The Seattle Seahawks have only ever drafted one quarterback during the Pete Carroll and John Schneider regime: Russell Wilson, notoriously chosen in the third round in 2012.
That move helped close the need for more quarterback selections, of course. But as 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brady Henderson pointed out Tuesday, the scarcity of that occasion for the Seahawks front office runs against the grain of Schneider’s training as a scout and then personnel assistant with the Green Bay Packers. Despite having a Hall of Fame quarterback in Brett Favre, the Packers were constantly drafting quarterbacks to develop behind their star—seven in the 10 years Schneider worked there under Ron Wolf and then Ted Thompson, by Henderson’s count.
“I’ve always thought you need to have one in the chamber all the time and have a guy getting ready,” Schneider said at Monday’s pre-draft press conference.
In 2005, that approach paid off when Green Bay selected Aaron Rodgers in the first round even though Favre went on to play three more seasons with the club (and six more total in the NFL). Then again, Favre was already 35 years old in the 2005 offseason, so the Packers were reasonable to foresee the end coming—whereas Seattle certainly hopes Wilson remains the starter for a long time, now at age 28. Nevertheless the institutional principle remains the same, Schneider said, and he sounded somewhat wistful when Henderson highlighted the lack of draft capital spent on quarterbacks in his question.
“It just hasn’t gone that way for us,” Schneider said. “I don’t know how to explain it to you. It just hasn’t matched up from a round standpoint. ... We haven’t done that and philosophically that’s something that you want to try and do. The most important position on the field.”
This year may be an odd draft to try to accomplish finding the quarterback of the future, or even a quality backup signal-caller or someone to develop and trade for value down the road, since there is little of the enthusiasm surrounding the 2017 class at that position—especially if two or three of them get chosen early in the first round—but also because the Seahawks start the draft with only seven picks and might want to spend them on areas of greater immediate need. Schneider said in the same press conference, “We’ve talked all along about wanting to have three quarterbacks in here competing,” but quite possibly that means finding such a competitor in post-draft free agency like Seattle did last year with Trevone Boykin. However, Schneider did reportedly meet with Cal quarterback Davis Webb in an official visit earlier this month.
In Henderson’s article, he named four quarterbacks identified by colleague Brock Huard as possibilities available to the Seahawks in the middle parts of the draft: Webb, Josh Dobbs of Tennessee, Nathan Peterman of Pitt, and Iowa’s C.J. Beathard.
On the other face, Schneider might only be trying to sound intrigued by quarterbacks at this time as a bit of gamesmanship to enhance the demand for late first round picks like Seattle’s own 26th selection: “When you’re picking where we’re picking down there, you always have to be aware of what’s happening at the top,” Schneider said. “We have to know what those teams are thinking at the top of the second round or the bottom of the first round.”
We've talked about it on the podcast. It makes sense to snag a QB at the bottom of the 1st to get the 5th-year option for developmental QB https://t.co/YjVMiVQFdu— Bucky Brooks (@BuckyBrooks) April 26, 2017
The late first round has an added value compared to early second round picks because it grants the drafting team an extra fifth-year option at the rookie scale, which could have significant value both in this age of monster second contracts for starting quarterbacks and because its adds more control for a team willing to develop a project like Dobbs or Webb for a few years. Although that factoring makes some sense if there’s a talent they really like at that spot to stash behind Wilson (even with some wiggle room should Schneider earlier trade somewhere between 26 and 32), I don’t expect the Seahawks to take a quarterback so high—but it might be enticing for another squad trying to jump into that range like the Minnesota Vikings did to pick Teddy Bridgewater in 2014. (Seattle also traded its selection last year for the Denver Broncos to move up and get Paxton Lynch, but it wasn’t quite the same dynamic since Denver would have still retained its option with the 31st pick.)
Another problem with the Seahawks spending a draft pick—any draft pick—on a quarterback is how it doesn’t really shore up the challenge that became apparent last year, in case Wilson goes down with another injury. Although there are questions surrounding Boykin going into his second year, both concerning his readiness on the field and his legal obstacles in Texas, replacing him with another rookie only puts Seattle back at the vulnerable spot it was in 2016: with an unproven, probably unprepared player one ligament away from undermining the Seahawks postseason hopes.
Schneider’s record with the Seahawks shows he’s not going to reach on a prospect just to stay true to his quarterback-hungry philosophy, but if the circumstances line up don’t be surprised if Seattle ends up taking a some signal-caller perhaps higher than you expect them to.