After seeming to drag like much of his team to the end of the 2017 season—his team's first without a playoff appearance in six years—Pete Carroll was back to his jumping, jiving self.
From the appearance he projected, the words he said and how he said them Thursday night, the Seahawks' coach was "jacked" over trading down in the first round of the NFL draft, as usual, by gaining two later picks and by selecting San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny.
Penny was the nation's leading rusher last season as a senior, with more than 2,200 yards and 23 rushing touchdowns. That's 22 more than Seattle's running backs combined to score in 2017.
Penny's pick came after Carroll and Schneider made the 55th trade involving a draft pick in their nine years running the Seahawks. They traded down nine spots, from 18 to 27, plus a seventh-round pick to Green Bay for the Packers' first-round choice plus one in the third round Friday and one in the sixth round on Saturday.
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Penny is only the second pick by the Seahawks in the first round in the last six years. They traded down out of the opening round in the others drafts.
Here's all the coach and GM said Thursday night, knowing they have eight picks remaining over the draft's final six rounds the next two days:
GM JOHN SCHNEIDER AND HEAD COACH PETE CARROLL
2018 NFL Draft Day One
April 26, 2018
(On their impressions of the first round of the 2018 draft…)
Schneider: “We’re super excited. We were able to move back and we’re really blessed that we were able to move back with Green Bay and fill a void in the sixth round and fill a void in the third round. Third-round pick is number 76 overall, it’s a really nice pick in our opinion. We still have a gap tomorrow, but we’re just really excited about [Rashaad] Penny. [He’s] a great kid, two brothers, played behind [Donnel] Pumphrey last year, split time with him and didn’t complain about not getting carries or as many carries as he would have wanted. [He’s] a dynamic kickoff returner, he’s returned seven career kickoffs and had two punt returns and took one to the house. [He has] incredible spatial awareness and we’re really excited.”
Carroll: “Speed, durability, humble. Probably the best part about this young man is that he’s humble. He’s ready to work. He’s probably already told you guys and you’ve probably already heard from him. Whatever we want, he’ll do. His special teams acumen is so unique, he’s really going to be able to help Tyler [Lockett] and help take the burden off of Tyler at times. He’ll compete for all of the return stuff which is great. He’s coming in here to compete and he knows that. We’re not just handing him the job, he has to come in here and battle which he’s ready to do. He’s such an excited player and he’s so versatile and dynamic that we know every time he gets his hands on the ball, he can score a touchdown. That’s in the running game and the passing game because he’s very gifted catching the football and running routes as well. We know that the running game helps every aspect of our team. It helps the defense, it helps our special teams and he will also be able to play in special teams and be a factor. That’s a really exciting pick and we can’t wait to get him here and get going and start fitting him in.”
(On how concerned they are about his production as the main running back due to not handling much of a load at San Diego State and his freshness…)
Schneider: “He’s had a couple years of production. He had 1,000 yards last year. That’s not a concern at all. He had some really interesting analytics and stats about him with durability, run after contact, run after first contact. He actually, of this group (of runningbacks), was number one in both categories.”
Carroll: “He hasn’t been overworked if that’s part of it. But he can still carry the load. His running game too is very similar to things that we do. He’s run some of the exact same plays so we’ve seen him run behind a fullback, we’ve seen him run downhill and the perimeter stuff. Everything just fit. It was a beautiful pick. There was another great runner in this draft, this is a fantastic draft for running backs and John has been showing us that throughout. But I don’t know if there was anyone better besides Saquon Barkley, who is an extraordinary player and that we haven’t seen a guy like that in years. And this guy is right there in his ability to make the explosive plays and make the extraordinary stuff happen. It’s really exciting. I think our fans will be pumped about this thing. I can’t wait to see him in the kicking game, but from the line of scrimmage as well. He’s going to be a really great threat and we’ll see how we fit him together, he’ll help Chris [Carson], he’ll help Russell [Wilson], he’ll be able to help all of our guys and we’ll fit it all together.”
(On if running back durability from the past few years played a role with drafting Penny…)
Carroll: “Absolutely. It was an important element in his makeup and background.”
(On what it was about Penny that made him stand out from other running backs in this draft…)
Schneider: “It’s a really good group. It really was. It was very hard to work through the process with these guys. There’s going to be some really good backs that go tomorrow as well. But I think just the fact that the guy doesn’t have quite as much wear and tear, he can score from anywhere on the field, great hands, people were a little concerned about his level of competition (in the conference) but he went down to the Senior Bowl and tore it up the whole week down there. Those guys were trying to compete their tails off at the Senior Bowl and he stepped right in there and acted like it wasn’t that big of a deal. I think when you get to know him, he’s like this really easy going, humble, just a really good person who was raised really well. Then he gets on the field and he has this swagger about him. It’s like he has several pupils. The guy has amazing eyes.”
Carroll: “He is also going to be a three down back for us and he can do everything. He needs to work on his pass protection which he was not asked to do a lot of. But he will give us the ability to play him on all downs and that versatility is really big.”
(On what it was about his presence that made him stand out…)
Schneider: “He’s a real down to earth and grounded kid. Like I said, he was never really outspoken about not getting as many touches behind Pumphrey last year as he would have liked. When he got his touches, it was like holy smokes, who is this guy? Because he was just ripping off. His demeanor is quite and he has this sparkle in his eye like he wants it.”
(On how big of a difference he can make in the run game…)
Carroll: “This is really the addition that we were hoping to factor in to this season. We like our running backs, it’s a good, young group of guys that are all going to be competing. This just gives us one more chance to make a really extraordinary, explosive impact. He can help us in the running game and he can run the ball inside and outside, he’s a downhill runner, he also has the ability to bounce the ball to the perimeter and take great advantage of that. Whether he’s cutting back or going front side, he’s got a special way about him. He has big play ability. That make such a difference when you’re defending us. We’ll figure out how he complements with the other fellas, but he’s going to bring something really explosive that’s going to be a great dynamic for our football team.”
(On if he’s a guy that you can plug and play…)
Carroll: “We have no question about that. He went to the Senior Bowl and did all the stuff there too. He learns really well and it makes sense to him. But he has truly run a lot of stuff that we want to run with him. That’s great in the evaluation. He’s also been a shotgun runner at times too, we’ve seen the moves and the cuts that he needs to show us for that stuff that we like to do and that’s a big way to include Russell’s factor. No limitations. There’s no limitations.”
Schneider: “He knows his game too. He’s a kid who knows who he is and he knows what his game is. He knows he has a lot of work to do in pass protection and he’s been adamant about that. He knows that he has to get to work on that.”
(On how they decided to choose Penny at 27…)
Schneider: “We would’ve taken him at 18. That’s why we feel super blessed. Whenever you move back, people are always like ‘you can always move back’. But it’s a pretty hard thing to do. You have to find a partner, we had several people walk away from us. We felt really blessed that Green Bay hung in there with us and really a true rarity is that we had a team call after we selected him and tried to acquire him. I’ve never experienced that. We feel very blessed tonight.”
(On having a team try and trade for Penny after the Seahawks selected him…)
Schneider: “Yeah isn’t that cool?”
(On if they focused more on character attributes in draft picks this year…)
Carroll: “I think this time of year, we’re always trying to stay close to the core of who we are. There’s never been a year I’ve ever coached in football where that isn’t one of the most important elements of the players on the team that you have. The opportunity to find a guy who has some of his world kind of squared away and knows who he is. I think it just gives us one more chance to be that much closer to who we want to be. I don’t think any more than any other time. I know what you’re getting at, I think it’s just that we wanted to return and make sure that we know who we are and who we want to be. The running game is a big part of that. This is really a connection in many ways that really fits the bill for us.”
(On if the value of running backs has evolved in the draft…)
Schneider: “It just fluctuates based on the year really. There’s certain trends that happen all the time. This year’s group was unique because there’s really good runners all the way through. So it’s like, these guys are really talented runners and where do you start taking them because you know that you can get some guys later. There was a number of teams that probably had these guys rated really highly, but felt like we should go in direction A and then go in B a little bit later on because we can still get a runner.”
(On if their focused narrowed on running backs with new coaches in Schottenheimer and Solari…)
Carroll: “I don’t know if it narrowed our focus, I don’t know if that’s the right way to say it, but we’re all on board in terms of what we’re trying to get done and [Schottenheimer] has a great background, he’s done a lot of things and he has the ability to structure stuff that’s going to fit our style of guys. It just so happens that how we would like to go, Rashaad fits right in to it. I don’t think that there’s anything special about that, but I do think that it will be a nice fit and he’s really excited about being a three-down guy. Some of the best guys in the league are guys that can play on first down, second down, third down and you’re not tipping your hand because you’re only bringing in a third down guy while you have a first and second down guy. Fortunately, Chris [Carson] is in that same mold. He can play all three downs too and we know that when we saw C.J. [Prosise] healthy, he could also. It gives us a really good, competitive room. I’m tickled about this and I think it’s going to be exciting for everybody. Our coaches, our fans and our players in the locker room. To see how we can mix this thing together and how we can make it a great aspect to our team.”
(On how important it was to get some second and third round picks…)
Schneider: “Extremely important. It was very important.”
(On if it’s a priority to get a pick between 33 and 76 tomorrow…)
Schneider: “Always. We’re constantly working at it. We had a number of things going on right down here at the end. We have an awesome, awesome staff in there and everybody has their responsibilities. They have their teams and we’ve been doing it together for several years so people can go from this team to that team to that team. The room is very well organized in terms of where we have several different boards. I’m very visual so we can see what’s going on over here and what’s going on with different teams over here.”
(On if they got a sense of Penny’s reaction through the phone call…)
Carroll: “He sounded pretty emotional. I haven’t seen the video but he deserves that. He earned that.”
(On how close they were to trading back further in the first round or second round…)
Schneider: “We definitely think about that stuff all the time. It’s like you’re moving through this thing constantly toeing those. They’re just rounds and honestly, they’re just numbers all the way through. You don’t really think about how I need to select this person in this round. This is entertainment (on the first night during round one), they had the red carpet out there for crying out loud. This is all entertainment tonight. It’s important for us all the time to be thinking about if we’re going to go back and then you move up because you’re trying to acquire as many people because your board and your board is like a big map.”
Carroll: “I’ll say it like this, we were very active in that pick. We had all kinds of stuff going on. I can’t tell you what it was or who it was or any of that. John, like he said, his guys were working. There was some options and choices and we did what we needed to do. But when your pick comes up, that’s kind of what it is. There’s phone calls and phones ringing and phones going and choices and all of that. And John has done a fantastic job over the years. Like he said, his guys are so grooved at it, they’re so tight and connected that they can handle it all, we exhausted every opportunity, which there was numerous opportunities and we did what we did. We’re really fired up about all of it, not just the player that we got, but we did fill those spots and we’re cranked up and ready to go for tomorrow. We’re going to do everything we can tomorrow too. We’re going to do everything we can tomorrow and compete at every turn. It’s just the way that we’re structured.”
Schneider: “But it’s a great question because when you have those gaps it’s hard. We had the one and then we didn’t have those two in the second in the third. It’s hard.”
(On if there’s anything notable about how the new coaching staff works with the scouting department…)
Carroll: “When we started, we made the decision that we weren’t going to be the football guys and the personnel guys. We were going to blend and make sure there were dynamics within all of our guys so that we could best benefit from the strengths that everyone has by having a connection and a relationship that our guys can just totally blend together. That’s to maximize what everybody offers. That’s what we’ve done from the start of this. I don’t know how other people do it, but it’s a beautiful illustration throughout the last week and the last few days. There were rooms throughout the building where guys were working on special projects and guys were choosing personnel guys and the lights were off and everybody was working to figure stuff out. That’s just been the mentality for the entire organization and it really isn’t illustrated any more clearly than it is in this regard. Everybody is in on it. John and I respect everyone and we’re there for everybody’s opinions and then we figure it out and away we go. The analytics and the sports science guys are involved more than ever and all of that works together. It’s a real simple thought, we’re competing and the only way to compete is to use everybody’s strengths. And then we have to figure it out when the time comes how we do it. It’s really a beautiful synergy and it’s done really well and it’s what’s giving us a chance to continue to be successful. It’s a cool thing and it’s fun as hell. We had a blast tonight. It was really cool.”
(On how confident they were that they could trade back in the draft…)
Schneider: “I wasn’t. I was talking to Coach Holmgren about it this afternoon. He had stopped in to wish us good luck on our thing and I was talking to him about how everyone thinks you’re going to move back and it’s so easy. The board has to start falling a certain way and you have to have certain people that want to give up and that want to come with us. Where Green Bay came from is a long way. From 27 to 18. We weren’t confident.”
Carroll: “You don’t know. You don’t know until it happens and until the card is in place and called in. That’s what makes it exciting.”
(On John’s ability to know when to trade back and how far to trade back…)
Carroll: “It’s that experience and that savvy and everything. Without John’s ability to sense how that is kind of going and read the tea leaves and all that, we couldn’t do that kind of stuff. He’s got to have a feel for it and I totally trust in his expertise in that regard. When we’re looking at if is this right or is this not, it helps. We’re lucky that we got him.”