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Where recent Seahawks first round picks ranked on the consensus big board

Are Pete Carroll and John Schneider changing their approach to player evaluation?

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NFL: MAR 03 Scouting Combline Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After a decade of picking in the bottom half of the first round (or trading out of it entirely), the Seattle Seahawks have a top-10 pick for the second consecutive season. After putting together one of the best draft classes in the NFL last year, the team enters the 2023 event with high expectations (and high picks). Traditionally, speculation around the Seahawks drafts has centered on Pete Carroll and John Schneider’s unique and unpredictable methods of evaluation. This could have simply been a product of the fact that they spent the better part of the 2010s as a perennial playoff team that was generally picking near the end of the order. This of course changed a bit in 2022, though.

When the team selected Charles Cross ninth overall last offseason, this was arguably the first time since drafting Russell Okung and Earl Thomas that Pete Carroll and John Schneider used their top overall pick on a guy who more or less lined up with the consensus big board. Cross ranked 9th overall on Athletic big board 2022, and he looked like a logical heir apparent to Duane Brown at the left tackle position. Prior to this, though, the organization seemingly made a habitual spectacle of either trading down repeatedly, or simply drafting a player who was projected to fall to a later point in the draft.

I was curious to find out where the team’s first round picks over the last five drafts ranked on the Athletic’s consensus big board for their respective season. Unsurprisingly, all except Cross were rated as Day Two prospects.

The team obviously lacked a first round pick in the 2021 draft, but their strategy apparently remained consistent with previous years, as they picked Dee Eskridge nearly twenty spots ahead of his big board ranking.

Clearly, many factors play into this approach. Perhaps predictability simply decreases as the draft progresses; that is, talent evaluation at the top end may be more likely to fall in “consensus” territory, whereas teams may feel more comfortable gambling a bit as many of the top prospects start to come off the board. Another big factor is positional value, as well, which is why we might see Will Levis come off the board before a guy like Bijan Robinson. But this doesn’t explain the discrepancy entirely, as each of the above picks was labeled a “reach” following the draft:

Jordyn Brooks

The 22-year old’s looking like a talented player. However, you’ve still got that nagging idea in the back of your mind that the linebacker would have been there in the second or third round. After all, this matches the opinions of draft media.

-Matty F. Brown, Sports Illustrated

L.J. Collier

Seattle, though, stuck to its evaluation with TCU defensive end L.J. Collier. While most analysts viewed him as a Day 2 pick—’s composite big board pegged him No. 54 overall—the Seahawks snatched Collier at No. 29.

-David Kenyon, Bleacher Report

Rashaad Penny

He’s a nice runner, but they have so many other needs and there are better backs. Weird.

-Pete Prisco, CBS

What does all this mean? Not much, other than the fact that Pete Carroll and John Schneider have often bucked conventional wisdom and drafted the player who they apparently viewed as the best fit for their team. This strategy backfired more than once or twice, though, and this left me wondering if the team may actually be taking a different approach at this point.

With the highest overall pick of the Carroll/Schneider-era, I don’t expect the team to draft a player with a Day Two projection if they stay put. They are guaranteed to have a shot to land a blue chip prospect, with at least one of Jalen Carter, Will Anderson jr., or one of the top three QBs destined to be available when the team is on the clock. While they could be looking to one of the other top players (like Tyree Wilson), I don’t think we will see them venture too far outside of the consensus rankings when they are on the clock... if they stick with the fifth overall pick.