The Seahawks’ contingent will be arriving Tuesday in Indianapolis for the NFL’s annual meat market/pre-draft combine with three pluses they didn’t bring last year:
*More interest in the top of the draft with a first-round pick this year
*And more time.
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Seattle general manager John Schneider, coach Pete Carroll and staffers are scouting for what Schneider last week said he expects will be 10 selections in May’s draft. Barring trades, it will be the third time in 13 years the Seahawks will have a double-digit number of picks. They had 11 in 2013 (only five of whom are still on the team: Tharold Simon, Luke Willson, Jesse Williams and Jordan Hill, both of whom ended this past season on injured reserve, and Christine Michael). Seattle had 10 picks in 2012, the draft that still has Bruce Irvin, Bobby Wagner, Russell Wilson, Robert Turbin, Jeremy Lane and J.R. Sweezy on the roster from it.
This, if it stays 10 without a trade, would be one more selection than the Seahawks had in 2014. And unlike last year it includes a first-round pick, next-to-last at 31st overall.
The 10-pack includes three expected compensatory selections over the fourth and fifth rounds from losing free agents before the 2014 season, most valuably wide receiver Golden Tate. And it includes the pick Seattle got from the New York Jets in October in the Percy Harvin trade – that was the trade of Harvin, who had cost Seattle that first-round pick last year after it had acquired him from Minnesota.
If the Jets decide to keep Harvin and his $10.5-million contract on and past March 19, New York owes the Seahawks a fourth-round pick. If the Jets cut the dynamic but enigmatic wide receiver before March 19, Seattle gets a sixth-round choice.
Something else on the Seahawks' side this winter and spring: Time.
Schneider and his player-evaluation staff began fully preparing for the 2014 free agency in March and the May during Super Bowl 48 week in New Jersey in January.
“I don’t think we did a very good job with it,” the GM said. “So we wanted to be ahead of it this year.”
This time, Schneider began the full plotting for the Seahawks’ offseason moves more than a month earlier, in December still during the regular season. They brought the entire preparation operation to Phoenix during the last week of January to finalize it during the days before Seattle played New England in Super Bowl 48.
“It’s a great thing, we are in the midst of preparing for the biggest game and supporting the football operations (for the Super Bowl), but we brought the whole operation down there to prepare for the draft and free agency,” Schneider said. “The good thing is we’ve had free-agency meetings already. We did that earlier this year than we did that last year.
“We have to do that is because what we found out last year was we got a little bit behind,” the GM said, before adding with wry deadpan: “You know, it’s a real bummer: We had a Super Bowl. We won it. It got in the way of our preparation.”
Schneider just sent his draft staff and scouts home to their families for a few days last week before they were to reconvene in Indiana this week. Starting Tuesday and Wednesday, they and Carroll will interview nervous college players. Each prospect can have up to 15 private interviews – and the questions about just about everything but football that are among the most unconventional things the always unconventional Schneider and Carroll will do all year.
After that the Seahawks will join the other 31 teams in staring up and down each prospect as they parade into and out of a humbling sort of height-weight-body-shape screening room.
Only after all that will the prospects do in position groups the most recognizable parts of the combine: The 40-yard dashes, shuttle runs, plus agility and strength drills on the stadium’s turf that are televised nationally by the league’s network all week.
Then after the combine ends after this weekend at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis, Schneider’s guys will fan out across the country to attend prospects’ individual pro days on college campuses.
Tomorrow I will list a few of the prospects the Seahawks may be following from the combine to their pro days in the coming weeks. And I'll be reporting from the combine in Indianapolis Tuesday through Saturday, with Carroll and Schneider scheduled to talk on separate days about the current state of the team.