Trying to evaluate how the Seattle Seahawks did in the just-completed NFL draft is an effort in futility.
No matter what the Mel Kiper Jrs. of the world try to tell us, grading the draft in the immediate aftermath is meaningless — need we mention the universal derision aimed the Seahawks’ way in 2012 for using a third-round pick on a short quarterback named Russell Wilson? It will be years before we have any idea how well teams performed in this year’s draft.
But just because it’s too early to rate Seattle’s draft doesn’t mean we didn’t learn anything from the Seahawks’ selections. Who Seattle selected and how the Seahawks conducted their business provides information about what the organization thinks of the state of the roster. So with that in mind, here’s five things we can infer from Seattle’s draft:
1) John Schneider remains a draft-pick hoarder.
No general manager in the NFL has valued quantity over quality in the draft more than Seattle’s Schneider. There are seven rounds in the draft, yet the Seahawks averaged 9.4 picks in Schneider’s previous seven drafts in charge of the Seahawks. One can almost set his or her watch to Schneider trading down in the first round in order to accumulate more picks.
Seattle entered this year’s draft with just seven picks, and Schneider seemed to lament that fact when he met with the media prior to the draft, so there was much speculation about whether Schneider would pull his patented move again this year. Indeed, Schneider traded down not once, not twice, but thrice, picking up four additional picks in the process of moving down nine spots from No. 26 in the first round to No. 35 in the second round.
The Seahawks ended up with 11 picks in the draft, equalling the most for a Schneider-led Seahawks draft. According to the legendary film director Alfred Hitchcock, self-plagiarism is the essence of style, and Schneider remained true to his style in this year’s draft.
2) The Seahawks recognize their defense is aging.
The past five seasons Seattle has had one of the best defenses ever assembled by an NFL team. However, the core of that defense is beginning to get up there in years. Defensive ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril are both 31. Strong safety Kam Chancellor and cornerback Richard Sherman are both 29. Free safety Earl Thomas is about to turn 28, while linebackers K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner are 27 and 26, respectively. The average age of an NFL player last season was about 26.0, so all those players are now above the average NFL age.
So what did the Seahawks do in the draft? Six of their first eight selections were defensive players. It seemed Seattle was preparing for a future that eventually will be without some of those core players on defense.
3) The Legion of Boom member who should be looking over his shoulder isn’t Sherman, it’s Chancellor.
Speaking of core defensive players, all the speculation so far this offseason has surrounded Sherman, with very public talk about the possibility of Seattle’s All-Pro cornerback being traded. Were his days in a Seahawks jersey numbered? Well, the draft suggested otherwise. In what was considered a cornerback-heavy draft, Seattle only selected one corner. The Seahawks had multiple opportunities to nab University of Washington cornerback Kevin King, considered a Sherman clone, yet chose to pass. Given Seattle’s depth issues at corner beyond Sherman — DeShawn Shead is coming off a major knee injury, Jeremy Lane is coming off an inconsistent season — the Seahawks probably would have gone more corner-heavy in the draft if Sherman was on the way out.
But Seattle’s other picks bring into question where Chancellor stands in the Seahawks’ long-term plans. Seattle took three safeties, giving the Seahawks a big infusion of youth and depth at the position. Chancellor not only is on the verge of 30, he only has one year remaining on his contract. It was thought some sort of extension would get done this offseason, but that hasn’t happened yet. Could the additions at safety suggest Seattle will let Chancellor play out his contract?
4) The Seahawks don’t yet know what their offensive line will look like next season.
More fan angst was directed toward the offensive line than any other position last season. Since the season ended, the Seahawks lost right tackle Garry Gilliam to free agency, signed free-agent tackle Luke Joeckel and guard Oday Aboushi, talked about moving Germain Ifedi from right guard to right tackle, and offered up the possibility left tackle George Fant was rushed into a starting role.
Then in the second round the Seahawks selected Ethan Pocic, who played center in college (the same position as Justin Britt, the team’s top performer on the offensive line last season), who also saw time at guard, was announced at the draft as a tackle, and whom coach Pete Carroll praised for his flexibility.
Add it all up and it’s a formula for experimenting. Be prepared for a fair amount of tinkering on the offensive line during offseason activities.
5) Seattle is not deterred by Trevone Boykin’s offseason legal issues.
The Seahawks’ backup quarterback got into some legal trouble offseason when he was arrested following a car accident in late March, as he was said to be a passenger in a vehicle that struck pedestrians.
Last season, Boykin was the epitome of a low-budget backup option to Wilson as he received the job as an undrafted rookie free agent. With little invested in Boykin, the Seahawks could easily have walked away from him following his arrest. Instead, the Seahawks chose not to use any of their 11 draft picks on a quarterback. That indicates they still view Boykin as part of the competition for the backup job.
Follow Nick Patterson on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.