The Seahawks went from having seven draft picks to 10 — in Pete Carroll’s words, an “exquisite” outcome. But they had better hit on a good share of those picks.
“With the 26th pick, oops, the 31st pick — well, we’ll get back to you on that — in the 2017 NFL draft, the Seattle Seahawks select … Bulk Inventory, from the University of Hoarded Assets.”
Mel Kiper Jr. says the Bulkster is not very flashy, but a real overachiever with a motor that won’t quit, a real steal. In fact, sometimes you’d swear this guy has been cloned.
On a night when 27 out of 32 teams, and their fans, got to revel in their feverishly anticipated and hotly debated first-round draft picks, and then show off their shiny new toys, the Seahawks opted to trade down, and down again, to rack up three extra picks.
It’s not sexy, and for those who have invested hours, if not weeks, in trying to divine whom the Seahawks would select in the first round, it was the ultimate exercise in anticlimax.
But for John Schneider and Pete Carroll, it was, in Carroll’s words, an “exquisite” outcome. For the Seahawks, picks are the shiny new toys, and Seattle went from seven to 10, which is like finding a bunch of extra presents on Christmas morning.
Seattle’s brain trust has a deep, abiding belief that the more times they get to make a selection — even if it’s outside the first round — the better the chance they unearth a gem. And they’re more than willing to sacrifice the glitz of Opening Draft Day to enact that tactic.
It’s a philosophy born out of faith in their scouting and analytical acumen, and backed up by such rousing relative sleepers as Bobby Wagner (second round), Russell Wilson (third round), K.J. Wright (fourth round), Richard Sherman (fifth round), and Kam Chancellor (fifth round).
Of course, there are also a litany of picks in the second, third, fourth and fifth rounds by the Seahawks that never popped, especially in the last four years. But in a draft that they firmly believe will still have prime options for them at their positions of need when they finally (theoretically, at least) step to the podium on Friday with the second pick of the second round, it makes perfect sense to star in the NFL version of “Hoarders.”
The Seahawks even have an academic validation for their MO. In his 2016 book “Misbehaving,” University of Chicago economist Richard H. Thaler argues that teams should always trade out of the first round for multiple picks in the second or later rounds. Thaler posits, with statistical evidence, that the value received (economically and in performance) tilts heavily in favor of those with extra later picks.
The Seahawks, who have traded out of the first round in four of the past five drafts, would get a gold star from the prof. And the Seahawks will be beating a path to the mike on Friday when they are scheduled to have two picks in the second round, and four more in the third round, a prospect that visibly thrilled Schneider and Carroll as they met the media to discuss their hyperactive inactivity.
When he sat down at the table, Schneider said, “Sorry, guys.” But he didn’t really seem at all dismayed by what had transpired.
“It’s going to be fun. A fun weekend,” Schneider said.
The caveat here is that the Seahawks had better hit on a good share of those picks, because the potential downside of such a tact is obvious. The farther down they drop, the less surety that their preferred player will be available.
Yet Schneider said that many of their highly graded players are still available, and the list of still-undrafted talent includes Washington defensive backs Kevin King and Budda Baker (not to mention injured Sidney Jones), and offensive line stalwarts Cam Robinson and Forrest Lamp, among others.
The Seahawks’ first trade, sending Atlanta their 26th overall pick for the Falcons’ first-rounder at No. 31, as well as their third rounder (95th overall) and seventh rounder (No. 249) reportedly went right down to the wire. And their second trade, shipping that 31st pick to San Francisco for No. 34 overall as well as the 49ers’ fourth-rounder, was one the Seahawks figured at one point was dead.
“Didn’t think that last one was going to happen,” Schneider said. “I thought we were going to pick.”
Schneider acknowledged that their motivation was to get more picks, “but not at the cost of losing a player, no.”
“That’s what was great,’’ added Carroll. “We didn’t feel like we lost a player to make the move. It really kept us incentivized. I thought it was a really neat job, John had to try to anticipate what would happen and the guys we were looking at. Could we still hold them available to us? We had to figure it out and take a shot at it, which was cool because it worked out. It worked really just like we’d hoped. We were very fortunate.”
This is a crucial draft for the Seahawks as the heart of Seattle’s Super Bowl teams inch closer to the end of their peak. Though the first round ended without a trade for Richard Sherman, his status remains in flux.
It is a moment in time that screams out for new blood, and they hope much of it will come in the next two days.
So they went out and got the Best Available Athlete, who is a real paper tiger. Now we’ll wait to see what happens when he springs to life.
Seahawks 2017 draft picks:
Round 1 | Pick 26 | No. 26 overall (→ traded to Falcons) Round 1 | Pick 31 | No. 31 overall (← acquired from Falcons → traded to 49ers)
Round 2 | Pick 2 | No. 34 overall (← acquired from 49ers)
Round 2 | Pick 26 | No. 58 overall
Round 3 | Pick 26 | No. 90 overall
Round 3 | Pick 31 | No. 95 overall (← acquired from Falcons)
Round 3 | Pick 38 | No. 102 overall
Round 3 | Pick 42 | No. 106 overall
Round 4 | Pick 4 | No. 111 overall (← acquired from 49ers)
Round 6 | Pick 26 | No. 210 overall
Round 7 | Pick 8 | No. 226 overall
Round 7 | Pick 31 | No 249 overall (← acquired from Falcons)