Seahawks’ John Schneider: Approach with 5th pick, team’s 2022 success

Jan 20, 2023, 4:15 PM
Seahawks Tariq Woolen...
Tariq Woolen of the Seattle Seahawks reacts against the New York Giants at Lumen Field on October 30, 2022. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Seahawks general manager John Schneider hit the Seattle Sports 710 AM airwaves on Thursday during an offseason visit with Wyman and Bob.

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There was plenty to discuss during the interview, including reflecting on this past season and looking ahead to a big NFL Draft in April.

Here’s a bit of what Schneider said Thursday afternoon.

How 2022 was a “huge success”

The Seahawks weren’t expected to compete in 2022. Many analysts thought they’d be among the league’s worst teams this season.

But the Hawks went 9-8 and made the playoffs.

While expectations inside the organization are obviously different than outside, did Schneider think this past season was a success?

“It’s a huge success in what we all would have considered a transition season. We knew where we were, right?” he said.

The Seahawks parted ways with two franchise icons in quarterback Russell Wilson (blockbuster trade) and linebacker Bobby Wagner (a “cap casualty” relase).

“You’re talking about two of the best players to ever play for this franchise,” Schneider said. “Look, the whole organization … we put the walls up and we hunkered down. We took a lot of crud all summer. I was just really, really proud of everybody … not getting down in the dumps and listening to too much outside noise.”

“There’s a lot of really cool things that went into this season,” he later added. ” … Yes, very successful in a transition season. It’s probably a little bit too close to it (still) to say like, yes, that was amazing, but a lot of people did a lot of great things, so yes, I’m proud of that. But we know we have a lot of work to do here.”

The approach at 5th overall

The Seahawks find themselves in unfamiliar territory when it comes to the NFL Draft.

For just the second time since 2010 – Schneider’s first year as Seahawks GM – Seattle will pick in the top 10 of the draft.

That’s not because the Seahawks struggled, but rather Wilson’s new team – the Broncos – were among the NFL’s worst teams in 2022. Thanks to that deal, the Hawks own the fifth overall pick in addition to the 20th pick of the first round.

Thanks to that trade, Seattle picked left tackle Charles Cross ninth overall in last year’s draft. In 2010, Schneider took left tackle Russell Okung sixth overall.

Does having such a high pick change the Seahawks’ draft philosophy?

“Not the choice of player, it’s the options that are available to you because it’s such a high pick,” Schneider said, referencing trading with other teams. So Indy losing that (Week 18) game really hurt, obviously Denver winning that (last) game (hurt) otherwise we’d have had the third pick. But even that difference between three and five, in terms of moving around, the value of that pick is really important. I’ve only been involved with it one time this high.”

When Schneider worked for the Green Bay Packers’ front office, they drafted linebacker A.J. Hawk fifth overall back in 2006. Schneider said they decided between Hawk and tight end Vernon Davis, who was selected by the San Francisco 49ers with the very next pick. As Seahawks GM, this will be his highest selection ever if the team doesn’t trade down.

“The value of that pick … there’s a lot of compensation that comes your way up there, a lot of opportunities,” he said. “But in terms of when you’re on the clock and picking, no, it’s the best football player.”

Emergence of Woolen and Bryant

The Seahawks will look to replicate their draft success for the second year in a row as last year’s draft haul was ranked as the best in the league by ESPN.

Seattle got franchise offensive tackles in Cross and third-rounder Abraham Lucas, as well as a 1,000-yard rusher in Kenneth Walker III.

But the Seahawks also found two long-term answers in the secondary on Day 3 of the draft.

In the fourth round, Seattle selected defensive back Coby Bryant out of Cincinnati. He was the 2021 Jim Thorpe Award winner as the nation’s top defensive back.

In the fifth round, the Seahawks took UTSA’s Tariq Woolen, a former receiver who tested well at the combine but had limited experience at cornerback.

Bryant played well as the team’s go-to nickel corner while Woolen emerged as one of the league’s top cornerbacks, leading the NFL in opponent passer rating and tying for the league lead in interceptions.

Did Schneider see that kind of performance coming from Woolen in Year 1?

“No, no,” he said. “And to his credit, and the coaching staff’s credit, I mean, they were on him right away. (Head coach Pete Carroll) took a ton of interest in him in terms of personal development – because you guys know how much he loves the DBs – and Tariq bought in right away and wanted to be a pro and impressed right away. His teammates were impressed, and everything just kind of built on itself.”

Bryant also impressed the Seahawks as a rookie, Schneider said.

“And same thing with Coby. I mean, Coby was playing outside (cornerback) and we moved Coby inside (later in the offseason) and that’s a lot to handle. There’s a lot going on in there,” he said. “But hey, physical guy, really good instincts, can play inside, can play outside.”

That duo now has a lot more experience, and they know what the expectations are, especially after last week’s loss to the 49ers.

“When I talked about playing San Francisco that last game, I mean, here these guys are, Tariq and Coby, and they did not have their their best games. So they know, OK, that’s the standard,” Schneider said. “… They know that they have to play against (Brandon) Aiyuk and Deebo (Samuel) and (George) Kittle and what that looks like, and that’s a bar that they know they have to improve upon.”

Listen to the full interview with Schneider at this link or in the player below.

Fann: 3 notable takeaways from Seahawks GM John Schneider’s interview

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