Moore: Seahawks should stay put at No. 21 in this year’s NFL draft
The NFL draft starts Thursday with the Seahawks having just four picks in the first, third, fourth and fifth rounds. Picks in the second, sixth and seventh rounds are gone because of trades last year, but most believe that general manager John Schneider will end up with six or seven picks after he makes a move or two on the first day of the draft.
When it’s time for the Seahawks to draft 21st overall in the first round, we pretty much know we’re going to hear that Seattle has traded the pick to another team to move down and get two lesser picks. The same scenario figures to play out with the best of those lesser picks being turned into two picks later in the draft with another trade.
I hope that doesn’t happen this year. I’d like to see the Seahawks take whomever they think is the best player available at No. 21. I don’t care if he’s a wide receiver, a guard, a defensive tackle, an edge rusher, a cornerback, just doesn’t matter to me. I’m not on board with quantity being better than quality with draft picks.
Schneider has shown that he can find future stars in the later rounds. But just like any other GM, he’s blown some picks too. For every Richard Sherman in the fifth round, there are far more fifth-rounders that have not panned out. Chances are great that he can find future starters and reliable special teamers in the middle-to-late rounds. But don’t you have a better chance of finding a real difference-maker at No. 21 than you do when you’re picking in the 100’s and later?
I’d rather see Schneider trade Frank Clark to supplement the four picks he already has. You might think that’s crazy, and you know what? You could be right. Over the weekend ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Seahawks are seeking a first-round pick in a Clark deal. Could they get that? Probably not.
The Chiefs traded Dee Ford to the 49ers for a second-round pick in March. Just like Clark, Ford had 13 sacks last year and also forced a league-high seven fumbles. With that as a precedent, I don’t think the Seahawks will get a first-rounder, but if they could get a second and a fifth, I would still make the trade because it would allow you to keep the No. 21 pick and free you from making a decision on whether to pay Clark $19 or $20 million a year in a contract extension.
I understand the rationale from those in the Keep Clark Camp. He’s the Seahawks’ only bona fide edge rusher. Jarran Reed had 10.5 sacks from the inside, and after that, your top sacker was Jacob Martin with three.
I don’t have anything of true substance to base my speculation on Clark, but here it is: I’d be reluctant to commit long-term to him. I’d take my chances with developing pass-rushers on the current roster and supplement that with a selection of a pass-rusher at No. 21 or one with the second-rounder you’d get for Clark.
Granted, it’s a big gamble. With Clark in 2018, the Seahawks had an average pass rush with 43 on the year. Without Clark, the Seahawks could have one of the worst sack totals in the league. You could also argue that they would find a way to compensate without Clark. A listener sent in an interesting text last week noting that Martin had three sacks in 225 snaps while Clark had 13 in 728 snaps. Would it be fair to project that Martin might have 10 sacks in 2019 if you gave him 728 snaps? Maybe, maybe not.
You’d still have Reed. You’d still have Quinton Jefferson, who had three sacks last year. You’re adding Cassius Marsh, who had 5.5 sacks with the 49ers last year. You might get more production from Naz Jones with a move from defensive tackle to defensive end. You could also blitz more often and pad your sack totals with Mychal Kendricks significantly adding to the two he had last year with increased playing time — if he’s still available after his sentencing for insider trading charges. Coach Pete Carroll also thinks second-year linebacker Shaquem Griffin could help with the pass rush this year in certain situations.
It’s probably ridiculous, but from what I see on Twitter from Clark, I’d hesitate to make him a fixture on my roster. Call it a gut feeling or whatever you want to call it, but let’s face it, we’ve seen it over and over again, some players, when they get paid, don’t live up to their contracts. I just think Clark could be one of those players.
Clark tweets all the time, and most of the time I don’t completely understand what he’s saying. I attribute some of this to being old and out of touch. I attribute the rest of it to Clark’s 140-character messages that frequently make anyone of any age go, “Huh?”
I’m no doubt going too far with this, but if I were the Seahawks, I’d take every one of his tweets to a psychologist and have them analyzed to help determine whether I want to trade Clark or give him an extension. Listen, if you’re making a $20 million-a-year decision, don’t you want to use every factor available to help you out?
If you think I’ve lost my mind with this suggestion, that’s fine, but don’t forget that we’re talking about a Seahawks’ team that asks prospects to participate in staring contests when they’re at the combine. So to have tweets analyzed doesn’t feel like it’s out of the realm of possibility with them.
It’s important to point out that I was wrong about Tyler Lockett last year. I didn’t think he deserved an extension that averaged $10 million a year, but after the season he had in 2018, the Seahawks might have gotten him at a bargain price. So if I’m off on Clark too, he’ll get $20 million a year and lead the league with 20 sacks in 2019.
We won’t find out what the Seahawks plan to do until sometime Thursday evening when they’re on the clock. But I’m hoping they’ll trade Clark and keep the 21st pick.