Saturday, March 29, 2014

John Schneider and Pete Carroll's Track Record: Position-By-Position


John Schneider and Pete Carroll built a champion. They did it in remarkable fashion, needing just three seasons to go from one of the oldest and least talented rosters in the NFL to the very best. At the core of their success has been Schneider's ability to find great talent, and Carroll's willingness to find places for those young players to contribute right away. People love to point to the Russell Wilson story as the best evidence of Carroll's philosophy around open competition, but they miss the more frequent, and less publicized, decisions to play Kam Chancellor as a goal-line safety his rookie season behind Lawyer Milloy, or Greg Scruggs getting rotational snaps on the defensive line as a rookie. Rookies will play in Seattle. This idea of Carroll "red-shirting" players is not going to stick. Young players that demonstrate unique talent will find the field right away, even if it means a small role at first.

Schneider and Carroll have not experienced equal success at each position group. As the Seahawks head toward the fifth draft from this front office, it is worth looking back at where they have done best in the past.

I have revised my grades for Schneider picks, along with key undrafted free agents. Keep in mind, I am trying to grade the draft choice, not necessarily the player. In other words, picking Andrew Luck with the first overall pick would not score at the top of this list because it required no special ability to evaluate talent. Drafting Russell Wilson in the 3rd round? That deserves some recognition. That does not mean Wilson is a better player than Luck (although he very well may be). Hopefully, that makes sense. I decided to have a little fun and come up with a simple grading system to see where the choices all stack up.

I listed all of the Seahawks draft choices from the last four years and included key undrafted free agents as well. Each selection was scored based on three categories:

VALUE: Did the Seahawks get the player later than their talent indicates they should have been selected?

UPSIDE: How good can this player be? Roughly, 10 is All-Pro, 8-9 is Pro Bowl, 7 Starter

PERFORMANCE: How have they performed on the field? This takes into account injuries and production. This factor is weighted 1.5X the others, as performance is what matters most.

There is obviously more projection involved in players drafted this year.


Now, let's take a look at how that breaks down by position. Apologies for folks on mobile devices, as this infographic can be a pain there. It's just too much fun to omit.



Parting Thoughts

The troubling message from the data is that Schneider and Carroll clearly value both the OL and DL, but their track record at finding talent on either side of the line is among their worst. If they pick a cornerback, there is a decent chance the guy can play. A linebacker? Pencil him in. A pass rusher? A run stuffing defensive tackle? A road-grading guard? Skepticism would be fair. Two rookies from last season, Alvin Bailey and Michael Bowie could change from Jury Still Out to Hits as early as next year. Scruggs, Benson Mayowa, Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams could change the equation on the defensive line. No matter how optimistic you are as a Seahawks fan, the draft performance of this front office on the two lines is a troubling trend that needs to be turned around. Going out and spending $30M on lineman is not any way to Win Forever.

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