I was struck by the Seahawks' front office's philosophy to grade against their own team, which is what I tried to do here with my own board. The full quote is reprinted below.
"We've been on the same page enough and been through this enough with the coaches where we know when we're putting our board together and we're choosing players, we're selecting players for the coaches that we know will fit the coaches' philosophy at each position and have a legitimate chance to compete," Schneider said just following last year's draft. "That's all you can ask for a coaching staff - guys that are willing to teach and let guys compete."
Schneider continued, and this is important: "We grade for our team; we don't grade for the league. Our board basically represents that, if that makes sense to you. We grade a guy based on whether we think he can compete with Bruce Irvin, or Malcolm Smith, or Bobby Wagner, and that's the way our board falls."
"I can't speak for other organizations," he continued, "but as for our group, we know our coaches have trust in us as far as acquiring players that fit what they're looking for, or fit a certain position. They're going to compete, and obviously for them to do that, the trust in the coaches to teach, work, and develop those players. And Pete's main philosophy is all about competition. So, he opens that door, and you have a chance to play."
"When we're selecting players, we're giving the coaches players who are legitimate competitors at each position. Rather than having a head coach who has his mind made up and he's not going to change and be flexible, Pete is very flexible in terms of the players that we can provide."
First off, Seattle's needs for this May:
5-Tech Defensive Lineman
The Seahawks are currently very thin in terms of putting out a capable heir at their left defensive end position. Aside from Jesse Williams (and maybe even Greg Scruggs) there isn't really someone on the team that we can play across from our LEO.
Again, we're not definitively looking for a two-gapping DE. There are times last year when Red Bryant was rotated out with Michael Bennett, so there is a argument that can be put forth that Pete Carroll is prepared to move on from this look into something more of a traditional 4-3. We already know that whoever succeeds Bryant won't have to follow his exact size/measurements, but there is still a consistent emphasis that who Carroll looks for in a 5-Tech is a player that can take up blockers, stand his ground, and excel at defending the run.
It's easy to rationalize the offensive line's poor performance due to this year's injuries at left tackle, center and right tackle, but keep in mind that just the year before the Seahawks only ranked 20th in terms of passing DVOA despite being relatively healthy. And this is with the mobility of Russell Wilson covering up a lot of their mistakes.
The reason why I think good pass-blocking offensive guards is a priority is partially due to success of Drew Brees, Carl Nicks and Jahari Evans. New Orleans survived a lot without a premiere left tackle because their interior line play was exceptional. It allowed the mobile Brees to step up easily in the pocket, find open lanes and make the throws. I think Wilson needs to follow this mold, and you're not going to get any of that from James Carpenter or J.R. Sweezy as of yet.
Finally, it's again an issue of depth. Paul McQuistan has signed with the Browns, with Carpenter lined up for next year as well. Even if Alvin Bailey or Michael Bowie fills the hole, you can't go wrong with selecting a developmental player that you can groom within the next few years.
X Wide Receiver
In other words, I think the Seahawks can benefit from a big split-end target with some speed - think Mike Williams back in 2010 and how he managed to complete the third downs, quick gains and touchdowns on goal line passes. Without Sidney Rice and Golden Tate, I don't think the Seahawks has a legitimate #1 receiver they can count on for big gains and deep threads. Harvin does that for you, sure, but his best games comes from his ability to compliment.
I'm not naive enough to believe that a trio of Kearse, Baldwin and Harvin could carry the passing game for the next few years, even if Baldwin is retained. And besides, this year's class is probably one of its best in terms of their WR group. Let's capitalize on that.
Regardless of how well you thought Breno Giacomini is at right tackle, this position - like guard - is severely undervalued in terms of depth. I have some confidence in that fact that Michael Bowie or Alvin Bailey could be fringe starters, but given the hole with Breno's departure and the consistent injury risk of Okung, there's no reason that you shouldn't invest.
Again, like like last year, Seattle could also use a few depth picks in DB, LB, S and QB if the right guy is there. Otherwise, we can rely on UDFA standouts.
Next up, constructing the board itself. Because upside remains to be the most important value in terms of draftees right now, I ranked the potential of May's draftees in accordance with how well our players are performing right now. (So, if someone was ranked ahead of Russell Wilson in my board, he has the ability to play at a higher level than Wilson in the future.) Also, keep in mind these are players that I think will be generally available to us at 32 or lower.
If we combine how these players are ranked with our current Seahawks (which are in bold), along with their individual round projection, I believe we have created a John Schneider-esque draft board.
Take a look:
Ra'shede Hageman - Minnesota (1st round)
Stephon Tuitt - Notre Dame (1st round)
Dominique Easley - Florida (2nd round)
Louis Nix - Notre Dame (1st round)
Kareem Martin - North Carolina (2nd round)
Brent Urban - Virginia (5th round)
George Uko - USC (5th round)
Scott Crichton - Oregon State (2nd round)
Ethan Westbrooks - West Texas A&M (7th round)
Ed Stinson - Alabama (5th round)
Will Clarke - WVU (3rd round)
Ben Gardner - Stanford (3rd round)
IK Enemkapli - Louisiana Tech (7th round)
Taylor Hart - Oregon (6th round)
Xavier Su'a-Filo - UCLA (1st round)
David Yankey - Stanford (1st round)
Brandon Thomas - Clemson (2nd round)
Gabe Jackson - Mississippi State (3rd round)
Dakota Dotzier - Furman (3rd round)
Cyril Richardson - Baylor (4th round)
Wesley Johnson - Vanderbilt (4th round)
Chris Watt - Notre Dame (5th round)
Trai Turner - LSU (4th round)
Andrew Norwell - Ohio State (7th round)
Spencer Long - Nebraska (7th round)
Anthony Steen - Alabama (4th round)
Brian Clarke - Bloomsburg (7th round)
Kelvin Benjamin - Florida State (1st round)
Jordan Matthews - Vanderbilt (2nd round)
Odell Beckham Jr. - LSU (2nd round)
Davante Adams - Fresno State (2nd round)
Brandin Cooks - Oregon State (2nd round)
Allen Robinson - Penn State (2nd round)
Donte Moncrief - Ole Miss (3rd round)
Marquise Lee - USC (2nd round)
Martvais Bryant - Clemson (3th round)
Paul Richardson - Colorado (3rd round)
Jarvis Landry - LSU (4th round)
Brandon Coleman - Rutgers (5th round)
Cody Latimer - Indiana (5th round)
Jarred Abbrederis - Wisconsin (6th round)
Cody Hoffman - BYU (7th round)
Austin Franklin - New Mexico State (7th round)
Trey Burton - Florida (7th round)
Morgan Moses - Virginia (1st round)
Cyrus Kouandijo - Alabama (2nd round)
Antonio Richardson - Tennessee (2nd round)
Seantrel Henderson - Miami (3rd round)
Ja'Juwan James - Tennessee (2nd round)
Billy Turner - North Dakota State (3rd round)
Joel Bitonio - Nevada (2nd round)
Cameron Fleming - Stanford (4th round)
Jack Mewhort - Ohio State (3rd round)
James Hurst - North Carolina (5th round)
Luke Lucas - Kansas (6th round)
Matt Patchan - Boston College (7th round)
Here's the board again with the addition of the "unique" players not covered in our needs that you have to consider picking if they are there/worth advertising for a trade. I only did the first three rounds as the value of selecting day 3 players are much more minimal with trades, etc. More often than not, a majority of the best players in round 4 are those who slip through the cracks in round 3 - I think its fair to thus consider the parts as an official peak point.
DE Ra'shede Hageman - Minnesota
OG Xavier Su'a-Filo - UCLA
WR Kelvin Benjamin - Florida State
OT Morgan Moses - Virginia
OG David Yankey - Stanford
DE Stephon Tuitt - Notre Dame
DB Jason Verrett - TCU
DT Louis Nix - Notre Dame
TE Jace Amaro - Texas Tech
OT Cyrus Kouandijo - Alabama
OT Antonio Richardson - Tennessee
DE Dominique Easley - Florida
OG Brandon Thomas - Clemson
WR Jordan Matthews - Vanderbilt
WR Odell Beckham Jr. - LSU
DE Kyle Van Noy - BYU
WR Davante Adams - Fresno State
DE Kareem Martin - North Carolina
WR Marquise Lee - USC
WR Allen Robinson - Penn State
OT Ja'Juwan James - Tennessee
OT Joel Bitonio - Nevada
TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins - Washington
DE Scott Crichton - Oregon State
OT Seantrel Henderson - Miami
OG Gabe Jackson - Mississippi State
WR Donte Moncrief - Ole Miss
OLB Carl Bradford - Arizona State
WR Martvais Bryant - Clemson
OT Billy Turner - North Dakota State
LB Telvin Smith - Florida State
DT Anthony Johnson - LSU
OG Dakota Dotzier - Furman
S Terrance Brooks - Florida State
WR Paul Richardson - Colorado
OT Jack Mewhort - Ohio State