INDIANAPOLIS – Seattle Seahawks coach Jim Mora says evaluating players at the NFL scouting combine as a small piece of the puzzle for his team’s eventual selections in April’s NFL draft.
However, he does not diminish the value of being here to look at the more than 300 players putting themselves through their paces at Lucas Oil Stadium.
With the draft a little more than two months away, Mora knows time is ticking for the Seahawks, who have the No. 4 overall pick. And with Seattle holding its highest pick since 1997, there’s more of a premium on the Seahawks doing their homework to make sure they get the players who will have the most impact.
With Seattle holding two of the top 36 picks, Mora expects to get two of his team’s top 20 rated players.
On Saturday, he talked about the importance of bringing in the right players.
“What’s important is that we don’t reach for a need necessarily – that we draft the best player for our team that we think can make an impact,” Mora said. “And impact doesn’t necessarily mean scoring touchdowns or breaking up passes. It might mean, you know, who would ever argue that (star offensive tackle) Walter Jones hasn’t made an impact?
“You typically wouldn’t say that’s an impact type of pick, but history says it is. So I think we just have a lot of things we have to think about. And hopefully we make the right decision.”
With linebacker Leroy Hill receiving the franchise tag, Mora said the team will add players through the draft and will not be a major player in free agency. With that strategy, Seattle needs to continue finding talent the team believes will be long-term solutions on the field.
Sixteen of Seattle’s 22 starters ending last season came via the draft.
Mora has five coaches in Indianapolis, along with the team’s scouting department, to make sure the Seahawks are thorough in their evaluations. Seattle has 60, 15-minute interviews available to question players of its choosing.
Assistant coaches can evaluate players on their football knowledge by going over plays on a grease board.
Mora said Seattle’s vice president of player personnel Ruston Webster is conducting the interviews, with team president and general manager Tim Ruskell and Mora sitting in on the conversations.
“Ruston does a great job,” Mora said. “I mean, Ruston knows these guys inside and out. So he’s not wasting time, dancing around trying to find his way into their head. He can go right to it.”
Along with drafting players who fit the team’s system, Mora reiterated the importance of getting the guys currently on the roster playing better than the team’s 4-12 record. Mora said part of beginning that process is having his defensive assistant coaches not sugar coat what happened last season while reviewing film.
“We’re not going to be able to get where we need to go if you guys are walking on egg shells,” Mora said he told his new defensive coaches, who tried being diplomatic. “I know what it was. Let’s call it what it was and let’s go on.”
Mora said in order for Seattle to rebound from last season, the Seahawks will have to start quickly next season with a few wins in order to build momentum.
“You need to have some success early,” Mora said. “You need to win some games early so that some of the things you’re trying to convince these players that will work, do work.
“In our first year in Atlanta, we came out of the blocks 4-0, and beat the Rams the second week. And first we went out and beat San Francisco, where we hadn’t won in like 10 years. So they start to buy in a little bit there.”