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Clayton: Breaking down Seahawks picks Rashaad Penny, Rasheem Green

New Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny led the nation in broken tackles last year. (AP)

Once again, Seahawks general manager John Schneider navigated himself through a difficult draft situation.

Minus second- and third-round picks this year and a second-round pick next year, Schneider knew it was going to be a tough challenge to fill the voids. Sure, an Earl Thomas trade could have helped, but it never materialized.

Seahawks draft pick profiles: Rashaad Penny | Rasheem Green

Nevertheless, Schneider made a pair of trades that netted a third-round choice, a sixth-rounder and an extra seventh-rounder. With the third-rounder he grabbed USC defensive end Rasheem Green, a much needed pass-rusher. He was also able to re-sign cornerback Byron Maxwell on Friday to fix the depth problem at cornerback.

Now, Schneider heads into the final day of the draft with eight draft choices for the Seahawks and plenty of room to maneuver.

Here is what we learned the first two days of the draft.

Pete Carroll’s desire to run the football remained the most important part of this offseason. Schneider and Carroll identified San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny as the back they wanted to upgrade the backfield. Penny checked more boxes than the other available backs. He’s fast (4.46 40-yard dash time). He’s low to the ground and powerful, coming in at 5 foot 11 and 220 pounds (and expected to play at 230). He can catch the football. Penny was the best back in college football last year after contact with 80 broken tackles. And he’s confident but humble.

• Schneider would have taken Penny with the Seahawks’ original first-round pick at No. 18, but he wanted to trade down. For a while, things looked bleak. The trade market wasn’t good until the Green Bay Packers stepped up and offered a third and a sixth. At least he was able to fill one of the two holes in Seattle’s draft between rounds one and four.

• Schneider almost made another trade Thursday that might have gained at least another third-round pick, but he stopped himself at the last minute. As he contemplated a trade back, he realized Penny would be gone by the time the Seahawks would have finally made their first pick. Penny was too important to sacrifice for a third-rounder.

• Even though most draft pundits didn’t have Penny in their top five, analytics analysts had higher evaluations. Penny was taken over Georgia’s Sony Michel because Michel has a long history of injuries. Penny was durable in college and wasn’t overused during his career. Penny also didn’t have any character issues, unlike LSU’s Derrius Guice.

• Schneider didn’t reveal the team that called him after he selected Penny to see if he would trade him, something that Schneider said had never happened before in his NFL career. People at San Diego State wouldn’t have been surprised if that team was the New England Patriots, whose spent a lot of time talking to the Aztecs coaches about Penny. After the Penny selection, the Patriots drafted Michel.

• An Earl Thomas deal wasn’t really going to happen. The Cowboys couldn’t offer their first-round pick, and chances of trading their second-rounder faded when they created two needs on offense: wide receiver after releasing Dez Bryant and tight end with the retirement of Jason Witten. The Cowboys ended up getting their receiver in the third round in Michael Gallup.

• The Seahawks had to love the way the third round was shaping up at pass-rusher. Only six edge-rushers went in the first 75 picks. Schneider knew he could get Green or Ohio State’s Sam Hubbard. That gave him the confidence to make a trade with Pittsburgh, picking up a seventh-round pick and moving down just three spots in the third, where he could still get Green. The Steelers took quarterback Mason Rudolph with Seattle’s initial No. 76 pick, which the Seahawks received the day before from Green Bay.

• Green has a chance to fill the Michael Bennett role. He will be the 5-technique at defensive end and move inside on passing downs. Nice fit.

Seahawks draft tracker | UW’s Vea goes to Bucs | Pettis to 49ers

John Clayton on 710 ESPN Seattle
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