Much has been made of the recent comments by John Schneider in regards to their particular draft strategy this year and drafting specific players. Greetings...Humongous wrote an article a few days ago that highlighted Schneider's comments and attempted to draw some conclusions from them based on excellent research pertaining to the use of nickel base defenses around the league.
However, I wanted to draw attention to an article written by Clare Farnsworth at the Seahawks blog that would put these comments into a greater context and allow me to draw my own conclusions about where the Seahawks are headed come April 26-28.
The central context and theme of this piece is that nothing happens in a vacuum. Just ask Ashton Kutcher's character from The Butterfly Effect. There is reason and cause for everything that happens in the Seahawks organization, and it would be unwise to ignore these factors if we hope to have any clue what these guys are up to. I can't help but notice Scheider comments about what information is used to inform and shape the draft board:
"We build our (draft) board based on our team and what we have currently. So we compare these players to our current roster, and that’s how we build our board. We don’t build our board for the league, per say."
"So while people in a mock draft might feel like we need a certain position or a specific player, it’s just really who has the highest grade – and if it fills a specific need, that’s great," Schneider said. "But it’s a grade comparable to what our team is and how we see our own players at each position.
"That’s why it’s so important to know your team and evaluate your team first and foremost."
What I find most interesting about these comments is that the Seahawks Draft Board is, what I believe to be, largely determined by what the Seahawks currently have on the roster. This seems to be a pretty striking divergence from what I assume many fans around the league believe is the primary ideology of drafting: BPA or Best Player Available. It would seem, from Schneider's comments, that the board will be directly influenced by the talent (or lack thereof) on the roster. Conceivably, players could be driven up and down the board depending on who in on the team.
The thought that immediately comes to my mind is "There doesn't seem to be a wealth of talent at the linebacker position." KJ Wright appears to be the only starter from last season that is going to make a return. (Scratch that, Leroy Hill was signed while I was writing this article.) It would seem that players like Luke Kuechly and Dont'a Hightower are going to be driven up our draft board regardless of how the rest of the league sees them by virtue of the fact that we don't have much else there at the roster.
In true Billy Mays fashion... "But wait! There's more!"
"I think we’ve put ourselves in a situation where we can go into the draft and feel comfortable about what’s coming to us and not feel like we have to scramble to make a certain move to fill a specific hole," Schneider said. "I think we’ve addressed some things that we’re always looking to improve each and every day at every position."
"I think it’s a neat draft, a very unique draft," Schneider said. "There are some very unique players up there in that first round. There’s a wide variety of players, whether it’s at the receiver position, on the offensive line, the defensive line – run-stuffers and pass-rushers. The corners are very interesting."
So I guess one can pretty much scratch what I said about the linebacker position based on what John Schneider said in that last quote, but I really wouldn't. Sure, they might feel better about some of our younger linebacker talent like Malcolm Smith and Matt McCoy (also re-signed while I was writing this article) than some of us fans do but I don't think there is any denying that we desperately need more talent at the position. He certainly doesn't mention linebacker as a position among those that have a "wide variety of players" or "unique" players in the first round.
So what exactly can we take from all of this?
First of all, if it wasn't apparent already, I don't think that we take RB or WR in the first two rounds of the draft. I don't see any players that would have that much better of a grade compared to "what our team is and how we see our own players at each position." This includes players like Trent Richardson and Michael Floyd. I believe that the Front Office would rather have the net positive impact of two players at two positions (such as linebacker and pass rusher) that we get from trading down rather than the positive impact of one player at the, say, backup runningback position if Trent Richardson were to fall to us or at the #2 WR position if Michael Floyd was there at 12.
Second, if a player like Kuechly and Hightower are sitting there at 12 and the Seahawks do not select either, do not be surprised. It should make sense that if Schneider and Carroll are not going to panic at the most important position on the football field, they certainly aren't going to panic at any either position either. I think it is very possible that there are some other linebackers in the draft that they rate almost as highly compared to the players currently on our roster as Hightower and Kuechly. As a result, they are likely to better other positions with players that would yield an even higher positive impact on our roster.
Ultimately, it always comes down to who is going to make the team better. I think I can speak for every Seahawk fan when I say "I can't wait to see what that looks like" in two weeks' time.