and Carroll.
Since they began drafting on Seattle’s behalf, they selected seven players after the first round who have received one or more Pro Bowl invitations. Along with Thomas, four of those Pro Bowlers form the core of the team’s defense: SS Kam Chancellor (5th, 2010), LB K.J. Wright (4th, 2011), CB Richard Sherman (5th, 2011), and LB Bobby Wagner (2nd, 2012). The other two are QB Russell Wilson (3rd, 2012) and WR Tyler Lockett (3rd, 2015). A seventh was WR Golden Tate (2nd, 2010), who left in free agency for Detroit in 2014, and a Pro Bowl.
The Washington Post underscored Seattle’s drafting acumen this week in a story, “Does your team botch the NFL draft? Find out here.” Using approximate value (AV), a stat developed by Pro-Football-Reference.com, the Post analyzed how much value teams should have received from their draft picks vs. how much value they actually received. Based on this metric, the Post ranked the teams to see which drafted better against expectations in each season since 1996.
The 2012 Seahawks were hands-down winners with a +152 AV, a mark boosted significantly by Wilson, whom the Post declared the best overall draft pick in the league since 1996 based on the value he added to the franchise vs. the expectations for him when he entered the NFL. Seattle also had the seventh-best AV (194) in 2011 (the article explains all in great detail).
Schneider and Carroll have four options with their No. 1, 26th overall, when the draft begins Thursday: Trade up, trade down, trade it for a player or other picks, or stand pat. Schneider, with seven picks, seemed to telegraph what he would like to do during his press conference Monday.
Of Seattle’s seven picks, five are in the first 106. The Seahawks don’t have a pick in either the fourth or fifth rounds.
“We’d like to have more (draft picks),” Schneider said. “More is better. You want to have picks all the way through.”
If the Seahawks can trade down from No. 26, pick up an extra draft choice, and still get basically the same player at the top of the second round they would have gotten at No. 26, that’s what Schneider seems inclined to do.
Where the Seahawks will pick: