The ancient proverb goes something like this: “If you think you know what the Seahawks are gonna do in the first round of the draft, think again. Then stop thinking and put away your brain, because why are you even trying. Nitwit.”
It’s not a well-known saying. More commonly, people will say, of John Schneider & Co. on draft day, “Expect the unexpected.”
There’s a workaround, however. All we to have to do is think of Schneider’s drafting career as a giant checklist. What has he done so far on Day 1? Check. Check. Re-check. What hasn't he done yet? Look for that next.
The JS first-round checklist of “did that already” is easy enough to make.
- Build the O-Line. 2010, 2011, 2016. Okung, Carpenter, Ifedi.
- Grab maximum talent for a shallow roster. 2010. Okung, Thomas.
- BPA, no frills. 2010, 2011. See above.
- Trade down. 2012, 2014, 2016. Irvin, Richardson in the 2nd after two trades back, Ifedi.
- Take the freak athlete earlier than anyone thought. 2012. Irvin again.
- Screw the pick and flip it for a playmaking vet. 2013, 2015. Harvin, Graham.
You might say, after seven years of data, that John Schneider has a type. He likes to trade down, or he likes to use the valuable asset to pry away a playmaker from a team desperate to unload him.
So how might he break out of that now-predictable pattern this year? I see four ways he and his staff can still give us that surprise result we’ve somehow come to expect.
1. Stay put at 1.26
In the Russell Wilson era, that’s not been the MO of this FO.
They were content to snag Russell Okung in 2010 and James Carpenter in 2011, at their appointed time of the first round, as they assembled road-grading building blocks for the offensive line. Since then, it’s been nothing but hanky-panky from John Schneider and the Schneiderettes. Trade down, trade away, rinse, lather, repeat.
So why might staying put suddenly be so attractive? Because it’s possible they love Kevin King or Adoree’ Jackson and anticipate they’ll both go between 24 and 32, so at least at 26 you get one of them.
And they haven’t added many first-rounders recently, passing in 2013, 2014 and 2015, but you know that fifth year is really attractive when you’re thinking ahead to the 2021 and 2022 cap. Which they totally are. (More on that later.)
Plus consider that first-round defensive ends, especially, are precious talents. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril each turn 30 this off-season. While Frank Clark and Cassius Marsh are young, they’re not a complete rotation. Also, Schneider’s never selected a true pass rusher with his first pick. That’s reason enough there.
Finally, the Hawks might stay put if they elect to go BPA. And with a high number of uncertainties for 2018 — everywhere on the roster really, except quarterback and linebacker and even then — the option to take a guy without regard to position is a very real one.
Forget 2017 exists and look ahead to 2018 with me. Who’s almost certainly on the Week 1 roster?
Offense: Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin;
Defense: Michael Bennett, Earl Thomas, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright.
I’m thinking that’s it. And you could present a halfway decent case for any of those defenders to be either on the downside of their career, or outright gone by then. I wouldn’t buy it, but you could present it without getting laughed off the site.
Then — would you give Richard Sherman or Jimmy Graham more than a 90 percent chance to open 2018 as Seahawks? I wouldn’t. How about Justin Britt, Germain Ifedi, Avril? How about, gulp, Kam Chancellor? Any of the running backs or leftover receivers? Yeah, right. There are precious few sure things left about the 2018 Hawks.
Right, we get it. All those names are likely to still wear college navy in a couple years. I think. But not all will return. And if you find a stud in 2017, no matter where he plays, that makes the decision to let someone leave a little easier. Well, maybe not easier. More clear, at least.
2. Be redundant.
The 2013 Christine Michael pick is the first example of pure redundancy that many Seattle fans will point to. Travel with me to April 2013. We’re about to dance around the best season of football, ever.
Marshawn Lynch is still in his Saints-stiff-arming, Dockett-decapitating prime. Robert Turbin is at the very least a capable backup. Russell Wilson does run the ball, as you’ve noticed. Plus — you just acquired Percy Harvin as a theoretical home run threat from multiple points on the field. (To be fair to Percy, he was an actual home run threat every time he touched the ball. It was just his availability that was theoretical.)
“run through a m*therfucker’s face”
“I am Optionman”
“y u no takl me”
(Side note: bubble screens!)
So back to the 2013 plot. Absent a first-rounder, at picking at the bottom of the second already, the Hawks opt for an obscure running back who isn’t likely to supplant the starter or even win the backup job, whose main skill is the elusiveness for which you just paid out both nostrils.
Schneider went redundant then; he could do it again, but sooner.
Examples of possible 2017 “wait we have that already” first-round picks might be at:
- RB. There are many of these on the roster already. Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls are possibly starter-level talents. CJ Prosise too.
- TE. Jimmy Graham is not anywhere near done and you just re-signed Luke Willson for cheap.
- OL. The depth chart is fuller, and better than it was entering the 2016 season. Some of you will protest that’s very Fant praise. But it’s true. You’d expect reasonable growth from Germain Ifedi, Mark Glowinski and Justin Britt, coupled with better tackle play from whoever wins the starting jobs. Oday Aboushi is competent, according to most watchers of tape.
- LB. Wagner and Wright return at the summit of their powers. Twelve other guys are already competing for the third ‘backer spot, such as it is.
- FS. Earl Thomas is still Earl Thomas and the Brad McDougald pickup was insurance.
I’m not saying that the inexplicable redundant selection will happen this year. Just that it’s on Schneider’s checklist.
3. Move up.
You, probably: “Whoa. Whoa whoa whoa. Nelly: whoa. We don’t have a fourth or fifth. Trading up costs us assets we don’t have this time. And everyone keeps saying this draft is deeper than usual.”
There are reasons. Remember: Schneider’s trying to throw us for a loop. How can he do that if he behaves exactly as you’d anticipate?
Imagine the Hawks have their eye on some DB’s. Not hard to do in their situation. There are many corners rated as first-rounders. Seattle’s depth is exceedingly untested. Jeremy Lane didn’t knock the socks off anyone in 2016. Something’s up with Sherman, maybe? (Actually the Sherm stuff is pure off-season clickbait, but what if it isn’t, but it is, but what if it isn’t.)
Now imagine the first round features a run on corners. Every other pick they’re flying off the board. 10, 12, 14, 16, poof. By 20, four of their top five CB’s on their board have vanished. Marshon Lattimore to the Saints, Cordrea Tankersley to the Arianzona Cardinals. Marlon Humphrey and Tre’Davious White - gone too. Kevin King and Chidobe Awuzie are not long for the draft world.
JS isn’t necessarily sweating, but he’s now in a situation where he might not get any of his top five DB’s at 26. Trading back means missing out on all five and taking the draft in another direction altogether.
The Hawks haven’t picked above 24 since 2012. At some point JS is going to want some of that elite athleticism that lives in the teens... right?
You’re probably giving up at least your native third (3.90) to move up a few spots, which means I’d then expect them to be their usual hyperactive selves on day 2, moving out of 2.58 or turning one of their third-round comps into two later picks.
If you hit on that corner, or whoever because BPA, five years of control is again in play, exactly when you need it the most. To expand on the cap planning I teased up-post, within a couple years, there are talent bills coming due. You’re going to need to pay Frank Clark, a couple linemen, RW again, the new WR and the star RB — whoever he is. Five years of control makes cap space. Especially when you’re not sure the cap will keep rising.
4. Stock up for 2018.
But everyone says the 2017 class is overflowing with talent at multiple positions. Get it while you can!
Or: trade back out of the first round (you already know you want to, Johnny) to pick up another second next year and something mid-roundy this year. Then trade two of your ‘17 thirds for ‘18 seconds.
Now you have four 2nd-rounders to play with in 2018. And five picks in the top 64.
Other reasons you might consider the stockpile strategy for next April:
- The conventional wisdom isn’t always right for everyone. Maybe your scouting department likes a ton of juniors and sophomores down the road more than this draft class.
- Comp picks are drying up. You just got two thirds for Okung and Irvin but you can’t count on a high return next year.
- Needs are not immediate. Restocked rooms include: RB, LB, S, OL. You can run with what you have there for 2017, already.
- Desperate teams exist. Some GM’s are willing to give you more 2018 value for immediate gratification. Look, other teams can be desperate. You scout them well; you know who they are and who needs to hit in 2017 because of poor job security or a closing window. Schneider often knows what other teams are going to do before they do it themselves. How else do you explain the balls to wait for Russell Wilson?
- Skill positions are set for 2017 but not so much thereafter.
- You already know you’re getting a stud defensive back whenever you pick, because there are so many. No incentive to hurry too much. And if you’re not in urgent mode, why not leverage that for future assets?
5. Something else entirely
Of course a total and complete surprise not mentioned above is possible. Have you met the Seattle Seahawks? There’s an ancient proverb...