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John Schneider is back on his draft game

NFL Combine - Day 1 Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The last time the Seattle Seahawks became dominant, it was on the back of three incredible draft years in a row.

Don’t hang the banner, but Seattle GM John Schneider is on the verge of going 2.5 for his last 2.5.

On Saturday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Seahawks saw major contributions from Charles Cross, Abraham Lucas, Boye Mafe, Kenneth Walker III, Tariq Woolen Coby Bryant, and even seventh round receivers Bo Melton and Dareke Young.

Though it is Preseason Week 1, that’s significant for Seattle followers for several reasons. Here they are.

1 - The One looked like a One, and that’s a Win

In recent years, fans might remember the team trading away their first pick, or they might remember who was eventually selected with the first Seattle pick, be it the original spot or 45 picks later. Those same fans might also remember that player immediately vanishing into the void without a trace or proof of life.

L.J. Collier. Malik McDowell. Not so much Germain Ifedi, as much as some people wished for him to disappear.

Charles Cross and Jordyn Brooks are both real football players. In fact, Boye Mafe looked frankly incredible, which means we get to say that Cross, Brooks, Mafe, and Darrell Taylor are all real football players.

GM’s don’t have to hit every pick to keep their job; nobody does. But it sucks so much to consistently whiff on the first and second selection. Those are supposed to be the good guys. In 2020 and 2022, Schneider got good guys. Hopefully, really good ones.

2 - That’s a lot of starters

Or potential therein. Again, every NFL roster already has incredibly talented players, even occasionally the Chicago Bears have one or two. But Seattle has right now guys that are competing to show they belong, every day. Not competing to belong on the roster, competing to belong as a valuable contributor.

From 2013-2019, Schneider averaged two solid starters and one fringe player. Think Shaquill Griffin and Chris Carson in 2017, with Ethan Pocic kind of thrown in there. Or think Luke Willson and, um, other humans, from 2013. Even DK Metcalf doesn’t salvage the rest of the ‘19 class.

2020 gives you Brooks, Taylor, Damien Lewis, plus a frequently effective Alton Robinson and the potential contributions from DeeJay Dallas or Freddie Swain.

The first four picks of 2022 look to be nearly NFL ready, two of them are for sure in Walker and Cross.

Immediately Schneider has essentially tripled the average “can this guy contribute” conversation in two drafts over and against his previous six. That qualification is different, and allowable at this point in the preseason, than whether Boye Mafe is a solid NFL starter, for example. At this point in many summers we already had Gary Jennings...Demarcus Christmas...Rasheem Green...Amara Darboh....disappear into that failed draft pick void.

Yes, that means it was bad for a while. But also yes, that means it’s much improved, even good.

3- Deep hits in the secondary

And this is where Schneider gets half credit for finding the remarkable things we saw in Tre Brown in 2021, though it was short-lived. Expectations are rather limited in a three-pick draft.

Upon the conclusion of Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell in 2011 (and we could say Jeremy Lane in 2012), Seattle drafted the following DBs:

  • Tharold Simon
  • Eric Pinkins
  • Tye Smith
  • Tedric Thompson
  • Mike Tyson
  • Lano Hill
  • Shaquill Griffin

All between rounds 3-7. Only Griffin played well.

This is clearly the Seahawks M.O., whether just Schneider, or Pete Carroll’s on board as well. But if the plan is to take mid-round safeties and make ‘em corners, well, you better be really freaking good at doing that because it’s risky and unpredictable.

They were not good at it.

Now, the team’s looking at two 4s and a 5 that seem to flash serious potential. Again, it’s Preseason Week 1 sure but at this point in 2017 we had legitimately [don’t lie] forgotten that Mike Tyson was on the roster. There weren’t reports of “keeping up with Metcalf” type plays.