Draft grades are bad. They’re usually just a too soon regurgitation of the writer’s pre-draft player evaluations. Draft grades are also basically mandatory, since everyone loves the draft and there’s vanishingly little to talk about at this point in the offseason. So let’s recap what Seattle did over the weekend and see why I gave them an A on the podcast.
I want to avoid basing too much of my grade on player evals, which even the best scouts frequently get wrong, so I’m going to break the draft down by position and look at how Seattle’s selection fit in terms of roster construction. But before we can talk about the picks they made, we need to talk about how the Seahawks got most of those picks.
Seattle trades pick 21 to Green Bay for pick 30, pick 114, and pick 118.
Seattle trades pick 30 to the New York Giants for pick 37, pick 132, and pick 142.
Seattle trades pick 37 to Carolina for pick 47 and pick 77.
Seattle trades pick 77 and pick 118 to New England for pick 64.
Seattle trades pick 92 and 159 to Minnesota for pick 88 and pick 209.
Seattle trades pick 114 to Minnesota for pick 120 and pick 204.
Seattle trades a 2020 6th round pick to Oakland for pick 236.
Wow! That’s a lot of trades! Brian did an excellent job summarizing this all up in a single graphic, which I’m going to steal.
The common way to determine the winners and losers in draft trades is by using the Jimmy Johnson trade value chart. The chart was created in the early 90s and, while it’s still a useful tool, is a bit antiquated at this point. There are several iterations of this chart now, with the AV based trade chart developed by Chase Stuart being one of the more popular. You can see both charts listed here.
I say all this because there is some disagreement between the charts on a few of Seattle’s trades. While both the AV and JJ charts loved the trade with Carolina for Seattle, with Seattle netting a late third round pick in surplus value according to both, they’re split on Seattle’s trade back from 21. According to Jimmy Johnson, came out with -56 points from the trade. That’s roughly a mid-fourth round pick. But according to AV, the Seahawks came out 6.3 points to the good. Roughly a late third round pick in their favor. The charts have a similar disagreement about Seattle’s second trade, though to a lesser degree.
Different people will have different opinions on this, but John and Pete clearly felt that they were willing to pay a premium to add extra picks. Both of these trades were 1 for 3 deals and Seattle just wanting to load up on volume makes sense considering they entered the draft with just 4 picks. These extra picks also gave Seattle the flexibility to move up for players like DK Metcalf while still hauling in 11 players.
Considering the draft is a gamble and scouting success more closely resembles batting averages than completion percentages, I’m very supportive of this approach. Teams just aren’t that good at identifying who will be a productive player at the next level so buying as many lottery tickets as possible makes sense. And if you believe the AV trade chart, Seattle was winning these trades outright and by more than a little. It was a fantastic job by the Seahawks front office.
With Russell Wilson locked in for several more years, Seattle’s need was only at backup quarterback. Compared to other needs on the roster it’s understandable that Seattle didn’t prioritize the position, but it was a bit surprising that they passed on it completely. They also missed out on some of the bigger name UDFAs, like Tyree Jackson and Brett Rypien. In reality though, Lynch, as bad as he is, is still likely better than any of the QBs taken after Will Grier and Ryan Finley. So it’s a bit of a missed opportunity, but a small one.
Travis Homer (6th)
While running back was maybe the lowest position of need for Seattle, it’s not hard to see a path to the 53 man roster for Travis Homer. Prosise is oft injured, McKissic saw little playing time last year and recently was reclassified as a return specialist on the Seahawks official roster, and Scarbrough was a 7th round rookie who bounced around on three different teams last year. And Homer’s a pretty interesting player who has the speed and quickness you’d expect from his size but the toughness of a larger back. It’s a pretty pure BPA selection that ignores the importance and depth of the position but, at the bottom of the sixth round, it’s hard to complain too much.
DK Metcalf (2nd)
Gary Jennings (4th)
John Ursua (7th)
Jazz Ferguson (UDFA)
Delane Hart-Johnson (UDFA)
Terry Wright (UDFA)
Even before the news broke about Doug Baldwin’s likely retirement, WR was a position of serious need. Seattle was aggressive in addressing it not just by taking 3 receivers, but by trading up for Metcalf and then using a 2020 6th round pick to trade back into the 7th round and select John Ursua. They then signed Jazz Ferguson as an UDFA, a player many expected to be drafted.
So it’s all good from a roster construction perspective but there is, as with all draft picks, quite a bit of risk with the players Seattle took. For as physically impressive as Metcalf is, he just wasn’t a very productive player in college. Metcalf caught 39 balls for 646 yards as a redshirt freshman and 26 balls for 569 yards in his redshirt sophomore season which was was cut short by a neck injury. That was Metcalf’s second season ending injury, his first being a foot injury that ended his freshman season after just two games.
Jennings has neither the production or health questions of Metcalf but has similar skill set limitations without having nearly the physical profile of Metcalf. Jennings 3 cone was actually worse than Metcalf’s and that lack of agility isn’t hard to see on tape. He’s still one of the better athletes in the class with plenty of size and speed, but may never develop into much more than a deep ball specialist.
Ursua is the exact opposite of Jennings and Metcalf: Undersized, overaged, and lightning quick. He put up monster stats for Hawai’i last season catching 89 balls for 1,343 yards and 16 touchdowns, but was plagued by drops.
But again, all draft picks have pros and cons. The big takeaway here is that Seattle aggressively pursued talented players at a position of significant need. This was a highlight of the draft.
Mik’Quan Dean (UDFA)
Justin Johnson (UDFA)
Tight end was arguable a position of some need, depending on how comfortable you are with Dissly returning from a torn patellar tendon. The Seahawks appear to feel good about his recovery, opting to forego drafting a tight end and instead adding two UDFAs and trading a conditional 2020 7th rounder to the Patriots for Jacob Hollister. It’s an unimpressive group, but remember that Seattle fielded a strong offense despite missing Dissly and Dickson for 19 combined games.
James Moore (UDFA)
Phil Haynes (4th)
Demetrius Knox (UDFA)
Lo Falemaka (UDFA)
It still feels weird to say, but offensive line was not a position of any significant need. It’s a balanced, flexible, and deep group. Tackle specifically is one of the lowest needs on the roster. Brown was second team all pro last year, Ifedi showed growth under Solari’s tutelage, and Fant and Jones providing depth.
There are some questions at guard, with Fluker, Iupati, and Simmons each having extensive injury histories. There are also questions about the future of Justin Britt and Ethan Pocic. Britt is nearing the end of his contract and due to be paid more than he’s likely worth. Pocic has been bad.
Seattle ended up taking only one offensive lineman, Phil Haynes in the 4th round. Solari seems to like big bodied guard with some length and Haynes more or less fits the bill at 6’2, 322lbs, and 33.5 inch arms. Not surprisingly, Haynes makes his name as a nasty finisher in the run game. He’ll need to make some strides as a pass protector to be a valuable contributor but it won’t be a surprise if he takes advantage of an injury and ends the season as a regular starter.
Demarcus Christmas (6th)
Bryan Mone (UDFA)
Jay-Tee Tiuli (UDFA)
Jeremy Faulk (UDFA)
Entering the draft, Pete Carroll talked about wanting to add another run stuffing defensive tackle. It’s not clear that they filled that need by taking Christmas, a 299lb tackle they plan on playing at 3tech. Christmas doesn’t have many strengths that jump out at you and Pete’s only real comment about Christmas in the post-draft press conference was that he added some girth. Seattle may still need to dip into free agency to bolster this group.
Considering all of that, I’m left wondering whether they should have simply taken Ursua instead and saved themselves the sixth round pick next year.
L.J. Collier (1st)
Logan Tago (UDFA)
Pass rush was considered a need for Seattle long before Frank Clark was traded to Kansas City. That need, combined with an early run on defensive lineman, may have caused Seattle to panic a little and reach for Collier at the end of the first round. Collier is a good player but has some physical limitations that leave many wondering what his ceiling can be.
James Thomas has a great breakdown of those strengths and weaknesses in this thread.
So Collier was a reach but an understandable one. The bigger surprise to many is that Seattle didn’t go back to the well and try to find another pass rusher. They certainly had opportunities, passing on players like Chase Winovich, Oshane Ximines, Maxx Crosby, Christian Miller, and D’andre Walker. No one was going to replace Clark right away, and each of those later round ends had their share of warts. But I think many expected Seattle to buy a few more lottery tickets, similar to the approach they took at wide receiver.
That said, it’s not crazy for Seattle to feel comfortable with the end group they have. They’ve already stated they expect to add another player through free agency, so more help could be on the way. They also have young talent that they can hope to see growth from. Martin was productive as a rookie, and Green still has load of talent they’ll try to coach up. And Jackson and Marsh are both capable rotational pieces.
Seattle is unlikely to put together one of the better pass rushing units this season, but maybe they don’t need much more than an average group.
Cody Barton (3rd)
Ben Burr-Kirven (5th)
Noah Dawkins (UDFA)
Linebacker was not a group with an immediate need but, similar to guard, there are both injury and long term questions about the position. KJ Wright is aging, on a two year deal, and suffered a knee injury that limited him to just 5 games last season. Kendricks was a strong performer last year, but his legal issues are not yet resolved. And while many fans don’t want to think about it, Bobby is entering the final year of his contract and reaching an age where linebackers begin to experience significant declines.
With all of those questions, it makes sense for Seattle to be proactive in addressing them. And Barton and Burr-Kirven are two exciting players. Both players are good athletes, with particularly impressive times in the agility drills. Barton has more of a prototypical build at 6’2, 235lbs, and is an excellent tackler capable of stopping players in their tracks.
BBK racked up an incredible 176 tackles last season, using his quickness and instincts to find his way to the ball carrier on most plays. At the very least, Burr-Kirven should be a quality special teams player and could find his way into the starting lineup within a few years.
Derrek Thomas (UDFA)
Davante Davis (UDFA)
The Seahawks appear to have a significant need at nickel corner with the departure of Justin Coleman. They could also use some additional competition for Griffin, Flowers and King, who are each promising but not yet proven players. The disappointment of not addressing any of those needs in the draft is cut a bit by the additions of Derrek Thomas and Davante Davis in undrafted free agency. Both players fit the mold for Seahawks boundary corners and add some talented competition for the bottom of the roster.
A lot is riding on the development of King and Reed. King played well in limited snaps last year, but still has much to prove. Reed fits the athletic profile of a nickel corner but has had next to zero playing time so far. Seattle is very particular about their corners and have had a lot of success developing unknowns in the past, so I’m inclined to give them the benefit of doubt. But this group combined with their pass rushers could end up being a major issue in 2019.
Marquise Blair (2nd)
Ugo Amadi (4th)
Jalen Harvey (UDFA)
Tedric Thompson and Delano Hill have yet to show any indication that they can be depended on as starters, and Bradley McDougald is 28 and will be a free agent again after next season. That makes safety a pretty big need for Seattle. They appear to agree with that assessment, spending their second pick in the draft on Marquise Blair and then grabbing Amadi late in the fourth round.
Without putting too many expectations on him, it’s fair to say Blair is kind of a Baby Kam Chancellor. He doesn’t have nearly Kam’s size but he flies around the field and is a big time hitter. He’s probably my personal favorite pick of the draft but it’s a little disappointing that he’s expected to play strong safety. That’s probably best for him but between the two safety positions, free safety was the much bigger need. Blair has the potential to play either spots and Pete likes to ask his safeties to do a little of both, but it would have been nice if Seattle had found someone that was more of a true Earl replacement early in the draft.
Instead, Seattle waited until the fourth round to grab Amadi. Ugo was a versatile player for Oregon, playing nickel corner and safety. With nearly 32 inch arms I’m not ruling Amadi out of the nickel corner competition, but Carroll has said that Amadi’s going to first be asked to play free safety. I see a lot of similarities between Amadi and Thompson, so that makes sense. Hopefully Amadi works out a little better.
As of right now, I think there are two aspects of the draft that we can confidently grade Seattle on: the trades and how well they addressed their needs, both short and long term. For the former, Seattle did a fantastic job. Seattle added 7 additional picks in 2019, highlighted by what worked out to be two additional second round picks, and a second round pick in 2020. Those trades also gave them the flexibility to move up and get players they liked on day 2. It was a masterful job by Schneider and the trades alone warrant a high grade for the Seahawks.
There are some questions about how well Seattle did from a roster construction perspective, but overall they did a good job here as well. Obviously, many expected them to do more to address the pass rush. Only taking Collier, who is somewhat limited as a pass rusher, was an underwhelming response to maybe the biggest need on the roster. Seattle also passed completely on corners. For me, the biggest question mark on the roster is at nickel corner and, barring a change of plans for Amadi, Seattle did nothing to try to address it.
The Seahawks did major work to shore up other areas of the roster instead. Wide receiver needed an infusion of talent and it got it in spades. They added quality depth at both linebacker and safety, with potential starters in Blair and Barton ready to replace aging vets who have contracts expiring in the next couple years. Haynes adds some stability to a group of guards that is deep but injury prone and without a clear longterm answer at either spot. And while they did not draft any corners, the two UDFAs that were added should be serious contenders for a roster spot.
We’ll see what any of these players become. Few were familiar names and many were expected to go later than Seattle took them. But that’s par for the course for this team and it’s easy to see where and how these guys will be successful. Only time will tell what these players will become but Seattle’s approach left little to complain about.