Preparing for an NFL draft unlike any other, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider held a pre-draft news conference on Tuesday unlike any other.
Each Zoomed in to talk to reporters in setups from their homes, where they will lead in conducting the draft for the Seahawks Thursday through Saturday.
Schneider said he’s had a couple walls in his house “ripped up” to help create the setup that he says includes what “feels like 25 screens” to lead a virtual draft, with the NFL mandating that teams cannot use their facilities, among other changes.
“We’ve had tons of drafts over our lifetimes that will never be remembered like this one will be,’’ said Carroll of the accommodations that have to be made thanks to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Here are more highlights of what Carroll and Schneider had to say:
Seahawks not closing door on Jadeveon Clowney
Tuesday’s virtual news conference was the first time Carroll and Schneider have talked to local media at large since the end of the 2019 season, and since the beginning of the free-agent signing period in March.
Surprisingly, all of that time has passed with defensive end Jadeveon Clowney remaining unsigned.
Both Carroll and Schneider said the team remains in communication with Clowney and held out hope he could still remain with the Seahawks but did not offer specifics about negotiations.
“We made an effort to re-sign him,” Schneider said. “The door is not closed, but we couldn’t wait any longer, we had to conduct business. Everything was very cordial, he’s a great guy – represented by a great guy . . . We’ve had great conversations. He’s just going to feel his way through this odd process, and we’ll see where that goes.”
Carroll noted that some players such as Clowney haven’t been able to make visits to teams to take physicals and that maybe he is going to try to “buy some time here’’ before making a decision.
“We’ll see if (Clowney) comes back around,’’ Carroll said. “We don’t know. We’ll find out in time. … we’ll see where he is when he’s ready to make a decision.’’
Schneider’s comment about the team having to go about conducting its business referred to decisions to bring back former Seahawks Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa to help the pass rush.
“We’re excited about having those guys back,’’ Schneider said, noting that they are each players with which the team is “comfortable.’’
But Schneider indicated that the work on improving the pass rush is not done.
“Pass rush is always something we’re focused on,’’ Schneider said. “Obviously we need to do a better job in that regard and that’s from an acquisition standpoint, from a developmental standpoint and from a schematic standpoint.’’
Schneider “80%’’ comfortable with virtual draft
The league held a “mock draft’’ on Monday with all 32 teams as a dry run for how the draft will work Thursday from a virtual standpoint.
Schneider said that after a few hiccups early on he felt it went fine.
Schneider said one of those hiccups was that he hadn’t unmuted himself when there was an initial roll call, laughing that the league “just went right past the Seahawks so we weren’t even involved’’ and that he had to be told to get unmuted.
But he said in the second round of the mock draft “everything went along great.’’
Still, Schneider said he wants a bit more practice so he revealed that the Seahawks and “four or five’’ other teams on Wednesday will get together virtually to do a bit more practicing, particularly in terms of negotiating trades.
“We’re gonna do one tomorrow where we’re getting to get into a little bit more of the negotiation process with the draft that goes on,’’ he said. “… That (the mock draft) was all scripted for us, so we’re gonna just go off script and work with a couple teams.’’
Comfort in making trades is a big deal for a Seahawks team that has made a living doing that through the years. Seattle has made 13 trades during the draft the last three years, seven last year.
“I feel about 80% comfortable with it,’’ Schneider said. “I want to go through it more in my own head. I’m very visual, so I want to experience it. It’s because it’s muting this person. I’m muting that person and talking through things with this person and you know calling this team and calling that team on your cellphone and, you know, making sure that our guys are still communicating with the teams they’re responsible for.’’
Schneider also said his understanding is that the league won’t strictly enforce time deadlines for making picks if there are technical issues, with teams agreeing they won’t try to use any potential glitches to their advantage.
“It sounds that we’re gonna treat it more like the baseball draft where it’s just on your honor,’’ Schneider said.
Carroll working as if season will start on schedule, happy to play without fans
The NFL remains hopeful that the season will start as planned, but both Carroll and Schneider cautioned they were not relaying any information they had heard. Schneider said a few times it’s his understanding the league is focusing on getting through the draft before then turning attention to dealing with what comes next.
“We are anticipating that we’ll get together before the season starts (for training camp), and when they tell us that it isn’t then we’ll adjust to that, you know,” Carroll said. “And so we’re doing our planning and our operations are on full to get ready. We’re just gonna keep thinking that’s happening and keep our head down about that.’’
As for the possibility of playing games without fans, Carroll said whatever it takes.
“Whatever has to happen, everybody needs to be wide open and ready to adapt and all of that in all aspects of our lives right now, and certainly as we go approach the season we’re going to have to be prepared,” Carroll said. “There’s still a great opportunity to show the game to our fans (through) the other media sources. But if that’s the way it is, it’ll be a different experience but it can happen. You know, there’s scrimmages and stuff like that you have and you play and you pipe in sound and all that.’’
Then Carroll offered a possible alternative for trying to create crowd noise without fans.
“Maybe everybody just watch the game and yell out the window,’’ he said.
Competition is on at center, corner; Carson and Penny doing well
Here are a few other quick notes:
- Both Carroll and Schneider declined to get into talking about the strengths and weaknesses of the draft, keeping with their “always compete’’ philosophy that they’ve stuck to for a few years now.
- Both likewise declined to get real specific about how the additions of cornerback Quinton Dunbar and center/guard B.J. Finney could impact the holdovers at those spots, notably right corner Tre Flowers and center Justin Britt (who has been the subject of much speculation that he could be released to save the team $8.5 million against the salary cap). “Competition’s on,’’ Carroll said. “Couldn’t be more clear.’’
- Carroll said he has been able to keep in communication with injured running backs Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny. Carson is recovering from a fractured hip and Penny a knee injury. Carroll said “they’re doing really well.’’