NFL teams such as the Seahawks are now entering the phase of their pre-draft preparation where they are bringing in prospects for visits. Here's a look at what the Seahawks have reportedly done so far.
Not that NFL teams aren’t always sort of preparing for the next draft.
But with the free agent signing period now largely in the rearview mirror, the draft becomes the focus for the next few weeks until the picks are made April 28-30.
One part of the process you will begin hearing a lot about are pre-draft visits by prospects to the facilities of NFL teams.
Each team is allowed to bring in 30 players for pre-draft visits.
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In an interview Tuesday on the Brock and Salk Show on ESPN 710 Seattle, Seahawks general manager John Schneider hinted that the visits are largely devoted to players the team may not have been able to see as much of at other venues, notably the NFL combine in late February.
“It’s big for us,’’ he said of the visits. “We really take a lot of pride in working the fourth round down and we spend a lot of time on it, so a lot of that are a lot of guys who have not been invited to the (NFL) combine.’’
Teams cannot conduct on-field drills with players during the visits. But teams can conduct physicals and administer written tests and just generally hold interviews with the players they bring in.
“A, the physical,’’ Schneider said of the importance of the pre-draft visits. “B is sports science and C is the psychology of it.’’
How important the pre-draft visits are is difficult to tell, as is much of everything in the run-up to the draft.
As Mike Tanier of Bleacher Report once found, of the 495 recorded pre-draft visits in 2013, only 33 players were eventually selected by a team that brought them in. And NFL.com a year ago detailed even more reasons the visits are overrated in terms of the ultimate draft-day decisions of teams.
As FieldGulls has reported, though, the Seahawks have brought in for a pre-draft visit each of the players it has selected first in the last three drafts — Christine Michael in 2013, Paul Richardson in 2014 and Frank Clark in 2015.
A year ago, the Seahawks drafted four of the 26 players they brought in for pre-draft visits, according to FieldGulls — Clark and offensive linemen Terry Poole, Mark Glowinski and Kristjan Sokoli. The Seahawks also eventually signed as free agents three other players they brought in — DLs Tory Slater and Justin Hamilton and DE Josh Shirley.
In 2014, the Seahawks drafted three of the 27 players they brought in — Richardson, Cassius Marsh and Eric Pinkins. And they eventually signed three others — WR Kevin Smith, LB Brock Coyle and TE Chase Dixon.
In 2013, the numbers were smaller as Michael was the only one of 20 known visitors that the Seahawks drafted with two others eventually signing as free agents — DL Michael Brooks and WR Perez Ashford.
Of course, that means there were 17 visits unaccounted for — teams do not have to announce their visits, with info generally leaking via an agent or the player.
And that also means that 56 of the 73 players known to have visited never signed or were drafted by the Seahawks, meaning it’s all still a big guessing game.
As noted, simply figuring out who teams are bringing in for visits is a challenge in the cloaked-in-secrecy-and-paranoia process that is the NFL draft.
Various reports — mainly from WalterFootball.com and varying Twitter accounts — have listed six players as visiting or scheduled to visit the Seahawks.
RB Derrick Henry, Alabama: Henry was the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner and a player who could go as high as the first round.
DL Jonathan Bullard, Florida: Bullard played just about everywhere on the defensive line but could be a three-technique tackle (the Athbya Rubin position) or a base end (Michael Bennett) and is generally considered a second/third-rounder.
OT Lene Maiava, Arizona: Arizona’s starting right tackle in 2015, he has also played guard and is generally viewed as likely going the undrafted free agent route.
LB Christian French, Oregon: French played an outside linebacker/defensive end role at Oregon similar to that of Bruce Irvin with the Seahawks and also was briefly a tight end.
CB Rashard Robinson, LSU: Robinson is one of the bigger wildcard players in the draft and probably the prototype of the kind of player a team would want to bring in for a pre-draft visit, having been suspended indefinitely by LSU for “multiple’’ teams rules violations in 2014 and not playing last season before declaring for the draft. Obvious off-field issues aside, he intrigues teams with his size (6-1-1/2, 171) and then showing he was in good shape at the combine, running a 4.49 40. A likely late-round pick.