NFL’s draft extravaganza is upon us. But for Seahawks, the show started weeks ago

Analyzing the Seahawks’ options in the 2019 NFL Draft

Gregg Bell breaks down who the Seattle Seahawks might take in this year's NFL Draft.
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Gregg Bell breaks down who the Seattle Seahawks might take in this year's NFL Draft.

For the rest of the NFL, the grandest show of the offseason has arrived.

For Team Stuff Happens, the show’s been going on for weeks.

The Seahawks enter Thursday’s NFL draft having made the two biggest moves in the league leading up to the annual prospect crapshoot.

Last week they re-signed quarterback Russell Wilson for $140 million, the richest contract in NFL history.

This week they got a second pick in Thursday’s first round of the draft, plus a second-round choice next year, from Kansas City for top pass rusher Frank Clark in an NBA-style trade-and-sign deal. The Chiefs gave Clark a new, $104 million contract, well above what Seattle was going to pay its top pick from 2015 coming off his rookie contract.

That trade has moved the Seahawks from relative bystanders to most of the draft—previously with a league-low four picks in all—to squarely in the middle of the intrigue for Thursday night’s first round.

“It’s not fun,” general manager John Schneider said Monday of having just four picks.

That was the day before he moved to make it five. And counting.

Yes, the fun is just beginning. Expect the Seahawks to trade of one, or both, their first-round picks Thursday.

It’s what they do.

Because they rarely have had first-round grades on enough players to reach their initial draft position in a given year, Schneider and coach Pete Carroll have traded Seattle’s first-round choice in seven consecutive drafts. The Clark trade has doubled their ammunition and opportunity to make it eight straight years of a first-round trade.

The Seahawks own the 21st and now 29th picks in Thursday’s round one.

They have what used to be Kansas City’s 92nd-overall selection in round three Friday. Seattle also has choices in the fourth round (124 overall) and fifth round (159) on the draft’s final day Saturday.

The Seahawks lack the extra compensatory picks for a net loss from previous years that they’ve had. That and previous trades are why Seattle has only five choices. That’s three fewer than its previous low under Carroll and Schneider.

What the Seahawks really want right now is a second-round pick.

They don’t have one currently because of the trade two seasons ago that brought Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown to Seattle. Schneider has been so ill over not have a second rounder he’s put a Duane Brown sticker over the spot of Seattle’s draft board that would otherwise be blank and waiting for that pick Friday.

The most attractive chip the Seahawks have to get that second-round pick is the first of their two first-round picks, at 21. There are five teams with multiple picks in the second round that may be willing to part with one of them to move up into the lower part of round one: Indianapolis (34, 59 overall), Philadelphia (53, 57), Houston (54, 55), New England (56, 64, among the Patriots’ NFL co-leading 11 total picks) and the Chiefs (61, 63).

Oakland has two picks behind Seattle’s at 21 in the first round, at 24 and 27. Will there be a stud prospect at edge rusher, cornerback or running back (now that Marshawn Lynch is retiring again as of Wednesday) the Raiders may want to trade up a few spots with the Seahawks to snare?

Then there is New Orleans. The Saints are currently missing out on all the first-round fun. They don’t have their first pick until late in round two. Would they move up to 21 to join Thursday’s bash?

Point is, with two picks in round one the Seahawks have double the options and chances on trading down—again—and getting more picks than they did before they traded Clark.

Seattle could trade down to get that second-round choice and still get a player it wants in the first round at 29. And now the team is far more in play to get perhaps one of the top defensive linemen and edge rushers who without medical red flags would be top-15 picks.

That includes Montez Sweat from Mississippi State (enlarged heart), Rashan Gary from Michigan (torn labrum in his shoulder) and Jeffery Simmons, a defensive-tackle dynamo also from Mississippi State coming off a torn knee ligament and reconstructive knee surgery in February.

Simmons played both three-technique tackle in the guard-center gap and five-technique end off the offensive tackle at Mississippi State. That’s the inside-outside hybrid role Seattle hasn’t had somebody play effectively since it traded Pro Bowler Michael Bennett two years ago.

Malik McDowell was supposed to be that guy; that’s why the Seahawks made him their top pick in 2017. But his ATV accident and serious head injuries months after Seattle drafted him ended his Seahawks career before he even practiced for them, let alone played in a game.

Simmons is that same kind of risk, potential high-reward defensive lineman. It will take a team willing to perhaps wait out a full year of recovery past 2019 to see that upside.

Our annual News Tribune first-round mock NFL draft has surprises, and follows some Seahawks patterns

“Because the Seahawks have that second first-round pick, I believe they may be willing to roll the dice,” said NFL draft guru Rob Rang of Seattle’s addition choice Wednesday on Seattle’s KJR-AM radio.

Rang told the News Tribune if Simmons slips through round one, it won’t be far past it. Maybe the first five picks of round two on day two, but no deeper than that.

The Seahawks have had huge successes on the third day of drafts (Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Chris Carson, Will Dissly, 2018 rookie All-Pro punter Michael Dickson and more). Last year, they created the story of the 2018 draft by selecting Shaquem Griffin in the fifth round on day three as the first one-handed player drafted into the NFL, reuniting him with his twin brother Shaquill.

Cool footage from the moment Shaquem Griffin was selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL draft. The University of Central Florida linebacker had his left hand amputated as a child, but his speed and skill convinced the Seahawks to take him.

This year, for now, Seattle has only two picks over the four rounds of the final draft day. The Seahawks lack a sixth-round choice. It traded that last year for now-gone backup quarterback Brett Hundley. They are also without a seventh-round pick because they traded for core special-teams player and safety Shalom Luani in September.

Coach Pete Carroll on the role for safety Shalom Luani, for whom the Seahawks just traded, and what Dontae Johnson has shown them at right cornerback.

Seattle’s potential late-round trading partners include Cleveland and the Giants, who have three picks each in round five, Cincinnati (with five selections in the sixth round) and the Patriots with their four choices in the seventh and final round.

Schneider and Carroll have traded picks to get more so often, and seem especially needing to do that this year.

Their reputation precedes them around the league. Does that make it harder now to deal than it was previously?

“No,” Schneider said. “I think people recognize that we’re obviously open to moving back.

“This year is unique having (now five) picks. Rookie free agency is going to be huge for us, because it’s not like you just pick up the phone and people are like, ‘OK, yeah, we’ll come up.’ It’s a process that starts several selections ahead of where you’re currently sitting. But our guys do a great job of calling everybody trying to get scenarios all set up—they’re trying to figure out where we can go and move back to. I think the fact that we have done it a lot I would think invites people a little bit.”

Carroll said: “It’s kind of like Steph Curry. How many people ask Steph Curry, ‘Jeez, is it harder to hit those 3s now that everybody knows you’re really good at it?’”

Steph Curry... that’s one player we can guarantee the Seahawks aren’t drafting Thursday through Saturday.

Every other move? Who knows?

Seattle’s is the always-eventful show within the NFL’s huge draft show.

Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.