By now anyone following the draft closely knows a few basic things about the Seahawks' position.
- They hold 11 picks, more than any other team.
- Their first pick is late: No. 63 overall. Everyone else will have picked at least once by then.
- The bulk of their selections takes place on Day 3. Three 4ths, two 5ths, three 6ths, one 7th.
- They are stacked with All-Pro-level talent, or actual All-Pros, in both backfields, offensive and defensive; but they are thought to need reinforcements and depth everywhere else.
- Their unpredictability makes guessing their draft moves an exercise first in arrogance, then humility, if you're being honest with yourself. Especially the humility part.
Well, there's a way for the Hawks to improve their late-round position in the first three bullet points, while still addressing depth and continuing to follow their unique methodical madness. It's by re-investing this 2015 stash in the 2016 draft instead. I call it the "Stockpile Strategy."
Why would the Hawks go that route?
Glad you asked. The answer assails us in five parts.
(Yes, the answer has five sections, after all, #ThisIsFieldGulls.)
1. Some of Seattle's immediate-looking needs might be overstated.
There's already a class of "redshirt" Hawks and IR returners set to compete this summer for starting jobs at areas of need. In some cases, adding draft picks to that mix could be considered overkill.
Take a glance at this list of recent draftees:
Jesse Williams, Jordan Hill, Greg Scruggs, Cassius Marsh
Now these guys too:
Paul Richardson, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Derrick Coleman
The first list -- all defensive linemen with promise. The second -- three other guys who ended the season injured but are starter-level Seahawks. All seven of those guys could star on the 2015 team. All are under the age of 26.
There's young talent already waiting to be added to this roster, independent of next week's Christmas presents. Williams is frankly the biggest question mark. But Scruggs and Marsh both made the 2014 team and joined the DL rotation. Hill recorded five sacks last season. KPL looked set to take over for whichever linebacker leaves. Paul Richardson caught 29 passes, including a touchdown, and started to develop a rapport with Russell Wilson.
These seven dudes are not unknown college players who might maybe possibly be able to make the leap to the pros. They're actually a whole draft's worth of proven talent that finished the season on IR. Except that you already know they can play.
Oh, and let's not forget four more guys recovering from injury:
Jeremy Lane, Eric Pinkins, Anthony McCoy, D'Anthony Smith
Yes, the Hawks have an immediate need for offensive linemen. Forty percent of your 2014 starting line walked out the door this offseason. Lemuel Jeanpierre or Patrick Lewis is your current center. If there's a surprise pre-draft pick-up game on Wednesday at a Chicago playground, Alvin Bailey is your left guard and also your backup to Russell Okung, whose health history shall be described as "imperfect." Sure, you've got Garry Gilliam, whose main 2014 contribution was
which was admittedly the awesomest. But GG didn't exactly spend the year opening up holes for Marshawn.
So maybe you invest four picks on the OL this week. You can still do that and execute the stockpile strategy. Read on.
2. It's quite possible, even probable, that PCJS expect next year's draft to be deeper, especially at positions of need.
There's quite a bit of chatter nationally about how this draft is deep in the middle rounds but short on top-level talent. We don't really know whether that's true until 2019 rolls around, and sometimes the conventional wisdom turns out to be conventional dumbassery. But the consensus strongly suggests that moving up in the draft would be generally more attractive a year from now instead of now.
That's partially why I think it more likely that Pete and John actually trade back out of the second round on Friday. Forfeiting 16 spots in the draft order, just half a round, is worth 81 points on the Jimmy Johnson trade value chart*, or as much as a mid-fourth rounder right away.
That might not sound like much initially. But General Managers have also been quite willing in the past to pay a premium for immediate picks -- think of them putting their purchase of draft position on a credit card. Again, moving back 16 spots on Friday is worth about a fourth-rounder. But based on history, a desperate GM might offer a third-rounder next year to move up that much right away. And here's where the stockpiling can begin.
(* I realize the JJ value chart is simply a guide and not draft day gospel. I realize GM's deviate from it all the time. But it's an excellent starting point.)
3. Upgrades such as these are not fantasytalk. Other successful teams have already provided a blueprint.
Yes, I'm thinking of the Patriots. The perennial late-pickers are known for moving back under Belichick's reign. Sometimes with stupendous results.
In 2013, the Patriots shipped off their first-rounder to the Vikings -- in exchange for Minny's 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 7th pick. Granted, the Vikings were already flush with three extra picks bestowed on them by some loser team, in an obscure trade for Percy Harvin. Regardless, the principle is confirmed: if you find the right partner, you can get what you want.
In 2010, New England swapped a third-rounder for Carolina's future second-round selection -- which sounds reasonable enough on its face, if a bit steep for the Panthers. As it turned out, NE's pick that year was the 89th and Carolina's turned out later to be the 33rd. That was a one-for-one swap. 89 for 33. Upgrades are there for the taking, if the taker is patient enough.
(If you want to read more, here's a post at footballoutsiders.com ranking teams and GM's by draft value acquired since 1997. Yes, the conclusion is exactly what you'd expect based on the last few paragraphs.
Should the urge strike, you can test all this for yourself. Advanced Football Analytics runs a draft trade evaluation tool -- called the Draft Trade Evaluator -- that allows you to calculate how much you could get immediately, or in future drafts, for a specific pick. Here's a link to it, knock yourself out and play around with the possibilities. After you enter the Field Gulls Armchair GM Challenge of course.)
4. In turn, moving up would be way easier next year than this year, because the improved assets would be so so shiny
Let's say the Hawks upgrade three times from 2015 to 2016 and are armed with, for example:
- Native picks 32, 64 and 96
- Pick 77 (obtained from Cle for trading back 15 spots in 2015 draft)
- Pick 102 (obtained from Chi in return for a 2015 fifth and seventh)
- Plus a Byron Maxwell comp at 98.
With five tradeable picks in or around the top 100 next year, Schneider suddenly owns 1273 JJ points, and could easily elect to jump into the middle of the first round, a place the Hawks haven't sniffed since the 2012 draft. (You remember that draft, which went pretty well, yes.)
What does 1273 points buy you? Well, the twelfth pick is "worth" 1200 points. At No. 12 overall, you can get yourself a franchise LT, or a red-flag-less wide receiver, or if need be, a Bobby Wagner replacement in that area of the draft. You can't consistently count on finding those guys at the end of the second round.
Here's where if you're Seattle, it gets exciting/enticing: you can afford to turn three of your top four picks into one, because you still have the Maxwell comp at 98 and the Chicago fourth at 102. Even after trading up, you'd still end up picking four times in the top 100.
Below is how a sample 2016-17 Stockpile Scenario works, graphically.
|2015 Pick||Used by Seattle?||Gained|
|63||Yes, moved back to 77||Player & Browns' 2016 third|
|130||Yes, moved back to 152||Player & Texans' 2016 sixth|
|167||No, traded to Bears||Bears' 2016 fourth-rounder|
|181||No, traded to Falcons||Falcons' 2016 fifth-rounder|
|248||No, traded to Bears||Packaged with 167|
In the scenario above, the Hawks still get to make eight picks. Enough to replenish the depth on the offensive line and pick up some sparqy athletes.
2016 then looks like this:
|2016 Picks||How obtained|
|98 (comp)||Byron Maxwell rocks|
|170ish (comp)||James Carpenter parting gift|
|185ish||From Jets (Harvin)|
|240ish (comp)||O'Brien Schofield parting gift|
At which point you're rich. Fifteen selections. For a second straight year, you enter the draft with the most assets.
And because stockpiling is flexible, instead of moving up, 2016 Schneider-Carroll could just sit there and take five of the top 100 guys in the land, or nine of the top 150, to replace aging stars. Or re-invest in 2017, in case you wanted to win forever or something.
5. Speaking of aging stars, the offseason of 2016 is when a few significant contributors celebrate ominous birthdays.
Welcome to next February. After you get home from the parade and clean confetti out of your Beast Mode hoodie and stray Skittles out of your hair, you log on to pro-football-reference and find that:
Marshawn Lynch and Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril are, or are turning, 30.
Super Bowl 50 MVP Jimmy Graham, an actual Seahawk, is staring at 30.
Kam Chancellor has just completed six seasons of sacrificing his body. He's about to hit 28. So's Richard Sherman. What's significant about 28? Excluding specialists, only 11 Seahawks on the current 78-man roster right now are 29 or older. There's a cliff and PCJS are not afraid to use it.
I'm going to give Sherman more longevity, because it's my post dammit, but that still leaves the Hawks with the task of replacing the other five stars (Lynch, Bennett, Avril, Graham, Chancellor) in the next three drafts. They'll want to get about two monstrous hits a year to make that happen. For that, they're going to need quality and quantity. The 2014 mix of low-rounders and underwhelming comp picks isn't going to do it, probably.
It's time to start stockpiling, I think.