Last week, Tony Pauline wrote that the Seahawks might be interested in drafting Alabama SS Mark Barron. We already talked about it a bit here, but we didn't yet get a chance to get Seahawks' GM John Schneider's take on the idea.
Schneider was on the Dave "Softy" Mahler show today and the topic of the draft came up:
Mahler: Does the signing of Barrett, John, lessen the likelihood of you guys going middle linebacker with that first pick in the draft?
Schneider: No. It doesn't.
Mahler: Why not?
Schneider: I just think that, at any position, we don't go into a draft saying that we're not going to choose a player because we have a specific player at that position. I know that may sound silly to some but that's the honest-to-god truth. We have two great young safeties and if there's a safety on the board that's a heckuva player, we'll take him. If there's another young left tackle there, we'll take him. We're not going to pass on an outstanding player because we have specific players at that position.
Mahler: You mentioned those two great safeties you have back there in Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. I don't know if you caught this or not but there was this article on the web [and] somebody suggested that the Seahawks might move Kam Chancellor to outside linebacker
Schneider: Yeah, I can understand where that comes from. I think that's draft talk. This time of year, there's a lot things you can believe and not believe. I think, if that were the situation, Kam would not be changing positions. I think that's a situation where the staff would be figuring out how to get those three players on the field.
Mahler: Alright, so Kam Chancellor is staying at safety. We can say that . . .
Schneider: Yeah, we try not to move Pro Bowl players to different positions.
Mahler: Yeah, I got it. It's a good philosophy.
So what does this mean? This FO has a history to addressing certain areas early in the draft (a LT and a safety in 2010, the OL in 2011) so I don't think we can trust Schneider when he suggests that he follows a "true BPA" approach to the draft (whether that's actually possible or not). Some have suggested that this is a double- or even triple-fake intended to show interest where there is none (or show interest with the intent that it is assumed to be false), but this FO doesn't have a track record of being that sneaky.
If we just take Schneider's words at face value, what does it mean?
(1) We're not going to move Kam to OLB.
John thinks it's a bad idea. Kam thinks it's a bad idea. Even Softy thinks it's a bad idea.
(2) 3 safeties on the field would mean a nickel base defense, right? Can we do that?
Apparently, a lot of teams already do. Per PFF's Mike Clay:
12 of the 32 (38%) NFL teams ran either the 3-4 or 4-3 defense package on, at least, 50% of their snaps in 2011
For comparison, 21 teams (66%) ran either the 4-3 or 3-4 defensive package on, at least, 50% of their snaps in 2008.
Most popular defensive packages in 2008: 4-3-4 (40%), 4-2-5 (22%), 3-4-4 (14%) ... In 2011: 4-3-4 (29%), 4-2-5 (20%), 3-4-4 (16%)
And if you're wondering where the difference went? 2-4-5 and 3-3-5 are on the rise. Move to the pass means more DBs.
More than half of teams use a base defense (4-3 or 3-4) in more than half of their snaps! And I can't imagine that all of these teams use nickel DBs as big or as strong against the run as 6'1" 210lb SS Mark Barron or 6'4" 225lb FS George Iloka. Using 2 LB-sized safeties at a time (alongside an elite FS) could add a lot of flexibility to the coverage schemes and could give us many of the benefits of the Bandit.
(3) Is this move likely?
I don't know. The original rumors suggested that drafting Barron would be a fall-back option if we couldn't trade back and grab Hightower, so it sounds like this isn't Plan A. It would also be a concentration of resources in an area of strength, which would be a departure for this FO. Another thing to consider is that they've been pretty good about keeping secrets it wants to keep (drafting Carpenter last year) and there have been many debunked rumors so far this offseason.
In the end, I don't think this move is likely, but it's certainly possible and the GM, himself, has said as much (whether you believe him or not).