After the expected first-round trade by Seattle, general manager John Schneider pulled a surprise by making a rare first-day pick and addressing one of the Seahawks’ biggest needs.
Sliding back to the final pick of the first round on Thursday night, Seattle took Texas A&M offensive lineman Germain Ifedi with the No. 31 selection to help address some of the questions on its offensive line.
“Seattle is the place I felt the best about through the entire process,” Ifedi said.
While a number of top defensive linemen and UCLA linebacker Myles Jack were still available, the Seahawks decided to take care of holes in quarterback Russell Wilson’s protection. The Seahawks lost starting left tackle Russell Okung and right guard J.R. Sweezy in free agency.
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Schneider said the decision came down to drafting either an offensive or defensive lineman.
“This is a guy that understands the game but he knows that he wants to go even further,” Schneider said. “He’s got a lot of self-confidence … about him. He knows also what his limitations are and how to accentuate them and how he wants to dive into the coaching staff and learn and grow.”
Seattle had not made a pick in the first round since 2012 when it drafted linebacker Bruce Irvin. Even after the Seahawks moved down from No. 26 to the 31st pick, there was a thought they might move down once more and stockpile more picks for later in the draft.
The way he plays was really important because he’s really physical and can get after it and mixes it up with you. That style is really at home with us.
Coach Pete Carroll
But the chance to get Ifedi, who had his pro day run by Seattle offensive line coach Tom Cable, was too appealing to pass up. Ifedi is 6-foot-6, 324 pounds and the Seahawks project him long-term as a right tackle, but valued his versatility having playing one season in college at right guard. He was a three-year starter at Texas A&M and a second-team all-Big 12 selection after his junior season. Ifedi considered leaving after his redshirt sophomore season in 2014, but returned to College Station for one more year.
Seattle also signed veteran J'Marcus Webb – projected as a right tackle – in free agency.
“The way he plays was really important because he’s really physical and can get after it and mixes it up with you,” coach Pete Carroll said. “That style is really at home with us.”
Seattle had the No. 26 pick but traded that selection to Denver, which picked Memphis QB Paxton Lynch. Seattle moved back to No. 31 and picked up the No. 94 overall pick in the third round, giving the team 10 picks in the draft and five in the top 100. It was the second time in three years the Seahawks traded their first-round pick to a team that drafted a quarterback.
It was the eighth time the Seahawks have traded down under Schneider. He said there were four or five teams that reached out about the 26th pick, but the Seahawks followed through on initial conversations they had with the Broncos prior to the draft about a deal.
“We have nine more picks so that is really exciting for us,” Schneider said. “We feel it’s a solid draft all the way through.”
Carroll and Schneider had lamented earlier in the week the difficulty in finding college offensive linemen ready for the NFL because of the number of spread formations being used in the collegiate game. Cable said that Ifedi has certain areas that need to be sharpened, but he doesn’t expect the learning curve to be significant.
“That distance for me to get him where he needs to be, I think, is rather short,” Cable said.