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Seahawks and Rams in heated competition to have fewer first round picks

Wild Card Round - Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

With Super Bowl LV set to take place a week from Sunday and wrap up the 2020 NFL season, the football-less void known as the offseason is just around the corner. The offseason, of course, means lots of hype, hope and speculation regarding free agency and the draft, and even in the absence of football this weekend, the Los Angeles Rams and the Detroit Lions made sure to keep football in the news with the trade of Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford.

For the Rams, it is once again a show of what the franchise thinks of first round picks, as they dug into the storage closet and traded every single first round pick they could find. Not until the draft actually starts in April will the Rams have a first round pick as a tradeable asset, and even then it will be a 2024 first rounder that won’t carry a whole lot of value in at any point in the immediate future. However, the move continues the Rams’ pattern of eschewing first round picks, something their vice president of football operations Kevin Demoff discussed at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference a couple of years ago.

In short, an internal analysis by the Rams found that draft picks tend to take three years to develop under the then current CBA. So between that idea and the fact that first round picks see the overwhelming majority of their contract fully guaranteed, there’s at least an argument to be made that first round picks are overvalued.

However, bringing things back to the Seattle Seahawks, this topic gives fans an opportunity to look at what the Hawks have been able to do under Pete Carroll and John Schneider with the first round picks the team has had. So, without wasting any time discussing things, here is a compilation of how many snaps all the players the Hawks have drafted with their first round picks played for the team during the 2020 season. In addition, because of the tendency of the front office to trade down out of the first round, this list also includes the picks the team added in the process of trading down over the years.

2010:
Russell Okung (0)
Earl Thomas (0)

2011:
James Carpenter (0)

2012:
Bruce Irvin (122)

2013:
Percy Harvin (0)

2014:
Paul Richardson (0)
Kevin Norwood (0)
Garrett Scott (0)
Kiero Small (0)
Cassius Marsh (0)

2015:
Jimmy Graham (0)

2016:
Germain Ifedi (0)
Nick Vannett (0)

Now, of note here is that when it comes to Vannett, during his fourth year in the NFL, Schneider flipped Vannett to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a fifth round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Then, during the offseason Schneider sent that fifth round pick to the Washington Football Team in exchange for Quinton Dunbar, and thus Dunbar’s snaps from the 2020 season are included here.

Quinton Dunbar (397)

2017:
Malik McDowell (0)
Mike Tyson (0)
Tedric Thompson (0)
Lano Hill (90)
Chris Carson (403)

2018:
Rashaad Penny (38)
Rasheem Green (365)
Jacob Martin (0)
Alex McGough (0)

2019:
L.J. Collier (560)
Marquise Blair (63)
DK Metcalf (980)
Gary Jennings Jr (0)
Ugo Amadi (551)
Ben Burr-Kirven (10)
Travis Homer (138)

2020:
Jordyn Brooks (367)

2021:
Jamal Adams (784)

2022:
Jamal Adams (Not double counting)

Putting all of that together, the Seahawks saw 4,858 offensive and defensive snaps on the field in 2020 from their usage of all their combined first round picks since Carroll and Schneider arrived. Bringing the conversation back to the Rams trade for Goff, it’s a far simpler analysis because of how few of their first round picks they have actually used recently. Skipping the detailed calculations, the analysis finds the Rams had 3,273 on field snaps from their first round picks since 2010 this past season.

The analysis then turns to how valuable those snaps played are. Los Angeles has over 1,800 snaps that can be considered elite level contributions from Donald and Ramsey this past season, while for Seattle it’s difficult to argue that anyone other than Adams and Metcalf, possibly Carson, provided elite level snaps from the listed players.

In short, it comes down to a choice: Is is better to continually trade down and add multiple picks for a shot at multiple players who can contribute or is it better to consolidate picks into known quantities and build around those players?

For 2021 the Rams will have Jalen Ramsey, Matthew Stafford and Van Jefferson as a result of their use of trading first round picks for established players, while the Seahawks will have Penny, Green, Collier, Blair, Metcalf, Amadi, Homer, BBK, Brooks and Jamal Adams on their roster. At this point neither team has a first round pick in 2021 or 2022, and the Rams don’t currently hold a first round pick in 2023 either. So, perhaps this opens a window for the San Francisco 49ers to not finish in last place for the fifth time in seven seasons in 2021, or perhaps the 49ers will join in the action and make the NFC West the no-first-round-picks-for-the-foreseeable-future club by trading for Deshaun Watson.

Whatever happens, be sure to stay tuned to Field Gulls during the offseason because things are shaping up to be extremely interesting.