As the Seahawks and the rest of the NFL get ready for this weekend’s draft — the first round is Thursday — here are eight questions and our answers about the big event.
COULD THE MINUTES AFTER THE DRAFT BE AS INTERESTING AS THE DRAFT ITSELF?
The scramble to sign undrafted free agents is always critical — that’s how Seattle got Doug Baldwin in 2011 and players such as Jermaine Kearse, DeShawn Shead, Thomas Rawls, George Fant and Poona Ford in years since then.
But simply due to numbers, it could be even more intriguing for the Seahawks this season.
The Frank Clark trade means Seattle now has five picks, which is more than the four it had previously but still tied for the fewest in the NFL (though since two of them are firsts, the Seahawks have significant draft capital).
Everyone expects Seattle to add to that total and getting eight or nine wouldn’t be a surprise.
But that would still leave the Seahawks with a lot of room to add undrafted free agents.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Seahawks had 66 players under contract. Teams can have a max of 90. So Seattle could have room for anywhere from 15-18 or so UDFAs, who can begin singing the minute the draft ends — and often enter verbal agreements before the draft is over.
Seattle also may be waiting until May 7 to sign a few more free agent vets — that’s the date when signings no longer factor into the compensatory pick formula for the 2020 draft. But they could easily fill out the roster to 90 now and make moves later, if needed.
General manager John Schneider said this week the UDFA signing process will be as vital as ever for Seattle this year.
“It’s going to be a huge focus for us,’’ Schneider said. “We’re going to have a lot of people looking at us right away. I’m sure a lot of these players, their representatives are going to be looking at us as a very attractive place.’’
HOW MUCH DID THE SEAHAWKS HELP THEIR DRAFT CAPITAL WITH THE FRANK CLARK TRADE?
There are several different charts out there that place values on each team’s picks, and Schneider has said the Seahawks look at them when determining draft day trades.
Graham Barfield of NFL.com calculated that Seattle now has the sixth-most draft capital by adding another first-rounder behind only the Giants, Raiders, Cardinals, Packers and 49ers — the first time since 2010 Seahawks have had two first-round picks. (They used those then on Russell Okung and Earl Thomas at six and 14, and they’d love to hit it big again like that).
A chart devised two year ago by analyst Rich Hill shows that Seattle added 195 points in draft capital with the Clark trade, going from 342 to 537.
So yeah, the Seahawks have a lot more flexibility.
But one could argue that also means the Seahawks now have a lot more pressure
They knew what they had in Clark and what the defense might look like with him.
Now, they have to find a way to replace and they have the draft capital to get that done in what is a draft loaded with good defensive linemen and edge rushers. And true, this isn’t that black-and-white of an equation — Seattle also now has an extra $17 million in cap space this year to play with plus a lot more in future years that they are not devoting to Clark. But the draft is the simplest and cheapest way to replace that production and having made the trade of Clark, the pressure is on to make the most out of two first-round picks.
COULD THE PICKS THE SEAHAWKS HAVE IN 2020 HELP THEM ADD SOME IN 2019?
They certainly could, as Schneider said earlier this week.
Seattle also added a second-rounder in 2020 as part of the Clark trade and at the moment appears to have 12 picks next year — each of its original seven, the pick from Kansas City and four expected comp picks.
“I think it definitely helps, when you are talking about moving around the board,’’ Schneider said of knowing the team has a healthy haul of 2020 picks.
All of which means Seattle doesn’t have to just use its 2019 picks to trade down to acquire more selections this year.
HOW OFTEN HAVE THE SEAHAWKS TRADED DOWN IN THE CARROLL/SCHNEIDER ERA, ANYWAY?
Quite a bit. By my count, they have made 15 trades during the draft itself in which they have moved down to acquire at least one other pick and they have done so in all but one draft (2015, when they traded their first-round pick ahead of time to the Saints for Jimmy Graham).
The upshot is that through the various moves Seattle has made in that time, the Seahawks have had 86 draft picks since 2010, which is 23 more than simply using each of their original selections (not all were acquired through trades, as Seattle has also had 13 comp picks and has used some picks in other trades).
Of those 86 picks, 30 remain on Seattle’s roster and 47 are still in the NFL
WHO ARE THE MOST NOTABLE PLAYERS DRAFTED WITH PICKS RECEIVED IN TRADES TO MOVE DOWN?
The best may forever be Richard Sherman, who was taken in 2011 with a pick acquired when Seattle traded a second, fifth and seventh to Detroit for a third, fourth, fifth and seventh.
A few others acquired with mid-to-late round extra picks acquired in drafts include cornerback Jeremy Lane, defensive end Jacob Martin, running back Chris Carson, safeties Tedric Thompson and Delano Hill and tight end Nick Vannett.
Another who was taken after a trade down was middle linebacker Bobby Wagner in 2012. As the second round got underway Seattle saw that both of Wagner and Mychal Kendricks were still available and that each was unlikely to go before they chose again, the Seahawks made a deal with the Jets to swap second-round picks — going from 43 to 47 — to get a fifth- and a seventh-rounder. Kendricks went at 46 to the Eagles but Seattle then got Wagner at 47 (and now has both), and used the extra picks to draft linebacker Korey Toomer and defensive end Greg Scruggs.
HOW OFTEN DO THE SEAHAWKS MOVE UP?
Because none of them involved first round picks, the moves up may be somewhat forgotten. But Seattle has five times made trades on draft day involving only picks to move up since 2010, each actually coming since 2013.
The last four yielded pretty key players — receiver Tyler Lockett in 2015, defensive linemen Jarran Reed and Quinton Jefferson in 2016 and punter Michael Dickson in 2018.
WHAT ARE THE POSITIONS THE SEAHAWKS HAVE DRAFTED THE MOST SINCE 2010?
A breakdown provided by the team shows that offensive line is the position where the Seahawks have used the most picks in the Carroll/Schneider era — 18 — with at least one each year.
Second are defensive line and defensive backs — 17 of each.
Other position breakdowns? Seattle has taken 10 receivers, eight running backs, eight linebackers and four tight ends.
Seattle has not drafted a kicker in that time and just one punter, and logically won’t take either this year, and also has taken just one fullback.
Seattle also has drafted just two quarterbacks in that time — Russell Wilson and Alex McGough.
WHAT ARE THE GENERAL STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF THIS DRAFT?
Defense overall and the line in particular — some have speculated as many as 21 of the 32 first-round picks could used on defensive players.
It’s also regarded as pretty good at corner and safety, and good at outside linebackers, and at the top in inside linebackers, all of which is good for a Seattle team needing to beef up its defense.
On offense, the draft is regarded as pretty good at receiver and tight end, also spots where the Seahawks might want to add a player, especially receiver.
While there are some good offensive linemen at the top, it’s not regarded as particularly deep on the OL overall, nor is it real good at running back and not real deep at quarterback.
But those latter two spots don’t figure to be areas where Seattle will look too closely (though the Seahawks will need to add another QB in some fashion before training camp begins with just two on the roster).