The annual poke-prod-and-pry evaluation of this year’s college class – also known as the NFL scouting combine – doesn’t take place until next week in Indianapolis. But the Seahawks not only are ready, they’re prepared.
First-year general manager John Schneider, new head coach Pete Carroll and their combined staffs just concluded two weeks of meetings to evaluate the players who will be on display in Indy, and assess which ones might best help a team coming off a 5-11 season and holding three of the Top 40 selections in April’s NFL draft.
“We’ve had our meetings to evaluate the current roster. We’ve looked at free agency. We just had 14 days of draft meetings,” Schneider said. “We’re ready to go.”
The Seahawks will be there in force, roughly 50 strong. The contingent will range from Carroll and his mostly new assistant coaches; to Schneider and his mostly holdover staff; to the team doctors, who will take their turns performing the all-important physicals of the draft-eligible players.
While the college scouts have seen the combine-bound players for the past several seasons, this seven-days-in-Indy adventure will provide the coaching staff with the next step in its evaluation process of the draft class of 2010. The coaches saw many of these players during the Senior Bowl practices last month, but the combine will allow them to sit down and talk to potential draft choices.
There’s no denying just how important this draft – and this combine – is to Schneider, Carroll and crew as they start a rebuilding process for a team that has won nine games the past two seasons. The Seahawks hold not only their own pick in the first round (No. 6 overall), but another (No. 14) which was obtained last year during a draft-day trade with the Denver Broncos. They also have their own second-round pick (No. 40 overall).
Three picks – and chances – to import impact players that will allow Schneider and Carroll to start putting their stamp on the Seahawks.
“Having those picks is fun,” Schneider said. “It’s not so fun when you lose the number of games it took to get those picks.”
The Seahawks have had mixed results in the past when selecting from such a lofty perch in the draft order.
In 1976, their inaugural draft, they used the second pick overall to select Notre Dame defensive tackle Steve Niehaus. But injuries limited his career to 36 games and 20 starts. The following year, they traded the second selection to the Dallas Cowboys for a package of three picks they parlayed into guard Steve August, tackle Tom Lynch and linebacker Terry Beeson. While this threesome started a combined 205 games, the Cowboys used the No. 2 pick on Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett.
In 1981, however, the Seahawks held the fourth pick overall and selected Kenny Easley, who became an All-Pro strong safety and member of the team’s Ring of Honor. The following year, they drafted defensive lineman Jeff Bryant with the sixth pick overall and he went on to start 167 games – and is the only player in franchise history to have started at all four spots on the line.
In 1983, in Chuck Knox’s first draft as coach, the Seahawks traded their picks in the first three rounds to move up to No. 3 so they could take running back Curt Warner, another member of the Ring of Honor. They made a similar move in 1990, moving up to No. 3 in the trade with the New England Patriots, to land defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, another All-Pro player and Ring of Honor member.
In 1993, the Seahawks used the second pick overall on Notre Dame quarterback Rick Mirer, who lasted only four seasons before being traded to the Chicago Bears – for a first-round pick they used to trade up to No. 3 in 1997 to get Shawn Springs, who became a Pro Bowl cornerback. That same year, they swapped their own first-round pick and a third-rounder to move to No. 6 to get left tackle Walter Jones, another All-Pro player.
Last year, drafting from the fourth spot, the Seahawks selected linebacker Aaron Curry, who started as a rookie before a shoulder injury sidelined him for the final two games.
Obviously, it’s not just which pick – or picks – you have, but what you do with them.