Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
I’ll admit it, I am a geek … a NFL geek. For a moment I was ashamed when asked what I was going to do yesterday evening and I responded “Um, I think I am going to sit on my couch, pull up the NFL draft on my laptop and watch it.” I almost felt like I should hang my head in shame, much like the first time I had to admit that I was going to watch a golf tournament on television. To the uninitiated this would be akin to the proverbial watching paint dry (which is more boring than it even sounds). But to me, this is as exciting as a football game.
Instead of watching the NFL or ESPN feed of the draft, I pulled up the live feed of the Seahawks war room off of the Seahawks website. It had the ESPN draft ticker and commentary in the background but the live screen was of the coaching staff. The very first image was of John Schneider intently gazing at a laptop (which you couldn’t see because it had its back to the live feed) and Pete Carroll, sitting in a chair next to John, tossing a football back and forth with one of the other coaches. If you would have told me that they had all taken some Xanax before the day started I wouldn’t have been surprised by what I was seeing. There was no desperation, no arguing, no panic. There was, however, laughing, talking and a lot of looking at phones and computers but with no anxiety greater than one might experience reading the latest gossip on TMZ.
By the time the last player was chosen we had tallied nine overall prospects through seven rounds. Granted, I knew nothing about any of these players, apart from Alabama’s wide receiver. I did a lot of reading about who should go where and who the Seahawks should pick. By the way, read my last article because I address how ridiculous mock drafts are, as evidenced by nobody getting Seattle’s picks correct. In fact, with players on the board that they should have taken, according to draft nicks, they scooted right by them and in a few cases traded that pick away because they had their sights set on a relative unknown.
What I do know after watching Seattle the last couple of drafts is that they feel much more comfortable in the late rounds. They are apprehensive about picking in round one. Maybe call them gun shy based on what has happened with some of their first-round choices. Trading back and garnering more picks was definitely a prevalent thought.
We had no, what I like to call, ‘corporate picks’. A corporate pick is a popular pick because that is who everybody thinks should be chosen in the first round regardless if that person met your specific criteria that you defined. Sometimes I feel that teams get pigeon-holed into choosing a player because that is what they are supposed to do at that pick. But I have a secret….shhh…come a little closer….Seattle doesn’t do it that way. They define the physical characteristics, maturity level, aptitude, versatility and speed for each position and then they go out and find that person. They don’t get duped into adjusting their criteria just because that person is deemed to be the best on the board at the time. Nope, that player has to fit what the Seahawks are looking for and therefore it makes it very easy for Seattle to know whom they want.
I pulled up some videos to watch Pete and John’s post-draft press conference. They looked like kids on Christmas morning; happy and excited…but tired. You could tell that they were exhausted and mentally drained. And even though they had spent the day changing people’s lives and making the Seahawks a better team they still had the where-with-all to crack jokes with reporters and make it an entertaining and informative press conference. And in every case, as they talked about each of the players drafted, they intimated that this was exactly the player they wanted to draft. How would that make you feel, hearing that from your new bosses? This just personifies what the Seahawks embrace; work hard, play hard, have fun.
Of course now that the draft is over we can read the draft analyses; goodness knows everybody has an opinion. Most of the draft grades for the Seahawks came back with less than stellar marks. In just about every case each pundit wanted to give Seattle a worse grade. However, they were apprehensive, a fact they verbalized on more than one occasion. I heard over and over again a variation of this statement, “if it wasn’t for Carroll and Schneider’s track record we would have graded this pick a D but if Carroll and Schneider picked this kid then they must see something we don’t.” Hey, at least the analysts understand that they aren’t GMs and they don’t have the eye for player talent like Carroll and Schneider. I also suspect that they don’t want to be shown on highlight reels openly mocking the pick of a player who two years later won a Super Bowl. Huh, seems like I have seen that somewhere before. In John and Pete we trust. Go Hawks!