You’re by now familiar with the ways in which the media come along after the annual NFL draft and grade the efforts of general managers such as the Seahawks’ John Schneider.
What you probably didn’t know was that Schneider does the same thing. To himself.
“If you’re talking about critiquing yourself and grading yourself, we do that all the time.” Schneider said. “Right after the draft, we go through and put a grade on all of the players that were drafted and where they were drafted. Then you kind of go back to it in a couple years, three years, and say, ‘All right, well, maybe we didn’t spend as much time here’ or, ‘Maybe we didn’t do as good of a job with linebackers.’ ”
Neither the media nor Schneider have much to go on at this point. He has been co-honcho with coach Pete Carroll for two drafts, with the third getting underway this evening.
As he looks back, he says his biggest mistakes as a personnel evaluator have come when he finds himself comparing a prospect to an established player he’s appreciated.
“It’s a hard trap not to fall into,” he said. “But you can’t do that because you don’t know what’s truly in a man’s heart.”
No, John, but who among us does?
No GM would cop to his hits and misses after only two seasons, but we can make some general conclusions, and speculate on what Schneider sees as he re-evaluates his effort.
Of the 18 Seahawks drafted in 2010 and 2011, 16 made the team, seven earned starting spots and two – safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor – earned Pro Bowl honors.
Draft-involved trades brought the Seahawks running backs Marshawn Lynch and Leon Washington. Choices also were given up for little-used backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst.
In all, it’s a strong effort that has made the Seahawks one of the youngest teams in the league.
But of those 16 draft picks to stick, seven of them finished last season on the injured-reserve list. And five of those were among picks taken in Rounds 1 through 4: Russell Okung, Walter Thurmond, James Carpenter, John Moffitt and Kris Durham.
Thurmond had severe knee issues at Oregon, but the three offensive linemen on that list were appealing prospects, in part, because of their record of unwavering durability.
Okung started 47 straight games at Oklahoma State. Carpenter played two seasons at Alabama, starting all 27 games. Moffitt started 42 out of 45 games at Wisconsin.
Okung tore a pectoral muscle when he was thrown on a dirty play away from the ball, and Carpenter destroyed a knee in a reasonably mild pass-blocking drill during a practice without pads.
You can’t very well dock Schneider points for those twists of fate. Grade on those: Unlucky.
Schneider must examine the opportunity costs of some of his picks, though. The Whitehurst deal dropped the Seahawks from 40th to 60th in the second round in 2010, where they took Notre Dame receiver Golden Tate.
Tate had the kind of big-play ability Carroll and Schneider dearly love, but he has taken time to adapt and didn’t show steady advancement until late last season.
Moving out of the 40th spot, though, meant having no shot at a huge target at 42: Arizona tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has almost redefined the position by scoring 30 touchdowns in two seasons with New England.
And last spring, Schneider admired TCU quarterback Andy Dalton, but took Carpenter with the 25th pick. Dalton went to the Bengals with the 35th pick and ended up in the Pro Bowl. Carpenter’s knee injury was so significant his rehabilitation could affect his availability early this season, too.
Even with the injuries, Schneider’s picks look so promising compared to the list of stunning first-round futility from 2004-09 (Marcus Tubbs, Chris Spencer, Kelly Jennings, Deion Branch trade, Lawrence Jackson and Aaron Curry) that left the Seahawks without a strong core of talent.
As he enters the 2012 draft tonight, perhaps Schneider should not try to look into the players’ hearts … but into their knee joints.