The Morning After: Trader Schneider Goes Supernova in Draft Day 2
We winced when looking at the Seahawks four total selections entering the 2019 NFL Draft. We joked about the certainty of John Schneider trading back to acquire additional selections. We knew that what he did with the 21st pick would have a significant impact on the near-future of this franchise. One day after criticizing the underwhelming return of two fourth round picks to trade back from 21 to 30 in the first round, I must bow at the feet of the master. Schneider took that 21st pick in the first round and turned it into two second round picks, two fourth round picks, and a fifth. That is not quite water into wine, but Schneider has proven draft deity once again.
Marquise Blair – Safety
Seattle has used two of those five picks so far on safety Marquise Blair and wide receiver D.K. Metcalf. I have been pretty consistent in stating the positions where the Seahawks roster priorities seemed to be. They needed pass rush on the defensive line, help at safety, and a top-end receiver.
It appears the front office had a similar read. I shared my thoughts on L.J. Collier in yesterday’s column. Blair plays like a strong safety, with a reputation for ferocious hitting and physical play that belies his 185 pound frame. Jim Nagy, a former Seahawks scout who now runs the Senior Bowl, was so ecstatic about the pick he took to Twitter to share that Blair screamed “Seahawks safety” the moment he watched film of him.
Blair has been ejected from multiple college games for targeting. Those would be personal foul penalties in the NFL. Kam Chancellor knows a thing or two about how to deliver a blow within the framework of the rule book and should be around to pass along some wisdom. The Seahawks coaching staff has also proven they can coach proper physical tackling.
Blair was considered by some to be a cornerback prospect. Carroll said he will start as a strong safety, but could “do some special things,” matching up in coverage. Knowing there is even the potential for him to be in the mix as slot corner adds more value to the pick.
The concern here is whether his body will allow him to play the same intimidating style in the NFL. He may need to add 10-15 pounds in order to stay healthy. He does have a history of knee issues, including some ligament repair in high school and college. Blair becomes the highest drafted safety (47th pick, Round 2) for Schneider since Earl Thomas was chosen in the first round in 2010.
One could argue that they really see a high ceiling for Blair and fans should be excited. The cynical argument would be that their two safety selections in round three of the 2016 draft, Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson, have yet to distinguish themselves. Look for some three safety personnel groupings that could mix and match two of Hill, Thompson, and Blair with certain starter Bradley McDougald.
D.K. Metcalf – Wide Receiver
Metcalf is certain to be the player creating the most buzz among Seahawks fans. The dude is a physical freak of nature who was the talk of the NFL Combine when at 6’3″ and 228 pounds, he ran a 4.33 40-yard dash, did 27 reps of 225 lbs on the bench press, had a 40.5″ vertical jump, and a 134″ broad jump.
Many expected those eye-popping athletic numbers would vault Metcalf into the first round. What likely kept him from going that high were the poor agility results in the 20 yard shuttle and 3-cone drills. The implication is that Metcalf is a one-trick pony who can run in a straight line really fast, but will struggle to unlock top-shelf production without accessing other parts of the route tree that require more lateral agility.
Seattle was more than happy to take that risk knowing that even if Metcalf’s floor is a split end deep threat who can out-muscle, out-leap, and out-run corners, they would have a weapon well-suited to work with the best deep ball passer in the NFL.
Metcalf also has clear contributions for those of us who still value the running game. Seattle asks their receivers to run block, and Metcalf could be dominant in that aspect of the position. Carroll touched on this in the press conference, specifically calling out the role Metcalf could play in the play action passing attack Seattle likes to feature and Russell Wilson excels at executing.
The floor for Metcalf seems like Ricardo Lockette. The ceiling is much, much higher. Don’t jump down my throat, but Metcalf’s best self may share some similarities to Calvin Johnson. He is one inch shorter, 10 pounds lighter, but has longer arms, a similar 40 time and vertical leap, and near Johnson’s broad jump. Johnson was a once-in-a-lifetime athlete who was capable of things Metcalf likely will never achieve. Johnson, though, made a significant portion of his living posting up corners deep down field and in the red zone. Metcalf could absolutely mimic that portion of his game.
Cody Barton – Linebacker
Schneider traded up to get Metcalf using the 77th and 118th picks that were obtained through the series of trades emanating from the 21st pick. They traded up again in the third round to move from 92 to 88 to select Cody Barton. None of the picks in that trade were related to the 21st pick trade tree.
Barton is a player most analysts had rated lower than the third round. He is an active and sure tackler, and can play all three linebacker spots. Carroll said he will start in the middle.
There is a (very) small part of me that wonders if the Seahawks were hedging against the possibility of letting Bobby Wagner walk next year and taking whatever comp pick they would receiver as a result. That seems very unlikely, but Barton seems best suited to be a wide-ranging middle linebacker.
Seattle has a couple of question marks at outside linebacker with K.J. Wright yet to prove he is able to play a full season of late and Mychal Kendricks facing an uncertain future for legal reasons. Most likely, Barton will serve as the Brock Coyle role of backing up at middle linebacker, available to step in at the other positions and ace special teams player.
Both Metcalf and Barton could be excellent special teams additions.
Schneider has not selected a linebacker this high since Wagner in the second round of the 2012 draft. In fact, Wagner was the only linebacker selected before round four through all of Schneider’s drafts. That indicates the team sees something special in him.
The Coyle compare establishes his floor, but Barton could become an answer at starting weakside linebacker or middle as soon as next season.
Seahawks Remaining Picks
Round 4: 114th overall
Round 4: 124th overall
Round 4: 132nd overall
Round 5: 142nd overall
Round 6: 209th overall
Round 7: None
Seattle heads into the final day of the draft with five picks remaining. It would not surprise me to see Schneider trade down one or two more times to accumulate some 7th round picks. Keep on eye on the Bengals who have a whopping five picks in the 7th round.