Everyone has a take on how the Seahawks did the NFL Draft. And while we won’t know for a year or two how they actually did, two things are clear to me:
The Seahawks are excited about their draft class, and their most glaring disappointment was not having one more pick in particular, which ironically would’ve increased their pick total to twelve.
Now, it goes without saying that John Schneider did a masterful job, adding four more draft picks from three separate trades and still drafting the player they say they wanted: Malik McDowell from Michigan State. Schneider even called it their biggest accomplishment of the draft. It allowed flexibility and options – especially when it came to having four picks in Round 3. Personally, I can't wait to see all 11 draft picks and see how they fit in.
But listen to Schneider and Pete Carroll talk about having to wait between their 4th and 6th Round Picks:
John Schneider: “I think the biggest disappointment was the 5th Round. I think we sat there for...it seemed like a day and a half, waiting to pick again.”
Pete Carroll: “A great abyss.”
Schneider: “We were just watching players come off one by one. It was a blast (sarcasm).”
You can tell it was frustrating. You can tell was painful.
The Seahawks – who have found middle-round gems like K.J. Wright, Kam Chancellor, Luke Willson and Richard Sherman – had to wait 76 picks, or 30 percent of the draft, just sitting there. Waiting. Stirring. Watching players they spent a ton of time scouting...drop off the board without having a single pick.
I bring this up because it has an impact on what we’re about to see in OTA Workouts the next two months. The NFL took away the Seahawks fifth-round pick this year for their third violation of excessive contact rules during an OTA Workout last year. They’ve said any future violations could result in the forfeiture of higher-round or multiple draft selections in the future.
According to the NFL, in OTAs, “The intensity and tempo of drills should be at a level conducive to learning, with player safety as the highest priority, and not at a level where one player is in a physical contest with another player.”
And that’s a problem. Because, (excuse me?!?) this is football. There’s contact in football!
And that means the Seahawks are in a tough position, having to walk an incredibly fine line between spirited competition – the central theme of this organization – and knowing that the league is watching their every move like a hawk (pun intended). How can you compete at the highest possible level in FOOTBALL without the risk of some contact – without, as the league says, ‘physical contest with another player?’
I give credit to the Seahawks for going to great lengths to make sure they’re in compliance. They’ve had meetings and gone over instructional film to prevent future punishment. Carroll continues to take this seriously and has said they have to get it right.
But this weekend, they felt that punishment in the Draft Room for the very first time. And with the final phase of OTA workouts starting soon, they’ll have to find that precious balance between protecting their players and protecting their central theme of competition.
I’m confident the Seahawks will find a way. Because they know if they don’t, the wait in their draft room could be even longer – and more painful - next year.