John Schneider was on KJR 950's Mitch in the Morning yesterday with Mitch Levy and had some very interesting things to say about the undrafted free agents stuck in limbo out there at the moment. I've been profiling some potential targets the Hawks could have on their radar in rookie free agency the last few days and things could get really interesting as soon as the lockout is lifted. The Hawks will presumably have a great deal of room on their 80 man offseason roster with the myriad of free agents from last season that are currently unsigned. Just perusing their roster, I count something like 24 or 25 free agents that are still unsigned at this point so there are certainly some positions to fill. The Hawks have spoken a lot of getting younger and faster everywhere and after the roster churn from last season I wouldn't be surprised to see a lot of our current free agents be allowed to walk going into 2011.
Levy asked him whether he had a shopping list for the offseason, so to speak, and here's how Schneider responded:
Our first order of business is rookie free agency. We're really excited for that to take place. You know, we had some guys on our draft board that are rookie free agents, so we feel like we can address some pretty cool spots there. So, as soon as they turn the lights on with that, we're going to hit that running very hard.
Obviously, we're going to address our QB situation, and we need to address our defensive line in a big way. So, you can't fix everything in one draft. You gotta put together, two, three of these things and then you know, start supplementing and have a real nice, young core of you know, young, tough, smart, competitive, fast guys. Also, this is going to be something where we're able to take a chance here and there on guys, like you were talking about (with the decision to not draft Jimmy Smith) that may have some character issues and that sort of thing and that's when you can really start hitting on some cool stuff.
We really wanted to establish our front offensively, we need to work on our defensive line, we'll probably have to do that through rookie free agency, unrestricted free agency when it begins, and we're always aggressive looking at trades, speaking with people regarding the availability of their players, so yeah.
Mitch Levy followed up with a question about addressing the cornerback position through unrestricted free agency (as opposed to just UDFAs - hinting at Jonathan Joseph, Antonio Cromartie, or Nnamdi Asomugha), and pried to see if this would be something is that is a high priority or not. Schneider responded:
We drafted two big, young guys that we're really excited about that are highly competitive guys that have great ball skills. They're both physical players. And there are some guys that , again, are rookie free agents that we're excited about at the corner position, and so we'd like to get those guys rolling in here too. And, there's a safety out there that we're really excited about as a rookie free agent, and another linebacker. I mean there's a whole group. There's probably a group of like, 6 to 8 guys that we had as draftable players that are hopefully going to be Seattle Seahawks as rookie free agents. One of those would be a quarterback as well, and then you know with our quarterback position going in, we had a plan A, a plan B, a plan C and we have a plan D.
Overall a really interesting interview and it piques my interest as to who, as Schneider mentioned, the Hawks had on their draft board that ultimately went undrafted. I'll continue to highlight some of the more well known UDFAs that I see as a potential fit and I'll also include a piece highlighting some of thehighest rated players still unsigned according to several draft experts.