Analyzing the Seahawks’ options in the 2019 NFL Draft
First, it was grinding through negotiations on the richest contract in NFL history, for Russell Wilson.
At the same time, the Seahawks were (and are) fielding trade offers for top pass rusher Frank Clark in case one blows them away. That’s while they continue talks to try to get their defensive end a top-of-the-market extension by a summer deadline to do so.
Don’t forget about Bobby Wagner. The Seahawks haven’t. Their All-Pro linebacker needs a new deal, too. His current one ends this year.
And, oh, yeah, here comes the draft.
It’s been easy to overlook around here with all that general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll have going on, but the NFL draft begins Thursday. Seattle has the 21st-overall pick in round one.
“Our guys are all upstairs right now,” Schneider said during Wednesday’s press conference to announce the Wilson deal. “We’re in the middle of draft meetings, draft preparations. We were doing that all.”
The work’s not nearly done.
This year’s draft is being held in Nashville, Tenn. Round one is Thursday beginning at 5 p.m. Rounds two and three start Friday at 4 p.m. Rounds four through seven are Saturday starting at 9 a.m.
Here’s are four moves to look for the Seahawks — and the rest of the NFL — to make:
Seahawks trading down
They almost always do. At least under Carroll and Schneider.
They’ve made 23 trades involving draft choices in their nine years together.
They’ve traded their first-round choice in seven consecutive years, twice for veteran players (Percy Harvin and Jimmy Graham) and five times down to collect more draft picks. In 2017, they traded down twice within, then out of, round one. That netted four extra selections.
If there was ever a draft Seattle will trade down, it’s this one.
The Seahawks have but four selections right now — round one (21st overall), three (84th), four (124th) and five (159th). That’s the result of previous trades, including sending their second-round pick for this year to Houston to get Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown two seasons ago.
Schneider’s so stung by not having a second-round pick this year he’s had a Duane Brown sticker on Seattle’s draft board in the space where the team’s second-round choice would go.
“It’s a challenge,” Schneider said, “but it’s exciting. It’s what we do. Our guys do a great job on draft of working our relationships around the league and then we’re trying to navigate where we’re going throughout the draft and targeting players and moving along.
“We don’t necessarily have to go (trade) down all the time. But it’s kind of fun.”
Yes, here’s a better chance of Wilson pitching this summer to help out that Mariners’ bullpen than of Schneider not making a trade, or three, to gain more picks.
Asked what the chances are Seattle will end the draft having chosen only four players, Schneider said: “I hope it’s slim, yeah.”
But it takes two teams to make a trade. And if the other one knows Seattle almost has to trade down the foe should hold the leverage in shaping the quality of the deal. Plus, draft deals usually don’t happen ahead of the event but on the fly, in the 10- or 5-minute span—or less—teams have between picks. As the draft proceeds teams seek to jump up and take guys they want before they are gone.
“Everybody’s like, ‘Well, they always like to go back.’ You have to find a partner,” Schneider said this month on Seattle’s KIRO-AM radio. “You have to negotiate within a specific amount of time.
“So it’s not like an easy thing just to move back.”
Plus, at 21, the Seahawks could have players they scout as first-round talent still available. That rarely has happened with how late into round one Seattle’s owned picks in this decade.
But, hey, the NFL has already announced former Seahawks’ Super Bowl running back Shaun Alexander is going to announce Seattle’s second-round choice in this draft.
So the Seahawks must be adding one, right?
Four trading up?
Who are Seattle’s most likely trading partners?
The Raiders are everybody’s potential trading partner. They own three first-round picks. Two of those selections are after the Seahawks’ choice at 21. But because the Raiders don’t own multiple picks again until the seventh round, the Seahawks would need to entice the Raiders to deal their only choice in round two, at 35th overall, to replenish Seattle’s missing second-round pick that way.
Seattle could trade down with Oakland, stay in the first round, then trade down again to get more picks from the stacked Patriots. In yet another case of the rich—namely Bill Belichick—getting richer, the Super Bowl champions have a league co-leading 12 choices in this draft.
Schneider knows two of the Patriots’ selections are in the second round, at 56th and 64th overall.
The New York Giants also have 12 picks. Five of the Giants’ choices are in rounds four and five.
The Eagles are scheduled to pick behind the Seahawks’ choice in the the first round, at 25. They have two picks in the second round, at 53rd and 57th overall.
Philadelphia needs offensive linemen, in particular tackles, with Jason Peters now 37 years old. Offensive tackles tend to go in bunches in round one. If one the Eagles love is still on the board when it’s Seattle’s turn at 21, Schneider could call Philadelphia.
The Patriots own three selections in round three, including a compensatory one at the end of the round that teams can now trade by recent NFL rule change. New England has four picks in the seventh round, when the Seahawks have none.
The Packers, Giants and Eagles are among eight teams that have two picks in the fourth round.
The Browns and Giants each own three selections in round five. New York’s are the fourth and fifth choices at the top of the fifth round.
QBs shaping first round
Watch for the trickle-down effect. Once one top passer goes, teams picking below get desperate and either take more quarterbacks in succession or trade up to do it.
This year the quarterback drama will begin with the first overall pick.
Arizona owns that. One year after drafting QB Josh Rosen at the top of the first round, the Cardinals have a new boy-wonder coach, Kliff Kingsbury. The former Texas Tech head coach and quick-passing orchestrator didn’t draft Rosen. And Kingsbury has a system that would perfectly fit Kyler Murray, last season’s Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma.
If the Cardinals pick Murray, as many expect, they seemingly would trade Rosen to a QB-needy team, perhaps the Giants or Broncos. That, in turn, would push other top quarterbacks in this draft class (Dwayne Haskins from Ohio State, Drew Lock from Missouri, Daniel Jones of Duke) down in round one. In that scenario, the second QB may not get drafted until past the Giants at six, or Denver at 10.
If that happens, the Seahawks may have QB-curious teams drafting below them (the Chargers? Philip Rivers is now 37; the Giants and Broncos within the top 10 of round two?) calling trying to move up to get a passer.
The Seahawks could still be getting calls from quarterback-needy teams if the Cardinals keep Rosen and don’t draft Murray. Murray could then slide down to sixth to the Giants, or 10th to Denver. The run on QBs would start later, and fall toward Seattle.
Edge rushers are hot
The other position group that causes this phenomenon early in drafts is pass rushers. Every team likely has a sack man or three at the top of its draft board, including Seattle. The Seahawks need another to pair with Clark.
This draft is deep in elite pass rushers.
Two of the top three picks in the latest mock draft by NFL draft guru and Tacoma man Rob Rang are pass rushers: Nick Bosa of Ohio State at second overall to San Francisco — after Murray to Arizona at No. 1 — and Ed Oliver from the University of Houston to the Jets at three. Rang also has Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen going at eight, to Detroit.
Quarterbacks and pass rushers will be the guys that get run on early and often. They are likely to shape who trades with whom early on.