With the Seattle Seahawks out of the playoffs and the New Orleans Saints still alive with rookie tackle Ryan Ramczyk playing at a high level, there have been groans and lamentations from commenters regarding the fact that Ramczyk was available for them to take … twice. Ramczyk was still on the board at 26 when Seattle traded back with Atlanta to 31, where Ramczyk was available to the Hawks a second time. Once again, however, John Schneider chose to trade back into the second round, where the pick was used on the ill-fated Malik McDowell.
As all fans know, McDowell has yet to play or even practice for the Hawks, having spent the entirety of 2017 on the non-football injury list following an ATV accident about which little is known. In any case, fans are still in an uproar that Ramczyk was allowed to fall to New Orleans not once, but twice, but this ignores a key trait of every single player drafted in the first or second round by Schneider since his arrival in the Pacific Northwest in 2010.
Here is a table of every first and second round draft choice that the Seahawks have made in the last eight drafts.
Most fans are familiar with the names on that list, so that table isn’t presenting anything new that most are not already aware of. However, something interesting happens when just a single additional column is added.
And there we see that every single player John Schneider has drafted in the first two rounds during his tenure as the general manager for the Seahawks has been a starter for at least two full seasons in college. There have been zero exceptions to this, so while the sample size is still limited to just fourteen players, Schneider definitely seems to have a preference for players who have multiple years starting in college.
In addition, there may have been other factors at play. After Wisconsin’s 2016 season ended, Ramczyk had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip. Labral repair surgery is no joke, whether in the hip or shoulder, and the last time Schneider used a first round pick to acquire an impact player from the upper midwest, it did not work out so well in the long run. Surgery on a torn labrum in the hip can have a recovery of 4-6 months, so it was possible Ramczyk was looking at missing OTAs and potentially the start of training camp if there were any complications. Obviously Ramczyk healed up just fine post op, and his play on the field shows that, but that does nothing to change the fact that both times the Seahawks had an opportunity to draft Ramczyk, they passed for what could be considered very legitimate reasons.
In contrast, when the Saints drafted Ramczyk, they drafted him while already having two starting tackles on the roster. With Terron Armstead entering the second year of a five-year, $65M contract at left tackle, and Zach Strief who had only missed two games in the last four seasons at right tackle, the need for a tackle did not seem that great. However, just six weeks later Armstead tore the labrum in his shoulder during organized team activities, and missed the first four games of the season before returning to play in ten of the final twelve games. Making matter worse, Strief went down with a knee injury in the season opener, and the injury kept him out of the lineup until Week 4. When he returned to the field, he immediately aggravated the injury, and just days after returning from London where the team had played the Miami Dolphins in Week 4, Strief was placed on injured reserve. In November it was reported that Strief finally had surgery to repair both his ACL and his MCL after hoping to allow them to heal without surgery.
In any case, Ramczyk did not have the playing time in D-I in college that it appears Schneider prefers for his top picks, and he was also coming off a major hip surgery. So, while fans may be upset that the Seahawks left meat on the bone by letting Ramczyk slip through their fingers not once but twice, just imagine how upset fans would be if there had been a complication with his hip surgery and the team used its first draft pick on a player who would not even suit up in their first year with the team.