As the Seahawks gear up for another draft — the seventh of the Carroll-Schneider era — here are three thoughts about where they’ve been and where they need to go.
It was right after the 2015 season, and Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, defiant as ever, wanted to make a statement.
“We’re far from done,” Sherman said. “Guys are just entering the prime of their careers. We can be special for a long time.”
He’s right, but this is an interesting time for the Seahawks. For the first time since 2012, you can argue they have legitimate needs to fill in the NFL draft, which starts Thursday in Chicago.
The average age of their 13 highest-paid players will be 28 next season. And every year, a few more veterans trickle away via free agency, including starters Russell Okung, J.R. Sweezy and Bruce Irvin this year.
Both coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have said their goal is to build a team capable of winning the Super Bowl every year. And for the past four seasons, they have.
But to stay in contention for the next four years, the Seahawks have to make the draft the ATM it once was for them.
As the Seahawks gear up for another draft — the seventh of the Carroll-Schneider era — here are three thoughts about where they’ve been and where they need to go:
1. No one drafted better than the Seahawks from 2010-12
There are all sorts of ways to gauge their success, but here are two:
• The Seahawks drafted five players who have either been first-team All-Pros or multi-time Pro Bowlers.
For comparison: The Patriots, the team with the most wins since 2010, have drafted just one first-team All-Pro or multi-time Pro Bowler. The Packers didn’t have any. The Broncos drafted two such players, and the Steelers picked three.
• The players from those teams have made incredible amounts of money.
One former general manager suggested the best measure of a successful draft was to see the money players made after their rookie contracts.
I looked at 11 teams — the five with the most wins since 2010, the five with the most losses since 2010 and the 49ers — to see how the Seahawks compared.
Here is the list of total money earned by players drafted between 2010-12 based on their second contracts. A few disclaimers: All contract info came from spotrac.com, and there is some margin for error. This includes only drafted players and only second contracts worth at least $1 million. Some players from the 2012 draft are still on rookie deals but soon will sign lucrative contracts:
1. Seahawks: $553.45 million.
2. Broncos: $482.1 million.
3. 49ers: $292.75 million.
7. Packers: $199.5 million.
8. Patriots: $185.55 million.
11. Jaguars: $14.75 million.
That shows two things: The Seahawks have re-signed many of their best players to expensive deals, and even the players they don’t re-sign are valued across the NFL.
2. The Seahawks still rely on the core from those first three drafts
As good as those drafts were, the Seahawks didn’t recapture that magic in the 2013 and 2014 drafts.
Look at it this way:
• Players from the 2010-2012 drafts on the roster: 7.
• Players from the 2013-2014 drafts on the roster: 9.
They have two players from the 2010 draft on the roster and three from the 2013 draft, which includes the improbable redemption of second-round pick Christine Michael.
The real issue is that the Seahawks haven’t found starters in recent drafts.
The only consistent starter from the 2013 or 2014 drafts is offensive lineman Justin Britt. Everyone else either isn’t on the team, has been hurt or is a role player.
Attrition is inevitable. The question is always how teams fill the gaps.
3. These players must develop to fill gaps now or in the future
• Mark Glowinski, guard. The Seahawks spoke highly of Glowinski’s toughness and potential last season when he mostly apprenticed as a backup. But the Seahawks could need him this year. Glowinski is a natural fill-in for J.R. Sweezy, who signed with the Buccaneers this offseason.
• Frank Clark, defensive lineman. For the past three seasons, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril effectively have directed Seattle’s pass rush. And though both are supposed to do so again this season, it’s the nature of the NFL to look for younger and/or cheaper options. It was clear when the Seahawks drafted Clark that they saw him as the next guy in line, whenever they do move on from Avril and Bennett.
• Tye Smith, cornerback. Smith barely played last season, and he might not play much this season. But the Seahawks need good corners to thrive.
As Carroll said a couple years ago, “This system is always really corner-oriented. In college, I always wanted to be ‘Corner U,’ because when you can have the ability to do the things we do with those corners, it allows us to do a lot of other things defensively.”
The Seahawks are at their best when they can grow corners from within. You could argue that corner has been Seattle’s best position in the draft. They have drafted six corners, all in the fourth round or later, and have produced Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell, Walter Thurmond and Jeremy Lane.
Smith is next in line, some day.
|A look at how many players drafted in each year who remain on the Seahawks’ active roster:|
|Sources: espn.com, seahawks.com|