After 11 months of evaluating and reevaluating prospects, John Schneider and Pete Carroll are confident that they will continue to improve the Seahawks’ roster in this week’s NFL Draft.
John Schneider and Pete Carroll fielded questions for almost 40 minutes on Tuesday afternoon, as the Seahawks general manager and coach discussed everything from draft philosophy to their grading system and priority positions from quarterback to each side of the line in preparation for Thursday night’s first round of the NFL Draft.
It was Carroll, the team’s second-year coach, who boiled it all down to 10 words: “If you keep looking, you get closer to the truth.”
That’s what this arduous process has been about – one that began last spring with the college scouts evaluating juniors, and has ratcheted in recent months with the all-star games, scouting combine, Pro Day workouts and countless draft meetings involving Carroll’s coaches and Schneider’s scouts.
“You have medical, you have psychological, you have security/background and then you have like different flavors of ice cream for different positions,” said Schneider, the team’s second-year general manager. “It’s just a constant process of mulling those together.”
Interjected Carroll, who was seated beside Schneider on the auditorium stage at Virginia Mason Athletic Center: “There’s no one way that is the way. It would be too easy. There are a lot of aspects we have to take into account and some of them weigh more heavily because of the individual strengths and weakness than others. But we try to encompass all that’s available to us and really in tireless fashion just keep putting it together and taking our time and being patient and not rushing to judgment on anything.”
Judgment Day will arrive soon enough – at approximately 8 p.m. Thursday, when the Seahawks will be “on the clock” with the 25th pick in the first round. It will play out to a lesser degree on Friday, when the Seahawks have the 57th pick overall in the second round; and Saturday, when they are scheduled to make six picks.
Schneider would love to trade back from the 25th spot in the first round, especially if he can recoup a third-round pick after the Seahawks sent theirs to the San Diego Chargers last spring in the trade for quarterback Charlie Whitehurst and still have a shot at a player that can address one of the team’s many needs.
But the Seahawks’ GM stressed that trading back is easier said than done, and reluctantly admitted that he is entering the draft expecting to select a player at 25.
“It’s a goal. But it’s much harder to move back than it is to go up,” Schneider said. “You have to find a partner. There’s a certain trust level involved. And it has to happen quick. And somebody has to really want somebody.”
Whatever avenue is available to the Seahawks on Thursday night, the goal is the same: Adding players to the pile that Schneider and Carroll began compiling last year, when they made a staggering 284 roster moves.
“We like the guys we have coming back. We like this group of guys that we’ve started with,” Carroll said. “We just feel like we’re in the infancy stages of putting this program together. So we made some headway.
“So our thought as we go into to draft is just to complement and to get more guys that will compete and fight the way we want to fight.”
That leaves the door wide open when it comes to drafting from the 25th spot, as opposed to No. 6 and No. 14 last year when Schneider and Carroll added cornerstone players in left tackle Russell Okung and free safety Earl Thomas. Each filled a glaring need, but each also matched the value of the pick.
This year, the Seahawks could continue to improve their offensive line after using 10 starting combinations last season. Or, add similar depth and talent on the defensive line, where midseason injuries to end Red Bryant and tackles Colin Cole and Brandon Mebane eroded the Seahawks ability to stop the run. Or, get bigger and better at the cornerback position. Or, address the quarterback situation, where incumbent starter Matt Hasselbeck is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent and Whitehurst is the only passer under contract.
When asked about the fine line that is sticking to the best-player-available philosophy and addressing an obvious need, Carroll cracked, “We’re going to take the best player available that we need.”
While it sounded funny, it makes sense. The Seahawks have enough needs that they could very well merge BPA and need, as they did last year. But they’ll have to do it from the bottom of the first round, rather than the top.
“It’s very different,” Schneider said. “Twenty-five is challenging. But it makes it that much more fun, as well.”