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Malik McDowell and the Senior Bowl obsession of the Seahawks

Big Ten Championship Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

With barely two weeks until the 2022 NFL Draft is underway and the Jacksonville Jaguars are on the clock, many fans of the Seattle Seahawks are looking forward to the team holding a top ten pick for the first time in a long time. The hopes for a franchise left tackle or a difference maker at EDGE has optimism high, even as the team continues its search for a franchise quarterback after trading Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos.

Whether the Hawks trade back or stay and pick at number nine overall, if they do indeed make a pick on Day 1 of the draft, that pick will be made on the five year anniversary of the selection of Malik McDowell in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. That pick is one that many Seattle fans look at as a turning point for the franchise, as McDowell never suited up for the Seahawks as an ATV crash sent his career with the Hawks off the rails before it ever got out of the station.

In the wake of the entire McDowell affair, Pete Carroll and John Schneider were open regarding changes they made to the process of filtering through prospects the following spring. In particular, in the lead up to the 2018 draft, the team reportedly adopted a “Cleaned Up” process which involved a smaller draft board than in years past. As John Boyle of Seahawks.com noted,

As for what goes into the process of paring down their draft board, Schneider said it’s everything ranging from character concerns to medical issues to the always difficult process of “knowing what’s in a man’s heart.”

“There’s so much information on every individual—the medical portion, the orthopedic portion, the psychological portion, all the testing that goes into this, the functional movement stuff, the character stuff, right?” Schneider said. “At some point, there’s red flags, usually on everybody, but what happens is you end up kind of ignoring some of those red flags if you feel like you have a specific need or fit for a player. I think it’s happened in the past, it’ll probably happen in the future, but we just want to limit those. You never truly know the whole package, right? You never truly know what’s in a man’s heart. So we just work our tails off to try to find it out. We’re still doing it. We’re not going to be done until like Wednesday night or whatever.”

Of particular note in this case is that both of those paragraphs character is mentioned, and that becomes noteworthy when combined with the following data set, every Day 1 and Day 2 player the Seahawks have picked since:

2018 (1.27): Rashaad Penny*
2018 (3.79): Rasheem Green****
2019 (1.29): L.J. Collier*
2019 (2.47): Marquise Blair*
2019 (2.64): DK Metcalf****
2019 (3.88): Cody Barton***
2020 (1.27): Jordyn Brooks**
2020 (2.48): Darrell Taylor**
2020 (3.69): Damien Lewis*
2021 (2.56): Dee Eskridge*

Now, there are obviously a whole bunch of asterisks in that list, so it makes sense to jump right into what those asterisks mean.

*Played in the Senior Bowl
**Accepted Senior Bowl invitation during the fall but did not play due to injury
***Played in the Shrine Bowl
****Early entrant to the NFL draft (underclassman) and thus ineligible to play in Senior Bowl

Putting it all together, that is ten selections made between Day 1 and Day 2 of the draft by the Seahawks in the four years since the Seahawks “Cleaned Up” their draft process, and eight of the ten players were present at either the Senior Bowl or the Shrine Bowl for extended observation by the team. However, what is certainly of note is that the only two players who were not at either of the games, Metcalf and Green, are the only two players who were underclassmen and therefore not eligible to participate in the games.

In short, all the players the Seahawks “Cleaned Up” process identified as either Day 1 or Day 2 worthy were either at the all star games or underclassmen. So, for fans looking to make projections on exactly which players Carroll and Schneider could potentially add with pick 9, 40, 41 and 74, it would certainly seem wise to focus on the players who were at the Shrine Bowl or the Senior Bowl, as well as underclassmen who could slide and present attractive value on Day 2.