There is no part of the Seattle Seahawks’ roster building philosophy that’s become more famous than Pete Carroll and John Schneider’s love of length at the cornerback position. Over nine drafts in Seattle, Carroll and Schneider have drafted nine cornerbacks, and all nine have measured in with arms 32” or longer.
Early in Carroll and Schneider’s regime, their desire for long, physical cornerbacks allowed them to have the market to themselves. Within a few seasons, that all but ended, with the most famous example of teams attempting to copy the Seahawks’ model being the Saints selection of Stanley Jean-Baptiste in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Even as prospects in their mold have flamed out elsewhere, Seattle’s remained firm on targeting their type. However, in 2019, that could come to an end should a current member of their secondary depart in free agency.
In two seasons with the Seahawks, Justin Coleman has been occasionally great and often good. When free agency begins next week, it’s likely he’ll receive a sizable contract, whether it’s in Seattle or elsewhere. Several slot corners have received big paydays recently and Coleman should be (one of the) next in line. If Coleman does depart from the Seahawks and Seattle chooses to replace him via the draft, it could very well end the streak of cornerbacks drafted with 32-plus inch arms.
Two of the more recent players to play the slot corner position for the Seahawks, Coleman and Marcus Burley, both had 31 1/2” arms. The other, Jeremy Lane, had 32” arms, but began his career as an outside cornerback. On Twitter recently, Jim Nagy, a former scout in Seattle and the current Executive Director of the Senior Bowl, said if the Seahawks did have a cornerback on their board with arms shorter than 32”, it was to play inside.
It was talked about less than you think in meetings. But, as a scout, you were always cognizant of the prototype in the fall when you graded players so there usually weren’t too many on the board that didn’t have good length. If they were on the board it was as a nickel.— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) February 28, 2019
For a few years now, it’s been theorized that Seattle would go below their 32” arm length threshold in the draft, but only for a slot corner. Nagy’s tweet seems to confirm that’s the case. Though the arm length requirement would drop, the size and athletic thresholds would likely remain. Here are five slot cornerbacks the Seahawks could target in the draft, should they need to replace Coleman.
For almost the entirety of the Legion of Boom era and onward, the nickel corner spot in Seattle has never been as settled as the outside cornerbacks. In 2017 and ‘18, as the outside spots were being transitioned and now solidified for the future with Shaquill Griffin and Tre Flowers, Coleman provided stability and big play ability inside. Retaining Coleman and having continuity in the secondary would be wise, but if the Seahawks are forced to look to the draft for a slot corner, don’t be surprised if that player has arms shorter than 32”.