John Schneider is ready to deal in his first draft as Seahawks general manager, and he has a ton of holes to fill on his roster. But he has a wealth of NFL front-office experience to draw from.
Initiative earned John Schneider his entry into the NFL.
He started with letters to Green Bay general manager Ron Wolf, progressed to phone calls and finally wound up at Packers headquarters for a holiday audition over Memorial Day weekend in 1992.
“I met John pretty much through his persistence,” said Wolf, the former Packers general manager. “And I believe strongly in giving young people a shot.”
Schneider was 21, a junior at St. Thomas, a small college in Minnesota. Wolf staged an audition, asking Schneider to watch game tape and write a scouting report. That was enough to earn Schneider an internship, the first step in what has been a steady progression up NFL organizational charts.
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“The rest, as they say, is history,” Wolf said in a recent telephone interview.
Schneider, 38, is the Seahawks’ first-year general manager. He has a Super Bowl ring and a résumé that includes working with Mike Holmgren, Marty Schottenheimer and most recently Ted Thompson in Green Bay.
Schneider is a pivotal figure in this oh-so-important draft for the Seahawks. Seattle went out and hired a rock star of a coach in Pete Carroll this offseason, but it’s Schneider working behind the scenes to get the equipment in working order. While Caroll must sign off on every decision, Schneider is the one who organized Seattle’s draft board and will guide the Seahawks through the maze of draft-day decisions.
If history is any indication, expect Seattle to be quick on the trigger and slide back in the draft order. Over the previous five seasons when Schneider was in Green Bay, the Packers completed 15 draft-day trades. Thirteen of those trades were to move back in the draft order, accumulating more picks.
“I’m always open to trading down, I really am,” Schneider said in an interview last week. “We kind of took pride in it in Green Bay, and we will continue to do that.”
It’s a sign of the confidence Schneider brings to his scouting, a belief that the team can make good use of those later picks since trading down comes at a cost of quality at the top.
“You are going to miss out on a guy here or there,” Schneider said.
The goal is to make up for any hit in terms of top-shelf quality with the quantity of starters unearthed later in the draft.
“Two players for one,” Schneider said. “Your odds are higher, and we do have needs.”
Yes, they do. Seattle has lost starters at wide receiver, safety, defensive end and left guard this offseason, not to mention the critical uncertainty at left tackle.
Under Schneider, the Seahawks have stayed with the grading scale used under former president Tim Ruskell for this year’s draft. The draft board is organized according to the principles Schneider used in Green Bay, though, and he has declined to reveal any specifics.
Schneider’s former boss has no doubts about his pedigree.
“He’s been working in the front office for a long time,” said Thompson. “He’s been in several different situations, which I think is invaluable experience … He’s good to go.”
It’s the latest step in a career that began one holiday weekend in college when a student with a dream demonstrated he had more than just an appetite to make a career in scouting. He had the eyes.
Wolf saw that when the college kid sat down and began making notes off videotape.
“What I wanted to see is that person tell me what kind of player he was looking at,” Wolf said. “To write down the facts of those players, paint a picture with your description, so to speak, and John was able to do that.”
Not quite 20 years later, the Seahawks are trusting Schneider’s vision to shape their future.
• The Seahawks signed guard Ben Hamilton, the team announced Tuesday. Hamilton, 32, was the longest-tenured member of the Denver Broncos offensive line. The Seahawks did not announce any terms for the contract, and Hamilton’s agent did not return a message. Hamilton is listed at 6 feet 4, 290 pounds. He is a nine-year NFL veteran chosen in the fourth round of the 2001 draft.
Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org