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What to expect when the Seahawks are expecting

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San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

With the 2020 NFL Draft quickly approaching, the Seattle Seahawks are set to address multiple team needs with the seven picks they currently hold. While it’s likely that John Schneider and Pete Carroll will trade down in the draft and acquire more picks, probably winding up with nine or ten new players on the roster, that doesn’t mean every player will be a contributor.

The pair certainly has a reputation for finding Day 3 gems like Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, K.J. Wright, J.R. Sweezy and Chris Carson, but the question is just how difficult is it to find impact players later on? To answer that, here are how the career AV distributions look across the three days of the draft.

That sample comes from the 31 years of drafts of 1976 through 2006, which is a period of time for which the overwhelming majority of players have already completed their careers. During the 2019 season there were just 29 players drafted in 2006 or earlier still active, making the sample largely complete in terms of its distribution.

In any case, that table clearly shows how much more likely players taken on Day 1 are to contribute throughout their careers. That said, AV is a relative unknown for most fans so the meaning behind the numbers in the distributions are likely largely meaningless. Thus, to put some meaning behind the categories, here is a sampling of Seahawks players past and present and where they would fall in terms of career AV.

  • AV < 10: Ethan Pocic, Justin Senior, C.J. Prosise, Joey Hunt
  • 10 <= AV < 20: Luke Willson, Robert Turbin, Jeremy Lane, Cassius Marsh, Aaron Curry
  • 20 <= AV < 30: Byron Maxwell, Jarran Reed, Mo Morris, Floyd Womack
  • 30 <= AV < 40: Rocky Bernard, Sean Locklear, Chris Spencer, Red Bryant, Malcolm Smith, Justin Britt, Tyler Lockett
  • 40 <= AV < 50: Bruce Irvin, J.R. Sweezy, James Carpenter, Kam Chancellor, Lofa Tatupu
  • 50 <= AV < 60: Marcus Trufant, Darrell Jackson, Russell Okung
  • 60 <= AV < 70: K.J. Wright, Brandon Mebane, Max Unger, John L. Williams
  • 70 <= AV < 80: Earl Thomas, Joey Galloway, Sam Adams, Shaun Alexander
  • 80 <= AV < 90: Richard Sherman, Ahman Green, Jacob Green
  • 90 <= AV < 100: Bobby Wagner, Steve Hutchinson, Walter Jones, Cortez Kennedy
  • AV >= 100: Russell Wilson, Kevin Mawae

What is seen is that while AV is far from a precision tool, over time its use bears value. For example, during the 2019 season there were 103 players who generated an AV of 7 including:

  • Yannick Ngakoue,
  • Cam Robinson,
  • Terry McLaurin,
  • Mike Iupati,
  • Michael Brockers,
  • Mark Glowinski and
  • Duane Brown.

In short, AV paints in broad strokes, and provides a blurry picture. That said, there’s no doubt that in the list of representative players in the AV groupings above, that as the AV of the group increases, the quality of players in the group increases. Certainly, a player who generates significant value over an extended period of time is more valuable than a player who generates less value over that same time frame.

Getting back to the distributions, however, here is how the AV distribution for the 31 drafts in the sample break down for each of the seven rounds.

Long story short, while fans will always remember the successes from Day 3 like Chris Carson and Malcolm Smith, the reality is that there are a whole lot more players like Alex McGough, Zac Brooks, John Ursua, Ryan Murphy, Jameson Konz and Kiero Small who do little to nothing on the field during their career. Even David Moore, who receives a boatload of criticism from fans falls into the top quartile of career AV for seventh round picks even though he didn’t turn 25 until after the 2019 season concluded.

What it all means is that in the aftermath of Day 3, fans of teams across the league will spend time on the internet and on social media explaining how their team’s Day 3 picks were misused in college and are a perfect fit for their team’s scheme. Then, when the season arrives in September reality will be that those Day 3 picks see a lot less playing time than many fans anticipate. For example, here are the regular season snap counts for the players the Seahawks took on Day 3 in 2019:

  • Gary Jennings: 1 (for the Miami Dolphins)
  • Phil Haynes: 0
  • Ugo Amadi: 76
  • Ben Burr-Kirven: 4
  • Travis Homer: 84
  • Demarcus Christmas: 0
  • John Ursua: 11

That’s a total of 175 offensive and defensive snaps over the course of the entire season for all of the players selected by Seattle on Day 3. Just for comparison purposes, oft injured running back C.J. Prosise was on the field for 123 offensive snaps during the 2019 season.

In short, it’s prudent to keep expectations in check while many fans are expecting the Seahawks to bring in players who can be immediate difference makers.