It’s January, so that means that it is “first mock of the year” for some notable NFL mock drafters. What I’ve seemed to notice a lot of in that regard when it comes to the Seattle Seahawks — not just now but always — is that they seem to not really know or care about Pete Carroll and John Schneider’s drafting history, aka, their entire first round philosophies.
No, the Seahawks do not typically draft secondary players early. Yet, here we are again.
In his first mock of the year, ESPN’s Mel Kiper had Seattle taking Florida State safety Derwin James. At SeahawksDraftBlog.com, friend of Field Gulls Rob Staton points out that James at 18 would be fair value — but also that it would go against the Seahawks entire draft history, as well as something much more obvious: That they don’t even have a significant need at strong safety.
Seattle’s only day one secondary player under this regime was Earl Thomas back in 2010. The only time that Carroll and Schneider have picked a secondary player in round two is never-not-once. Last year, the Seahawks finally broke a trend and picked Shaquill Griffin and Delano Hill in round three, the first time since Earl that they took a secondary player before round four.
Griffin may give Pete the confidence to go earlier-than-usual on a secondary player again, but it’s a significant jump to be taking a cornerback at pick 90, then to come back the next year and take a safety at pick 18. Especially if it is not a huge need, for three really weird-for-Kiper-to-ignore reasons:
1. Kam Chancellor is not retired. Maybe by April and May we will have a good sense that Kam isn’t going to play in 2018, or ever again, but right now he is presumed to be of the mindset of a return. It’s just weird to be jumping the gun on his retirement in January when there were so many players of need available instead.
2. As noted, the Seahawks drafted Hill in round three less than a year ago. They also selected Tedric Thompson just a few picks after round three. Why would Seattle go from taking no safeties prior to round four to then taking two in that range in 2017 and another with your first pick in 2018? Why did Kiper already give up on Hill after only one season? Kam barely played as a rookie, recording 16 tackles and zero starts. Hill is afforded a second season before the Seahawks pass up on him being Chancellor’s successor.
3. Bradley McDougald is almost certainly their number one option at strong safety should Kam retire. He may prove difficult to sign unless Seattle is willing to match offers from other teams for him to be a starter (McDougald is going to be a free agent) but the Seahawks have shown time and time again that they will successfully re-sign the players that they brought into the house on one or two-year deals. Look at Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Tony McDaniel, Ahtyba Rubin, Marshawn Lynch (trade but basically the same), Mike Williams, and others. I would put Seattle number one on the teams most likely to sign McDougald.
It would just be weird for the Seahawks to not only take a safety in round one, but to take one who has only been trending downward since his first season at Florida State in 2015.
Perhaps equally weird would be taking a cornerback at 18, as NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah suggested in his mock draft on Friday (prepare yourself for a very loud automatic video to be played):
Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado:
Oliver has excellent size and speed. He can locate and play the ball down the field. The Seahawks are likely headed toward a rebuild in the secondary.
Oliver declared for the draft on December 1, around the same time that B/R’s Matt Miller mocked him to the Seahawks before there was a draft order set and he had them at pick 24. (Implying a mock draft trend to just “Keep doing what others are doing” perhaps?)
Colorado’s Isaiah Oliver has the length, toughness and instincts to play in the Seattle defense. He’s been fantastic this season, his first as a full-time starter, and repeatedly shows the tools needed to be a good NFL cornerback.
As will be trendy, Miller suggests that Richard Sherman could be done with the Seahawks (and perhaps done being a number one cornerback due to age and his Achilles injury) and Jeremiah says that they need to “rebuild the secondary.” None of which really makes sense to me.
Number one, Sherman has had the one major injury now and is only 30. He’s not a cornerback who is successful because of speed, so slowing down slightly is less likely to be a factor in his demise, whenever that comes. Sherman is a future Hall of Fame type cornerback, and you can go look to see that Charles Woodson recorded 12 interceptions, at cornerback, over his age 30-31 seasons with the Green Bay Packers. That was before his four straight Pro Bowl, including two All-Pro and one Defensive Player of the Year, seasons for the Packers at corner/safety.
Then he played four more years. Woodson played until he was 39, and Sherman should be given at least two to three more years of slack before we start talking about the Seahawks rebuilding at secondary and moving on from a player some would argue has been their most valuable asset since 2011. He has one very affordable year left on his deal and as I’ve been arguing for months, they should be looking to extend him, not trade him.
Still, that is just my opinion on Sherman. What about the opinion of taking a cornerback in the first round?
Well, Griffin at 90 is still the highest Carroll and Schneider have ever drafted a cornerback. It’s not even close to 18th. It’s not even close to 30th, which is probably where Seattle will wind up after they trade down twice. (Most mocks avoid trades but I’d at least throw in a mention if I wrote a mock that “Seahawks are almost certainly going to trade down or out of the first round for the seventh straight year.”)
Regardless of how you feel about Oliver, the Seahawks have shown zero propensity to go early on a cornerback and 100% commitment to their philosophy of being able to find starter caliber cornerbacks in round four or later:
- Griffin came at the end of round three and was a huge buck in the trend.
- Sherman was a fifth round.
- Justin Coleman played excellently at slot and he cost them a seventh rounder in trade.
- Byron Maxwell was a sixth rounder.
- Brandon Browner was a free agent signee from the CFL.
- Jeremy Lane was a sixth rounder.
- Maxwell was re-signed for nothing and is probable to return on a very cheap deal.
- DeShawn Shead was a UDFA and is also likely to return on a cheap deal so he can rebuild his value for a run at free agency in 2019.
- The Seahawks also have Neiko Thorpe, DeAndre Elliott, and Mike Tyson right now.
All told, Seattle may be looking at a secondary of Sherman, Griffin, Coleman, Shead, Lane, Maxwell, Elliott, Thorpe, and Tyson to build their corner group (plus I’m sure late round picks and bargain shopping free agents) and Thomas, Hill, Thompson at safety, plus unknown-but-not-discounted futures for Kam and McDougald. The Derwin pick might make a tiny bit more sense, but I’d say both picks go so far against the grain based on Seattle’s draft history and needs that they’re a little nonsensical for January.
(Not that all Mocks aren’t nonsensical in January — and going forward.)
My opinion on the Seahawks first round pick begins with them trading down, then goes into their needs on offensive and defensive line, followed by an offensive weapon given that historically speaking, that’s what Carroll and Schneider do with their early picks. Some people might see a huge change in their trend this season, but they don’t explain why they’d make a change and therefore I’d have to assume they ignored it.
I just didn’t.