On the NFL Draft and Rebuilding a Roster: Pete Carroll and John Schneider, a Year Later Part I

The following quotes are all from a few interview transcripts I found on the Seahawks media site, and are from just under a year ago, taken just before and just after the 2011 Draft, I believe. I bring them to your attention for two reasons. One, I just found them. Two, I find them interesting.

Actually, two more reasons - a) we're nearing Draft time and they may be applicable or illuminating, and b) it's intriguing to look back a year and see the manifestation of some of the things they're talking about in regards to this team getting younger, faster, stronger, and most importantly, deeper at every position. I'm exceedingly fascinated with the front office and just the methodical nature in which it appears they're working. How does the Seahawks organization work, from a business practices perspective? How do they grade players? What do they do to prepare? What's it like having such a sweet ass job? These quotes don't tell us everything and like anything you have to take them with a grain of salt, but I find them interesting nonetheless.

Some of these might be pretty familiar, but provide good talking points. First off, a little on John Schneider's vision for the team from one year ago:

"I would like to be younger. The way we finished the [2010] season was great, philosophically for Pete (Carroll) and his staff and the culture of the team and the culture of the locker room and buying into his philosophy."

"But, we didn't have that much depth and you guys saw how many transactions we made to just try and add quality depth. And then we got to a point in the season where we started getting hit hard with injuries and we started running out of guys and had to add some veteran-types. So we did some things to just fill some holes where we ended up getting a little older."

Schneider is likely referring to injuries suffered on the defensive line in particular, I would think. They brought back then 30-year old Craig Terrill and played 32-year olds Junior Siavii and Raheem Brock probably more extensively than they wanted. In terms of the age factor that he constantly cites, other key contributors during the 2010 season were 37-year old Lawyer Milloy, 30-year old Colin Cole, 28-year old Jordan Babineaux, 28-year old Lofa Tatupu, 30-year old Marcus Trufant, and 28-year old Kelly Kennings.

None of those players remain, save for Trufant, who is now a free agent and may not return.

On the offensive side, the Seahawks ran with then 33-year old Ben Hamilton for a while, Chester Pitts (31) at times, Chris Baker (31), Sean Locklear (29), Chris Spencer (28), Stacy Andrews (29), Brandon Stokley (34), and of course Matt Hasselbeck (35). Kicker Olindo Mare was 37 and Julius Jones (29) and Deion Branch (31) started the year with the team.

None of these players remain. Schneider continued:

"We want to be young, tough, smart, fast, and aggressive. We want that to be our staple and get this roster where every year we go into the draft that is what we are doing - we are just adding to that group."

This is just a reminder of the point that many have made around here that the veteran group from the 2010 season were mostly stop-gap solutions for the front office so they could get their roster where they wanted it. I don't have the numbers in front of me (though Davis probably does somewhere in his Beautiful Mind), but I'd say the average age on the team has dropped by several years in the past season, which is very, very significant.

Players like Lemuel Jeanpierre (24) and Breno Giacomini (26) replace the Ben Hamiltons and Chester Pittses. Paul McQuistan (28) replaces the Sean Locklears and Stacy Andrewses. Clinton McDonald (25), Pep Levingston (24) and even Anthony Hargrove (28) have begun to replace the Colin Coles, Junior Siaviis, and Craig Terrills.

Anthony McCoy (24) and Cameron Morrah (24) have eliminated the need for the Chris Bakers, i.e., veteran free agent signees, of the world. The churn did in fact have a specific purpose and we saw some of the fruits of that this season.

Carroll, from a year ago, "We're always dealing with trying to fit it together. I think we're much clearer on how to use our players and we also watched how we suffered a little bit when we lost some players that we depended on. So we have that in mind."

"We need to create depth that allows us to maintain the style of play with the guys and not depend too much on one guy. We depended a lot on Red [Bryant] last year and when lost him, it made a difference to us. So we have to find ways to fortify the style of play that we're calling and also guys that can back him up. We found him to be very unique in his play. So we're just growing but the basics of what we do and the foundation of what we do does not change and we're going to add to it and try to compliment better because we have more information now. That's all."

Now, we know that PCJS used free agency and the waiver wire to build this roster and get them younger, faster, bigger, and stronger. I do believe those avenues will still be open to them for a year or two more, at least, and possibly indefinitely, which would be a departure from Schneider's roots with the Ron Wolf methods. Regardless, there is no disputing the emphasis that Pete and John put on the Draft so it's interesting to hear them talk about their methodology there.

The exciting thing about this front office as they move forward is that they will, theoretically, improve in their preparation and collaboration as the scouting departments and coaching staff get more on the same page. The first year was a cluster as JS took the wheel.

He said:

"When we got here last year we didn't want to change their (the scouts) grading scale and what they had going. We had a group of new coaches that we were trying to bring up to speed as much as possible on how we were going to build our board and how the guys were going to be ranked and availability-wise especially. We wanted to make sure these guys were in the basic system they could be in and then I was kind of still on my own, Green Bay format."

While it's still way too early to really judge any of Schneider/Carroll's drafts, they did hit on Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor, and Golden Tate and Walter Thurmond have exciting potential. Anthony McCoy and Dexter Davis are still on my radar as possible contributors down the line as well. So, considering the chips stacked against them there in terms of a lack of harmony and familiarity with each other, impressive.

Going into last year's Draft, Schneider noted:

"It is much easier in terms of preparation because.... this year, we've had our own grading scale, we've added a grade. We've done a lot of great things. Everybody knows what to expect."

Again, way too early, but getting starting caliber players like K.J. Wright and Richard Sherman in the mid-rounds, when taken alone, is very impressive. James Carpenter and John Moffitt should continue to be starting caliber players. Kris Durham, Byron Maxwell, Pep Levingston, and Malcolm Smith are all still around and all saw game action in their first year.

Now, I've heard Schneider talk about that 'grade' they've added several times, and boy I wish I could tell you what it was. But he ain't spilling that.

Schneider went on to talk in more specifics on their methodology in the run up to the Draft and on the actual Draft day, when push comes to shove and they need to make decisions. This is getting longer than I'd thought it would be so I'll follow up soon with that. Stay tuned...

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