For the first time in his 20 years as a personnel man, Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider does not have a pick in the first round of the NFL draft.
But Schneider, who talked with reporters for 45 minutes in a predraft press conference Wednesday, won’t be twiddling his thumbs come the opening of the draft next week.
The Seahawks traded away this year’s first-round selection as part of a deal with Minnesota for receiver Percy Harvin, so the team’s first pick isn’t until the second round – No. 56 overall. Seattle has 10 total selections.
“We want to really see how this thing’s going to come off,” Schneider said, “because I think you’re going to see a certain run on players, and then that will help us figure out kind of what’s going to happen in the second round.
“No. 56 is a very hard place to try and figure out what’s going to be there. But I think we’re getting closer.”
Seattle filled some of the team’s most glaring needs in free agency, trading for Harvin and signing pass rushers Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, along with run-stuffing defensive tackle Tony McDaniel and backup quarterback Brady Quinn.
Schneider acknowledged his team’s success in free agency will affect Seattle’s approach to the draft.
“I’d be lying to you if I said it doesn’t,” Schneider said. “We build our board off of our team. We don’t build it for the league. So it’s impacted based on the depth at each position, and then how we think people can compete at certain positions with the guys that are currently on our roster, or guys that we project may not be on our roster in 2014.”
Schneider also announced that the Seahawks finalized the deal with defensive back Antoine Winfield, a reported one-year agreement worth $3 million.
Finishing the deal was delayed because Winfield had a death in the family – his wife’s grandfather died, and the family needed time to attend the funeral.
“He’s here,” Schneider said about Winfield. “What went into it was, quite frankly, his agent was very aggressive in reaching out to us and expressing Antoine’s interest in playing with this defensive backfield, and our defense.”
Schneider said Winfield had a great conversation with coach Pete Carroll about the team’s overall philosophy – how it handles competition. From there, Winfield and his wife, Erniece, flew out to tour Seattle and the Seahawks’ facility, before returning to Minnesota to make the tough decision on whether to stay with the Vikings or move on to Seattle.
“He had a lot of angst for I’d say probably four or five days,” Schneider said. “And we stayed after it just from our side from a recruiting standpoint.”
Winfield is expected to serve as the team’s nickel cornerback, replacing Marcus Trufant – a 32-year-old Tacoma native who remains a free agent. Even though Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are Seattle’s starting cornerbacks, Schneider said the team considers Winfield a starter because he’ll play between 50 to 70 percent of the snaps this season.
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