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Mock Draft Primer: 3 trends tell us what John Schneider will do with first Seahawks pick

Philadelphia Eagles v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

There are 3 trends to John Schneider’s drafting that will help you sniff out the reasonable mocks from the ludicrous. History tells us what the Seattle Seahawks’ general manager will do with his first pick. The 47-year-old, GM in the Pacific Northwest for nine years, has clear tendencies when Seattle gets on the clock for their first selection. Let’s look at what he’s done previously:

  • 2010: Russell Okung, Left Tackle, Round 1 Pick 6
  • 2011: James Carpenter, Left Guard, Round 1 Pick 25
  • 2012: Bruce Irvin, EDGE/Strongside Linebacker, Round 1 Pick 15
  • 2013: Christine Michael, Running Back, Round 2 Pick 30 (Traded 1st, 7th and a 2014 3rd for Percy Harvin)
  • 2014: Paul Richardson, Wide Receiver, Round 2 Pick 13
  • 2015: Frank Clark, EDGE, Round 2 Pick 31 (Traded 1st and Max Unger for Jimmy Graham and a 4th)
  • 2016: Germain Ifedi, Right Tackle, Round 1 Pick 31
  • 2017: Malik McDowell, Inside-out/3-tech Defensive Tackle, Round 2 Pick 3
  • 2018: Rashaad Penny, Running Back, Round 1 Pick 27

Trend #1: Swing for the fences

Like when Schneider has traded the Seahawks’ first selection—for Harvin and Graham—he is always looking to get a player whose ceiling is cathedral-high. This can lead to shock selections and perceived reaches. (*Cough* I thought Rashaad Penny would be a nice pick in the third round *cough*.)

Seattle seemed overly reactive in their pick of Penny, after a banged up running back room proved unreliable the previous season behind a woeful offensive line. Yet the shock factor of Schneider can’t be underestimated. We’ve reached a stage where it would be unexpected for the team to take a player who draftniks had projected. It ties in with Schneider’s “swing for the fences” approach.

This year everyone expects Schneider to go EDGE with his first pick. After all, it’s the Seahawks’ biggest need. However, having looked in detail at the EDGE class (more on this soon), all the upper tier pass rushers are likely to have gone by Seattle’s pick.

Perhaps, then, Schneider will use his first pick on a surprise position; for instance, the loaded tight end class. Will Dissly is coming back from a brutal patellar tendon injury and his absence last year caused the desperate situation of converting tackle George Fant. This limited the available pass concepts. One 2019 draft option would be Alabama’s productive TE Irv Smith Jr. An awesomely dominant run-blocker, Smith Jr. can execute every aspect required of an NFL tight end with good quickness, burst and YAC.

Schneider, in stark contrast to the safe picks of predecessor Tim Ruskell, tries to bludgeon the cover off the metaphorical baseball. Every. Single. Time. That will involve him taking risks on players. In the cases of Bruce Irvin and Frank Clark, that worked a treat. On the other hand, Percy Harvin became a detrimental locker room presence after entering a wide receiver room seemingly envious of his big money arrival. Christine Michael never seemed to grasp the football IQ side of playing in the pros. Malik McDowell was a tragic case.

Trend #2: Only the athletically gifted

Linked to the above, Schneider will never take an average athlete, or even a good one, with his first pick. Schneider aims for one of the most athletically gifted prospects left on the board. His entire draft strategy puts a heavy emphasis on athletic ability, but it’s especially true with his first pick.

Again, Harvin and Graham were crazily gifted athletes. Not one of Schneider’s first picks has been anything but a stud athletic profile for their respective positions. The strategy has seen Schneider take a gamble on other warning signs. C-Mike—who murdered the NFL combine—had tape with issues that became major inhibitors to his NFL talent.

On the flip side, Clark was very unrefined as an EDGE. He was anything but the finished article, yet the pass rusher has polished his skills each year and developed into one of the league’s best quarterback hunters. Diamonds in the rough can become the most valuable of gems.

Trend #3: Trade down if picking late

This is somewhat frustrating on draft day—at least it was before it became the obvious, expected, norm from Schneider. It’s his modus operandi when picking late. Still, most of you reading this aren’t watching from abroad (like me). For foreign fans, it’s tough staying up until 4am to hear Rodger Goodell announce the Seattle Seahawks have traded their first-round selection. Those watching overseas must then get up in around 4 hours’ time to get to Friday’s work.

At least when Schneider trades down into the second round the booing reserved for Goodell’s appearance at the podium isn’t so vitriolic. We can’t have a Seahawks pick booed! Or maybe we can, it’s rather amusing seeing the Commish be the pantomime villain. That’s if Goodell decides to walk up, as on Day 2 it’s sometimes left to a franchise legend.

Trading down this year is a necessity. Seattle only has four draft picks (1, 3, 4 and 5). They need more. Desperately. I looked at five teams Schneider can exploit in trade down scenarios here. This is what the maneuvering has got the Seahawks previously:

  • 2018: 1.18 and 7.248 to Green Bay (Jaire Alexander) for 1.27 (Penny), 3.76 (traded down three more picks with Pittsburgh (got Alex McGough in seventh) for Rasheem Green) and 6.186 (Jacob Martin)
  • 2017: 1.26 to Atlanta (Takkarist McKinley) for 1.31, 3.95 (Delano Hill) and 7.249 (Chris Carson). 1.31 to San Francisco for 2.34 (moved down one with Jacksonville (got Mike Tyson in sixth) for McDowell) and 4.111 (Tedric Thompson)
  • 2016: 1.26 to Denver (Paxton Lynch) for 1.31 (Ifedi) and 3.94 (Nick Vannett)
  • 2014: 1.32 to Minnesota (Teddy Bridgewater) for 2.40 (Richardson) and 4.108 (Cassius Marsh) Only four of the top 17 picks have failed to make the pro-bowl from this draft and the rest of it was meh, a tough one to pick 32.
  • 2013: 2.56 to Baltimore (Arthur Brown) for 2.62 (Michael), 5.165 and 6.199 (both traded to Detroit to move up in 5th for Jesse Williams)
  • 2012: 1.12 to Philadelphia (Fletcher Cox) for 1.15 (Irvin), 4.114 (Jaye Howard) and 6.172 (Jeremy Lane)

Mock draft primed

So, when you read the countless mocks that accompany #DRAFTSZN, it’s fair to question ones that don’t have Seattle following Schneider’s three first pick trends. Consider yourself mock draft primed. Like well-balanced acidity is needed to cut through the richness of fatty foods, you now have the knowledge to slice through the codswallop.

Schneider’s aiming for the high ceiling players may lead to him taking a player like Mississippi State’s Jeffrey Simmons. Simmons is a top-five player based on his sudden, penetrating talent from 3-technique. Yet Simmons suffered a torn ACL training for the combine. Furthermore, he punched a woman in 2016 who was fighting with his sister.

NCAA sack record-holder Jaylon Ferguson is not the type of player the Seahawks have previously taken—he lacks burst and explosion. Nor is the high effort but limited flexibility of Michigan EDGE Chase Winovich. The fast approaching NFL combine testing will separate the more athletically gifted from the less. We will then get a better idea of who will be in range for Schneider to fall in love with.

Seattle staying at #21 would also be a bizarre contradiction to Schneider’s patterns. It would have to be for a player they absolutely adore. The Seahawks, if they really like a player, could trade up to get them. They showed that aggression when they gave up 4 picks to move up and select Tyler Lockett in the 3rd round (3, 4, 5 and 6). Yet, in this time of need, Seattle are going to move down multiple times, end up with 6-7 picks and draft their first player in the late 1st to early 2nd range.

Rob Staton over at Seahawksdraftblog had the right idea in his latest mock, giving the Seahawks D.K. Metcalf. Metcalf’s potential makes him my wide receiver #1 in this draft (yes, before that picture), but his lack of production and season-ending neck injury could see him remain on the board by the time Seattle still pick. He’s 6ft 4, 230lbs, shredded and dynamic—his testing alone probably sees him go way earlier, but Rob’s thought process was sound.

So: when next reading a mock draft or seeing top-50 players described as the “perfect” fit for the Seahawks, consider Schneider’s previous approaches to drafts as Seattle’s general manager. If you keep his three trends in mind, you can’t go wrong.