The Morning After: Seahawks True to Form in Round 1 2019 NFL Draft
It was not hard to predict what John Schneider and the Seahawks were going to do on the first day of the NFL draft. They entered with two first round selections for the first time since 2010, but just five picks overall. Schneider typically wants at least nine selections in each draft, and that is exactly how many he exited the night with after making two trades back. There is little doubt the Seahawks front office believes quantity of selections is more important than grabbing a specific player. The results of this philosophy have been mixed over their time here, and they will face similar scrutiny if names like Darnell Savage, Montez Sweat, Jonathan Abram and Jerry Tillery become blue chip players.
Seattle wound up selecting L.J. Collier, a defensive lineman who can play edge and inside, and also someone who few analysts had projected to be a first round pick. That, too, is the Seahawks way. I worry less about them picking players analysts value differently as the team knows their scheme, personnel and fit better than anyone. They have also earned some faith in going against the grain.
Defensive line, in particular, has been a pretty solid position group for this front office over the past three or four years.
If you narrow that further to look at defensive linemen selected in the first two rounds under Pete Carroll and Schneider, you get Malik McDowell, Jarran Reed, Frank Clark, and Bruce Irvin. We will never know what McDowell could have been on the football field, but even hitting on three of four is a good rate.
Add in the third round, and you get Jordan Hill, Naz Jones, and Rasheem Green. Again, pretty solid talent evaluations for that point in the draft.
Collier is a guy who does not jump off the page from an athletic profile perspective. He does pop when you watch him play. His hands are powerful and effective. His get-off is explosive, and his ability to overpower is promising as an interior rusher.
Seattle talks about him as a 5-technique defensive end, which is more competition for Green, Quinton Jefferson, and Jones, who the team has moved from tackle to end. This might be another reason to think Green could get snaps at LEO.
Moving to a Green and Collier duo as base defensive ends would be an interesting change for Carroll who tends to prefer long, twitchy LEOs like Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril.
The potential upside would be having stronger edges against the run, an area the Seahawks struggled with last season. Both Green and Collier are probably best-suited rushing from the inside. That could make for a nice interior rush rotation of Jarran Reed, Collier, and Green.
You then have players like Jacob Martin, Cassius Marsh, and Nate Orchard on the edge. That’s a thin group. The team absolutely needs to add more speed edge rushers in the next two days of the draft.
It would not surprise me at all if the Seahawks had hoped Tillery or Sweat would fall to them at #29. Tillery has a lot of the 3-technique measureables Seattle likes with length and height and a great motor. That he went one slot before might have left the Seahawks with a guy they likely had a round two grade on.
Sweat is the name many Seahawks fans were hoping would fall to Seattle. He did, but the Seahawks traded back and lost the chance to pick him when he was selected with the 26th pick. Sweat has extreme athletic potential on the order of Danielle Hunter. There were some medical concerns with his heart that likely impacted where he was picked.
There is a lot of research that supports the Seahawks strategy to trade back and lean on quantity of picks to give themselves the best chance to find talent. I continue to believe the team slants too far in that direction and would be wise to stick and pick more often in the first round.
The 21st pick did not net as much as most would hope. Seattle added two fourth round picks from the Packers for moving back nine spots in the first round. My preference would be that the team would only move back when they have an offer clearly superior to the value they already have.
In this case, what the Packers gave the Seahawks was worth 744 points according to the draft value chart. The 21st pick is worth 800 points. That difference of 56 points is the equivalent of a fourth round pick. That is a big gap in value.
Schneider was clearly feeling pressure to repopulate his draft board and took the best deal he was offered. I just don’t think acquiring picks at all costs is the right way to go. Had it been a third and fourth, that would have made sense. Without that, take the best player on your board at 21 and work with what you can get for the 29th pick. You may wind up with fewer overall selections, but have a better chance to find blue chip players.
It was no shock they also moved the 30th pick to acquire a second round pick and two more choices. Seattle will have the fifth pick on day two today, and there are plenty of good players still available.
Don’t be surprised if they use their four fourth round picks to move up in the draft and get another third or second. They currently have three selections in the top 100. I’d like to see them have at least four.
We know they need an edge rusher. The other priorities have to be receiver and safety. If they find a great corner, that would be exciting to see as well.
The first round has rarely been where Schneider makes his mark. Day one was predictable and a bit underwhelming. Day two and three of the draft will define this draft class, and there is reason to be hopeful the team can restock.