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Hawks accumulate picks, but was it out of necessity, circumstance or design?

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Spoiler: All three is a good answer

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Before the Frank Clark trade earlier this week, the Seattle Seahawks were NFL Draft beggars, owners of just four selections this year, a regular slate next year, and a few comp picks.

After two trades back (of course) in the 2019 draft’s first round, and after grabbing L.J. Collier at the end of the night, John Schneider and his team are still sitting on these choices:

  • a 2, 3, 4, 4, 4, 4, 5, 5 this year
  • a 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 6, 6, 7 next year.

That’s 20 more picks in two drafts. The distribution this year — few along the edges and a ton of selections in the middle rounds — tells me one of three things.

A) John Schneider evaluated the 2019 draft as mid-round heavy and did his most to maximize picks where he felt the value was greatest.

B) Circumstances somewhat outside the Seahawks’ control meant that players they wanted dropped off the board at exactly the wrong time, precipitating trades back out of disappointment as much as design.

C) They needed picks, and plenty of them, for the purpose of cheap labor while they pay maximum salaries to their QB and MLB, so they did everything they could to turn a deficiency into a surplus, a liability into an asset. Or 21 assets, to be more precise.

Of course, it’s possible to synthesize A), B) and C) into co-factors. Quite likely the Seahawks missed out on one or more targets (DL Henry Tillery? WR N’Keal Harry? EDGE Montez Sweat?) by flipping 1.21 into 1.30 and a pile of mid-rounders. Quite possibly one or more of those players will develop into Pro Bowlers, or better. Quite possibly the Los Angeles Chargers and their DC Gus Bradley sniped Derwin James from the Seahawks last year and then Tillery this year, and both will go on to have exceptional careers, and fans will lament the missed opportunities and the vagaries of the draft. Quite possibly the Seattle front office outsmarted itself more than anyone else.

I’m not alone in thinking this possible.

But the end result is that from a position of indisputable weakness, the Seahawks emerged from round one of the NFL Draft in a position of unusual strength. If there’s a player anytime in Round 3 that Schneider needs, he has the ammunition to swing a trade. Same for Round 4. Remember how the Seahawks spent four picks to move up 26 spots in the third round and nab Tyler Lockett in 2015? The same type of move is now possible and it wouldn’t leave Seattle completely broke thereafter.

Anyone between 70 and 132 is fair game as the draft rolls along. It’s not hard to move up a dozen spots when you have fourth-rounders galore. It’s especially not hard to move up or down several spots in the fourth, when the value curve begins to flatten considerably. The Jimmy Johnson draft chart takes some flak these days, but the difference between each second-round pick is about ten points, while the difference between each fourth-rounder is about two points.

And if, just if, the fourth round is loaded with talent, and Schneider feels it, and he knows who’s going to be available when, and if, just if, Seattle does make all four of its picks between 114 and 132, the chances of hitting on your future favorite player just got a lot better.

It’s easy to lament on what could have been, but maybe I’m overstating things when I say

The Seahawks have completed their spring ritual of teasing their fans with the prospect of a mid-first-rounder, only to opt for quantity over luxury. Now the real draft begins, with Carroll and Schneider’s wallets overflowing.