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The Morning After: Pivotal 2017 Draft Day Two Ends with 6 New Seahawks
Seattle chose to accumulate picks and address some needs and may have missed out on some value as a result. McDowell is key to how this draft will be judged.
Top-Shelf Potential
Risk vs Reward
Overall Assessment
3.1Draft Day 2 Rating
Reader Rating: (36 Votes)

The Seahawks have made 45 selections in the NFL draft since picking Russell Wilson with the 75th pick in the 3rd round in 2012. Only Tyler Lockett has made the Pro Bowl, and that was as a returner. Wilson was the 21st selection of the Pete Carroll and John Schneider regime. Eight of those first 21 picks became Pro Bowl position players. Anybody expecting a team to sustain the kind of blue chip return rate the Seahawks enjoyed in those first 21 picks is destined to be disappointed. That will go down as one of the greatest accumulations of talent in NFL history. That does not mean the team can afford to go through four drafts without producing Pro Bowl talent and hope to contend for championships. The dynasty 49ers drafted at least one Pro Bowl player every year from 1980 to 1991, except for one (1982). There were years where they exited the draft with only one viable NFL starter, but the draft was a huge success because that player was elite. Seattle exited the second day of the draft with a significant quantity of players, but success will ultimately judged by whether any of those names rise to become among the best at their position in the NFL.

 

Quality >>> quantity

I spent a fair amount of time on Twitter last night debating with people about whether quantity of picks gave the Seahawks a better chance to find that blue chip star. Their argument was by trading down, and accumulating more draft picks in the third and fourth rounds, the Seahawks were more likely to hit on a star. It is a fair question, and one that I have had over the years since Schneider has shown such a knack for finding talent later in the draft. History, though, does not necessarily support that strategy.

Halloffamersbyround

The implication here is that teams are far more likely to draft game-changing talent in the first round than in any other. Tilt your head another way, and you could say that you have an almost equal chance to find a Hall of Famer after the first round (49%) as you do in the first round (51%). If you look at Schneider’s draft history, here is what you find in each round:

Round 1 (40% Pro Bowlers)

*indicates Pro Bowl player

Russell Okung*

Earl Thomas*

James Carpenter

Bruce Irvin

Germain Ifedi

Round 2 (29% Pro Bowlers)

Golden Tate*

Bobby Wagner*

Christine Michael

Paul Richardson

Justin Britt

Frank Clark

Jarran Reed

Round 3 (14% Pro Bowlers)

John Moffitt

Russell Wilson*

Jordan Hill

Tyler Lockett (looking for position players)

C.J. Prosise

Nick Vannett

Rees Odhiambo

Round 4 (8% Pro Bowlers)

Walter Thurmond

E.J. Wilson

K.J. Wright*

Kris Durham

Robert Turbin

Jaye Howard

Chris Harper

Cassius Marsh

Kevin Norwood

Kevin Pierre-Louis

Terry Poole

Mark Glowinski

Round 5 (18% Pro Bowlers)

Kam Chancellor*

Richard Sherman*

Mark LeGree

Korey Toomer

Jesse Williams

Tharold Simon

Luke Willson

Jimmy Staten

Tye Smith

Quinton Jefferson

Alex Collins

Round 6 & 7 (0% Pro Bowlers)

I’ll spare you the list…

I think we got spoiled as Seahawks fans that Seattle was able to unearth two diamonds in round five the first two years of Schneider’s time in Seattle. It has not happened again since, and the odds are it will not happen very often in the future. The Seahawks have drafted three Pro Bowl players after the third round since Schneider came aboard (none since 2011). You can throw in Doug Baldwin as a fourth, but he was not drafted. Players have always been quick to tell me that a big part of how players become Pro Bowlers is due to the business side of the NFL where general managers and coaches are more inclined to invest time, coaching, and opportunity in players selected earlier in the draft.

While it is true that plays a significant role, no team is more willing to give players a chance to earn their playing time than in Seattle, where almost half the roster is made up of undrafted free agents. Even here, game-changing talent is more often found earlier in the draft.

You only need one…

So many fans and media tend to judge drafts by how many players contribute. The truth is, just one great player is worth so much more than a balanced draft full of average or even above average starters.

People remember names like Jerry Rice, Tom Rathman, John Taylor, and Charles Haley when thinking about the 1980s 49er dynasty, but the team had already won two of their four Super Bowls before any of those players came aboard. Roger Craig and left tackle Bubba Paris were key draft choices in 1983 that helped the team to their second Lombardi Trophy in 1984.

One of the keys to the longevity of the 49ers run was their ability to infuse the roster with new Pro Bowl talent throughout the decade. It was not about quantity with the 49ers, as a number of their drafts only included one or two good players, but the quality of their good picks was extremely high. There was also some good fortune involved.

Just as Dwight Clark and Freddie Solomon were winding down at receiver, the team found Jerry Rice and John Taylor. As Dwight Hicks neared the end of his career, San Francisco drafted cornerbacks Tim McKyer and Don Griffin, which allowed them to shift Lott to safety. Fans want to believe champions are built purely by genius, but luck always plays a role.

Their 1985 draft consisted of Rice, Ricky Moore, Bruce Collie, Scott Barry, David Wood, and Donald Chumley. If you are wondering who those other guys are, you are not alone. None of them amounted to anything of note. Yet, I’m fairly certain the 49ers consider that a hugely successful draft.

 

Thoughts on who Seattle picked

Malik McDowell (Pass Rushing Defensive Tackle)

Outside of quarterback, the most impactful addition you can make to any team is a dynamic interior pass rusher. Edge rushers like Von Miller get most of the hype, but it is the guys inside who completely upend offenses. Michael Bennett has been that at times for Seattle, but has had to spend more time on the edge and is getting older. McDowell is tall (6’6″), quick, and young (20). Some had him as high as the top half of the first round before his last season at Michigan State where some effort questions surfaced. Schneider compared him to Calais Campbell in the press conference last night. That is high praise and probably an unfair comparison given the havoc-wreaking monster Campbell has become.

What I like about this pick is it gives Seattle more ammunition for a pass rush that was often inconsistent in applying pressure last year even if their sack total was good. McDowell is the type of rusher who can impact a play with his length even if he does not reach the passer. Think about Tom Brady and how quickly he releases the football. You are not going to sack him very often, but you can impede his passing lanes and knock down some throws.

What I don’t like about this pick is there is more risk involved than having grabbed more certain contributor like CB Kevin King when the team had a chance to grab him at 31 the day prior. King was a guy who almost certainly would be a starter from year one and could have Pro Bowl potential in this system. That said, if McDowell works out as a dynamic interior rusher, he will be far more valuable than even a Pro Bowl corner. Games are won and lost at the line of scrimmage.

Ethan Pocic (Swiss Army Offensive Lineman)

Everyone knows the Seahawks offensive line is a problem. In that light, it is no surprise the team spent early draft capital on a player they believe can help.

What I like about this pick is Pocic is a guy who has proven himself as a lineman in the most physical conference in college football. He also comes with a clean bill of health, unlike someone like Odhiambo last year. He provides a hedge against Justin Britt, should the team decide to let him walk after his contract is up after this season, and may also challenge at guard and even right tackle. For Seattle to spend a second round pick on Pocic, it says they believe he is guy who can step in right away and contribute and be a quality starter for years to come.

What I don’t like about this pick is this regime has shown little ability to scout and select offensive line talent, especially at the top of the draft. I take some solace in the fact that they admitted Tom Cable did not visit and scout this player the way he has for every top pick in the past. Cable has a lot of positive qualities, but he has blind spots that make him a poor evaluator of line prospects. Schneider said Cable was not involved as a smoke screen to keep other teams off their trail. It could just as easily be an adjustment based on self-scouting that the personnel guys need to own the offensive line evals from this point on. In any event, this pick pissed me off. It pissed me off because I do not trust this front office to pick an offensive lineman who can help, and because they spent two of their first five picks last year on lineman who were not very good last year. They admit they got too young on the line last year, and this will not help them get any more experienced. Are we looking at another year of the team telling fans to be patient because this is Pocic’s first season? Are we going to see more communication issues between him and other linemen that leave Russell Wilson exposed? Combine those questions with the fact that this draft was rich in defensive back talent that the team passed on with their first pick, and then passed on again with their second pick. It felt like Schneider looked at his roster and said he wanted another offensive lineman, and there was a big dropoff after Pocic, so let’s grab him now. It was the same logic he used for drafting Britt a few years back. I hate that logic. CB Chidobe Awuzie was sitting there waiting for Seattle at this pick. So was S Josh Jones. Pocic needs to be an above average starter to be worth passing on those types of players.

 

Shaquill Griffin (Speedy Corner, Possible Safety)

What I like about this pick is Griffin has some unique qualities. He has good length at 6’0″ and dynamic speed (4.38s 40-yard-dash). He has a pogo-stick 38.5″ vertical leap as well. This is the highest pick the Seahawks have used on a cornerback since Carroll took over. Griffin has tools that most of the previous Seahawks corners did not. He is more like Walter Thurmond III, who came out with great cover ability and measurables. His speed is remarkable enough that it is at least worth asking whether Seattle will cross-train him at free safety to give the team a possible hedge against another Earl Thomas injury or rash retirement.

What I don’t like about this pick is it came third. My concern is the Seahawks waited one pick too long to pluck talent from this cornerback pool. If Griffin becomes a serviceable starter when others picked before him become standout starters, this will have been a mistake.

 

Delano Hill (Safety, Possible Corner)

What I like about this pick is Seattle finally drafted another safety. They really have not invested in the safety position since 2010, when they took Thomas in the first and Chancellor in the fifth. They have not spent a pick before the sixth round on a safety since, and the depth at the position has really suffered as a result. Hill is a good special teams player as well, and solid hitter. He is a hedge against Chancellor leaving after this season.

What I don’t like about this pick is not much. His upside seems limited as his athletic ability is not outstanding. Probably does not have a Pro Bowl ceiling.

 

Nazair Jones (Run-Stuffing Defensive Tackle)

What I like about this pick is the Seahawks defensive line is getting super competitive. You have Reed, Ahtyba Rubin, Jefferson, and now Jones to battle it out inside. This gives the team a good chance to remain the best run defense in the NFL.

What I don’t like about this pick is spending a third round pick on a run-stuffer is pretty pricey. Seattle has been able to address this role with cheaper veteran options like Tony McDaniel, Alan Branch, and Rubin. Why fix what ain’t broke? Grabbing a higher ceiling player at a more impactful position would have been preferable.

 

Amara Darboh (Physical Wide Receiver)

What I like about this pick is Darboh is known not only for being a physical pass catcher, but a physical run blocker and special teams player. He does not need to come in and become a starter receiver to add value and contribute to the team right away.

What I don’t like about this pick is he does not possess quick twitch attributes that would help him create separation and be a more dynamic playmaker. He might be a better version of Jermaine Kearse, which would be a very good thing.

13 Responses

  1. Levi

    “The Seahawks have made 45 selections in the NFL draft since picking Russell Wilson with the 75th pick in the 3rd round in 2012. Only Tyler Lockett has made the Pro Bowl, and that was as a returner. Wilson was the 21st selection of the Pete Carroll and John Schneider regime. Eight of those first 21 picks became Pro Bowl position players.”

    This is why we should all miss Scott McLaughlin.

    Reply
  2. STB

    Thanks for the great write-up and honest analysis as usual. Love the site. I’m a bit on the other side here as I definitely favor the trade back strategy (with occasional exceptions). Some key points:

    1) Total “trade value” for all 32 1st round picks (according to standard draft trade charts): 37,065. Total “trade value” for all remaining picks in the draft: 23,619. So taking your HOF numbers, 1st rounders return HOFers at a rate well below draft capital costs.

    2) 1st rounders have immense opportunity advantage to get HOF production. With so much sunk cost 1st rounders have to really suck to lose their starting role, while late rounders have to really wow to take over. Imagine how much better a shot at the HOF Doug Baldwin could have if he was a day 1 top featured offensive weapon by virtue of being an early pick. And he was lucky to be on one of the few teams that give UDFAs a real shot. Despite these huge advantages 1st rounders *still* produce HOFers at a rate below draft costs.

    3) Cap costs — late rounders and UDFAs save money for free agent signings.

    I think it’s important to keep in mind that in the last few years of the JSPC regime they’ve had ~40% less draft capital (by virtue of their success) than their first years simply because high 1st round picks are valued so highly by the league. And yet they are still stocking an elite, deep roster.

    Reply
  3. curious

    I can tell you are angry about many of the draft picks and have very dogmatic opinions this year, Brian. I can’t tell weather or not these opinions will earn you the title of draft genius or goat (perhaps something in-between). Time will tell. What scares me is in the past you’ve been incredibly reputable – which would be bad news this year for the Seahawks.

    Reply
  4. Godfrey Chumley

    The key word w/ McDowell is IF. Every sentence defending or explaining the McDowell pick leans on that little two letter word.

    Whereas the if-factor with King is so much less.

    (Some people just don’t like an easy one right down the middle, I guess).

    Yes, the whole draft is a crap shoot — lotsa Can’t Miss Prospects with all the right numbers that flame out. But how often does a cornerback needy NFL team get to pick a Kevin King talent at the bottom of the first round?

    Reply
  5. Uncle Bob

    I really hate that quantity over quality mentality, it implies there’s too much luck involved in the evaluation process. The wildcards are character and possible injuries, but the rest are largely measurable. I had hoped, based on Schneiders comments in weeks past about seeing big “holes” in the draft quality, that they wouldn’t obsess about the number of picks, but would rather take the quality available at any given point in the process. Even trade up significantly for a change (getting at least to 18 in the first seemed realistic), especially if a Sherman trade were the impetus. There were some game changers there that would have been complementary to the remaining talent on this squad. But they circled around to those old beliefs/habits and made more “Seahawky” picks that are as dubious as the past 4-5 years. Some decent players, but not much for “power picks”.

    There are probably people or entities out there that keep track of this stuff…….e.g. “Seattle chose so-and-so when they had the chance instead of Mr. Limp-biscuit look what they would have probably gained.” This feels likes one of those years where there’s a greater number of those possibilities. Yeah, hind sight is 20/20 but still…………. Hopefully we can rekindle some optimism by September.

    Reply
    • andytyl003

      Agree. It is so funny that PC and JS are “copying” the NE playbook in drafting strategy. However, NE stopped doing that in the past 2 or 3 drafts, partly due to TB’s age. They look for quality FAs to fill the needs and use the drafts to build its depth. It seems this regime is spinning its wheel w/o knowing what to do or just being arrogance or stubborn about its ways. I’ve said it before, PC is a great coach, but his downfall is the inability to adapt (seen this picture before from the USC days and previous gigs). He knows only one way and can’t change it. Whatever the logic or reasons they are using, the only thing that I can say is if you can’t protect your biggest investment, then why invested it in the first place. Make no sense. Hopefully, Seattle fans do not dwell in the past and start looking toward the future. From what I am seeing, it does not look too bright. They need to “harmonize” that locker room, or it will be another 10+ win season and out in the second round. That is good for lots of teams, but for this team, it is a failure w/ supposedly one of the top rosters in the league. Lastly, I applaud Brian for making the “inquiries” about this regime. Finally!!

      Reply
      • Uncle Bob

        Hopefully we all can swing back to the positive going forward, but for today, at least, keep licking some wounds. Here’s a quote attributed to JS at the end of the draft: “To move back, acquire our guy, and get more picks. That’s our biggest accomplishment.” Damn John, I’d feel a whole lot better if you said, with conviction, something like “We made our team much better this week.” Sigh………………………………

  6. cancunhawk

    I copied this from the seahawks web site, where they defend trading back in the drafts:
    In 2012, the Seahawks moved back from the 12th pick to No. 15, using that pick on Bruce Irvin and the extra two picks acquired from Philadelphia on Jeremy Lane and Jaye Howard.
    (Eagles took Fletcher Cox, much better player than Bruce Irvin)

    Seattle sent its 2013 first-round pick to Minnesota for Percy Harvin, (vikes took Xavier Rhodes with that pick) and also moved back from No. 56 to 62 in the second round before picking Christine Michael in the second round. (Eddy Lacy went to GB at #61, imagine the smash mouth team we could have had with Lacy & Lynch)

    In 2014, the Seahawks went from the back of the first round to pick No. 40, a trade that allowed them to land Cassius Marsh in the fourth round, then moved back again from 40 to 45 before picking Paul Richardson. (Doesnt seem like they missed much by moving back, perhaps T Joel Bitonio & I feel like Richardson will have a breakout year in 2017)

    Seattle’s 2015 first-round pick went to Minnesota, and last year the Seahawks moved back in the first round from 26 to 31 before picking Germain Ifedi. The Seahawks also landed Nick Vannett with the third-round pick they gained in that trade with Denver.

    I agree with Brian, better quality than quantity, it seems like the Hawks target 1 late first round pick & keep trading back if they think he’s falling. I agreed with trading the 26th pick, there were still 3 OL & good CBs, but was pissed when they traded the 31st, more so when SF grabs a possible impact LB & then watch the saints grab Ramczyk, ending a perfectly horrible first round. But that’s OK, we get 2nd pick round 2, just to watch the pack take Kevin King, Trading back is a good way to get depth players, just not impact players, something the hawks are beginning to lack

    Reply
  7. HD

    I would agree Seattle appeared to pass on some pretty good talent but I guess that’s why they do their job and I do mine. They seem to win a lot with their scheme. With that said having looked at their choices at secondary, which has been an area they have been pretty savvy in I am intrigued. This year was thick with talent in DB’s and Seattle may have really built their depth with their picks this year, though not the most marque of names . I really think Seattle’s plan is to build depth and and get a year of experience before the big turnover begins. I think you may see Rubin, Kearse, Chancellor, Sherman, Avril, Richardson and Willson exiting next year; Avril possibly in two. Seattle had depth in the secondary and the D line in 2013. They had an interior pass rush. It appears that Seattle is trying to built depth in the secondary, at RB, at WR and on both lines (and add an interior PR) I really think that the injury bug last year in the drafted hopefuls return, along with the FA, this years draft and existing talent is going to start moving in the right direction this year. The offensive line can only go up and by the way, I think the kid from LSU (Mayock top 5) can play RG besides center. The investment in safety is long overdue. That’s where Seattle missed the boat for years and it came to roost last year. Since Chancellors hold out safety has been troublesome for a couple years now. D Line has been patchwork (FA and Draft) with the exception of Clark; not so this year. I remember my 9 years in the Bay Area not always being enamored with Walsh’s picks (some were stinkers), and grabbing castoffs like Youngblood, Reynolds, Charlie Young, Fred Dean and others wondering what the hell. SF built their team piecemeal and invested in both lines as well as a secondary that was different from the rest of the league. When SF didn’t have a great year after the SB, the natives grew restless, only to return with some key talent additions in the Draft and some of the other picks start to mature in 82 and on. I see a lot of the same thing and doubt going on now in Seattle. I think Seattle got in more right than wrong the last 3 years of the draft, and the ROI is forthcoming.

    Reply
  8. Colin E Perceful

    I’m not so sure about quantity>quality either. I think we got some quality players but I thought for sure that we were accumulating those later draft picks to move up into the middle of the second or top of the third. I feel like we would have been better served to take Foster or King at #31 rather than trade back for an extra 4th. I feel we would have been better off to take Cam Robinson at #34 rather than pick up and an extra sixth rounder to spend on someone who likely won’t make the team. Robinson seemed like the last O-lineman that could compete for a starting position and not be another Cable project. We then could have gotten Awuzie at #58. I feel we possibly could have packaged a third and a 6th to move up and grab Melifonwu or Mcdowell or another D tackle in the middle of the second. I just don’t see why we drafted 11 when only 5-6 will make the team. Shouldn’t we just spend 5-6 picks on the players with the highest likelyhood to be Pro-bowlers and trade extra late round draft picks to teams that have more holes in their roster?

    I’ve come to trust PC and JS on account of the success they have brought to my beloved Seahawks franchise but it’s hard to see the logic sometimes. It’s getting harder to trust them since they haven’t drafted a pro bowl position player since Russell and seem to be less adept at identifying young talent since the days of PC being a new NFL head coach freshly removed from recruiting college kids. I pray they prove me wrong and this draft class reveals exceptional talent for the roster. In the meantime I remain skeptically optimistic.

    Reply
    • Hawk_Eye

      Tyler Locket made the pro bowl. Frank Clark will this year.

      Reply
  9. metel

    Brian good read and I agree with you and many of the commenters.

    …..Faith, is the belief with the absence of evidence….
    IMO the evidence is mounting for me in the direction I no longer have faith that the PC/JS regime…..

    In all likelihood we could fall asleep this year and win our division, but that doesn’t mean we are a good team, but it will be deemed as a successful season regardless.

    Regarding player evaluations…..PC/JS without the filter of guys like Scott McLaughlin and Dan Quinn, has become The Wheel of Fortune…John might be one of the best wheeler dealers in the league…but like in this draft he was so busy working on the trades, ‘what’ he was trading into got lost into the rabbit hole of getting value imo, while watching the real value walk to the next team…..
    Last season we witness the least amount of Take-ways in the last five years…(but I’m not convinced this is just ‘having the right players on the field’ and may just be a coaching strategy issue) …
    ….this draft was about as focused as you can get for ‘play makers’ regarding takeaways with deep positions on pass-rushers, corners and safeties…..we got one ‘what if’ guy with Mcdowell, while Jackson, Peppers, King, Obi, Foster,Takk, Baker, Jones, and many others seemed not on our board or ‘accordingly’ not within our reach….I think we’ll all look back on 2017 draft and go…ouch.

    Reply
  10. Spoiled Fans

    I have been a Seahawks fan since 1976. You don’t realize how good we have it. To have Pete Carroll as coach, John Schneider as GM & Russell Wilson as quarterback is a blessing. We need to be thankful & enjoy watching this team. When Russell is gone & this run is over, it will probably be a long, long time before this happens again. Trust me, I know…

    Reply

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