TNT’s Gregg Bell on why Seahawks traded down twice, took DE L.J. Collier in round one of NFL draft
The biggest coup among all the Seahawks did on the first day of the NFL draft?
Getting right back into the action at the start of day two.
Moments after Seattle used the pick it got from Kansas City in this week’s trade of top pass rusher Frank Clark—selecting motivated TCU defensive end L.J. Collier at 29 in round one—the Seahawks appeared to exploit the New York Giants’ desire to get back into the first round. During a frantic 20 minutes of phone calls and weighing options Thursday night, they got the Giants to not only give them the second-round pick Seattle had been lacking and really wanting, but the fifth pick at the top of Friday’s round two, 37th overall.
“It’s awesome. We’re five picks away again. Here we go,” coach Pete Carroll said late Thursday. “We’re cranked up about that chance. And then come back again in the third (round). We’re fired up about that, for sure. Great accomplishment to get that done so that we can keep working on it.”
Plus, the Giants gave the Seahawks a fourth-round pick and a fifth-round choice for Saturday.
That’s three picks to move down seven spots, and get into the top of round two.
That’s value. That’s a win for Seattle. It gives the team nine choices in all this weekend. They started the week with four picks in this draft, the fewest in the NFL.
“That was one of the craziest first rounds that we’ve seen. A lot of stuff shaking there. ... There was a number of teams that wanted to get up there,” general manager John Schneider said of the trade with the Giants. “And Scott (Fitterer, Seahawks co-director of player personnel) did a great job of hanging in. We almost picked right there (at 30), and Scott was right there with those guys so we decided to make the move and move back to 37 and acquire a couple more picks.
“I think it was very important (to get into the second round), especially with the way our board looked. There’s a ton of work that goes into it. Want to be able to give us the flexibility to be able to do what we wanted throughout the whole draft, not just the first round.
“You got to remember, the first round is like everybody knows all the players and we talk about it for months,” Schneider said. “It’s entertainment. And that’s cool. It’s what we do. But that’s not necessarily the meat of the draft.”
So what flavor meat will the Seahawks go for in rounds two and three Friday?
A run on defensive backs is about to begin, perhaps with Arizona with the first pick of round two. LSU cornerback Andraez “Greedy” Williams is seen as the best cover man available, and the Cardinals need defense after focusing on offense with top overall pick Kyler Murray.
Only one cornerback went in the first round: Deandre Baker, from Georgia, to the Giants in the spot they absolutely had to have from the Seahawks at 30.
Seattle needs a safety more than a cornerback. The Seahawks don’t seem sold Tedric Thompson is their long-term replacement for departed All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas. And they lost nickel defensive back Justin Coleman in free agency to Detroit last month.
That’s why I had Chauncey Gardner-Johnson going to the Seahawks at 37 with the Giants’ pick I mocked in my seven-round projections earlier this week. Gardner-Johnson is a versatile, 210-pound runner (4.48 40-yard dash) who can either be a single-high cover man in Seattle’s scheme or potentially cover slot receivers as a nickel back. He excelled doing both at Florida, in the ultra-competitive Southeastern Conference.
A two-in-one ball hawk. That’s why the Seahawks wanted to get into round two.
Don’t rule out another trade—never rule out another trade with Schneider and Carroll.
But if they stay with their other choice, 92nd overall in round three, look for the Seahawks to either address their galling, 4.9 yards per rush they allowed last season with a run-stopping defensive tackle or the uncertain future of 30-year-old top wide receiver Doug Baldwin coming off three offseason surgeries.
Miles Boykin could still be available when Seattle picks at the end of round three.
At 6-feet-4, 220 pounds with an eye-catching 40-yard dash time of 4.42 seconds and a 43 1/2-inch vertical leap, Notre Dame’s leading receiver last season has the size Carroll loves with speed and hops the veteran coach covets. Seattle lacks bigger receivers, and it keeps trying to find one who will stick (Brandon Marshall, Amara Darboh, David Moore, Kenny Lawler).
The Seahawks’ wide-receiving group really is Baldwin, Tyler Lockett—and a bunch of guys. And Baldwin just had a sports-hernia surgery this month, on top of knee and shoulder operations this winter. He faces an uncertain return and future. Carroll says only that Baldwin has a long, indefinite road back onto the field this summer.
That makes wide receiver more of a priority than it was a couple months ago.
The Seahawks then have their final six selections of this draft spread across the fourth and fifth rounds Saturday. They have four picks in round four (114 and 118 from Green Bay in their trade down from 21 to 30 Thursday, plus 124 and 132) and two choices in the fifth round (142 and 159).
“We were excited to add a couple picks,” Schneider said., “and we really feel like we’re back in the mix in this draft in 2019.
“We’re looking forward to the rest of the weekend.”