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Seahawks draft grades: Process, not results

NFL: NFL Draft Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

With my time machine in the shop after multiple (failed) attempts to reverse the ending of Super Bowl XLIX, I am unable to grade in advance the careers of all 11 men drafted this week by the Seattle Seahawks.

What is slightly less impossible, is examining a few of the goals the Seattle front office might have had going into the 2019 NFL Draft. There’s no way to know if they picked the right players. But we can tell, sort of, if they put themselves in position to do so.

Grades for six processes (not all of them completely serious) follow.

Process Goal 1: Acquire a mother lode of picks from a position of weakness

Grade: A

Yeah, going in to the draft with four picks on Monday morning, then five picks on Thursday, left John Schneider in something of a bind. The Seahawks know what they prefer — having more picks, so they can play the percentages. Like it or not, that’s their plan, and unlike some front offices, everyone is on the same page.

Can you imagine Schneider making only five selections in a single draft? I mean, realistically? Seattle has picked less than nine times only once under this front office, when they took eight guys in 2015.

To go from two firsts and three mid-rounders to four picks in the top 88 plus seven more choices while trading up in the second round and futhermore, adding a seventh to nab the collegiate leader in receiving TDs: that’s the best process one could have hoped for out of the Seahawks, and they delivered.

Process Goal 2: Take advantage of a strong class in DE/EDGE to replace lost production

Grade: C

This isn’t a D because as the Seahawks continued to pass on edge rushers (get it? get it?) round after round after round, one thing became apparent: they aren’t going to rely exclusively on the draft to make up for losing Frank Clark.

They’ve got approximately $26 million in cap space, they’ve been extensively linked to free agent Ziggy Ansah, and they’re going to test the undrafted waters too.

The problem, of course, is twofold: the 2019 class was thought to be exceptionally deep in pass rushers, and there are no guarantees in free agency. It’s somewhat of a gamble for Schneider & Co. to replace Frank Clark’s presence in marketplaces over which the team has incomplete control. The results could still pan out, but the process leaves something to be desired, just by virtue of the uncertainty.

Process Goal 3: Stock up on receivers

Grade: A

We didn’t know Process Goal 3 was quite as serious until the draft began. We’d heard the whispers of Doug Baldwin’s uncertain future and we’d theorized that Seattle would have a hard time attracting free agent pass-catchers because Pete Carroll’s idea of offensive balance is actually a 50-50 split. Well, the Baldwin situation sure looks like it sent the Seahawks into overdrive.

When you take three of any position in any one draft, it’s the most obvious indication possible that you saw a dire need there, either immediate or in a more medium term. The Seahawks decided they needed receivers, and the ones they chose:

  • represent one of the most vertical threats in the whole draft — enter D.K. Metcalf and his 21.9 yards per reception
  • scored 13 touchdowns last year and averaged 1,000 yards as an upperclassman — that would be Gary Jennings
  • led college football with 16 TD receptions — Hawaii’s John Ursua.

No fan wants to contemplate the end of the Doug Baldwin era in Seattle. Schneider and Carroll were forced to, and they responded. They took three times as many WR as RB.

What’s best about relying on homegrown receivers is that with Russell Wilson inked through the 2023 season, their development will be linked completely to his continued presence. There will be no “can this guy figure RW out after spending the last five years in Green Bay,” no “he’s gonna hate it here with how much we run compared to Detroit.”

Process Goal 4: Bring a couple new hard-nosed defensive backs into “the program,” now that the Legion of Boom is defunct

Grade: A-

Marquse Blair and Ugo Amadi are exactly the kind of guys who’d have fit in with Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. They’re hitters, punishers, bad men on the field.

Seattle actually spent significant draft capital to make room for the New Legion Fledgling of Boom. Blair is the highest secondary pick since, well, since Thomas. Amadi went 132nd, well before any of the other original LOB members.

A-minus here instead of a full A because it’s not obvious where each man fits. But probably Carroll’ll figure it out. He knows a thing or two about DBs.

Process Goal 2 + 3 + 4: Fill immediate needs

Grade: A

Sometimes I’m a bit wordy. Let’s cut to the chase.

Gonna presume Alistair speaks for a lot of people. Of course the Seahawks did things their way, which meant assigning curious values to prospects and passing on the guys who looked like perfect fits. It’s what they do.

But when you sorely need receivers, defensive backs, and linebackers —

— wait Seattle doesn’t need LB, that’s crazy, look at how good Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright still are and there’s Michael Kendricks too have you forgotten about Kendricks? oh wait those guys are almost 30 and/or under federal indictment, okay okay, carry on —

— and you come away with seven of them combined, in a draft where you had five picks to start with, you’ve addressed some fucking needs. Looks like not every single draft has to be dominated by best-player-available tactics.

Process Goal 6: Raid the Pac-12.

Grade: Nice job

The Pacific 12 Conference does not get the national respect other leagues do. Fair or not. And in fact, the Seahawks have not in the past drawn from it very heavily. I’m counting 15 Pac-12 draftees for Seattle in the last nine years, so 1.5 per year on average. A high of three, back in their first draft in 2010.

But this year, four of their 11 selections are from the “local” conference. It’s not been possible to call the Seahawks scouts homers. Well now you can, in two ways. What, you thought we’d get through this very, very serious draft-grades article without a terrible joke?

Report Card

Volume Creation: A

Pass Rush Replacement: C

Catching Receivers: A

Baby Boomers Studies: A-

Overall Need Management: A

Elective (Pac 12 Sponsorship Seminar): Pass

GPA: 3.54