Clayton: Seahawks made most of draft, but they still have 1 big area of need
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said it best in his post-NFL Draft press conference Saturday: More work needs to be done with the roster.
Specifically, the Seahawks need more help at defensive end. First-round pick L.J. Collier (TCU) should help as a 5-technique but the Seahawks are still missing that speed-rushing defensive end for replace Frank Clark.
General manager John Schneider pointed out that the draft is the second phase of building the roster. A pass-rusher is needed in the third phase, which begins May 7 when unrestricted free agency ends. At that point, unrestricted free agents turn into street free agents, and that means if the Seahawks sign any of those players, it won’t cost them 2020 compensatory draft picks.
That’s the reason why the Seahawks haven’t signed an unrestricted free agent pass-rusher yet – it would cost them a compensatory pick. As it stands, the Seahawks are expected to have four compensatory picks next year: one each in the third, fourth, sixth and seventh rounds.
Factor those picks in, and entering Saturday the Seahawks knew they had 12 selections in next year’s draft. Having that many picks allowed them to trade back into the seventh round after we thought they were done on Saturday, sending a 2020 sixth-rounder to Jacksonville so they could take slot receiver John Ursua (Hawaii), who might help fill some of the void at receiver if Doug Baldwin retires.
The Seahawks still can sign former Green Bay Packers pass-rusher Nick Perry anytime because he had been cut and wouldn’t count against the compensatory pick formula. Or, after May 7, they could also use some the $17 million savings they created by trading Frank Clark to Kansas City and go after Connor Barwin, Ziggy Ansah or another available defensive end.
Thanks to the Clark trade, the Seahawks exceeded expectations in the draft. As the draft approached, Carroll thought Schneider might be able to trade back and get as many as seven total choices. They had just four before the Clark trade on Tuesday. Schneider ended up being able to turn that into 11.
A couple months ago, Carroll said the Seahawks’ roster was deep enough that it was going to be hard for new players to make the roster. The 11-player draft now gives Carroll the same feeling that he had in 2013 and 2014 when the roster was loaded.
The Clark trade allowed Schneider to have fun swapping picks. His trade down from the first round got Seattle a third-rounder from the Carolina Panthers, which then gave him the chance to trade into the second round and draft D.K. Metcalf (Ole Miss), a tall, 233-pound wide receiver who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds at the combine.
Carroll couldn’t believe Metcalf fell to the 64th pick. His selection was a luxury.
The news that Baldwin might be at the end of his career created some urgency for the Seahawks to get receiving help. They did that by adding Metcalf, Gary Jennings (West Virginia) and Ursua.
The Seahawks went back to their old ways of player selection. They went after alpha dogs who have attitude and play with a chip on their shoulder. They went after players with punch-you-in-the-mouth mentalities, players who are physical.
Collier has a great bull-rush from his defensive end position. Safety Marquise Blair (Utah) reminds some of Kam Chancellor with how hard he hits. Metcalf and Jennings are receivers who love to block on running plays.
Another theme from this draft is how competition will intensify on special teams. Linebackers Cody Barton (Utah) and Ben Burr-Kirven (UW), defensive backs Blair and Ugochukwu Amadi (Oregon), and running back Travis Homer (Miami) will press veterans for playing time on coverage teams.
Having the extra draft choices also allowed the Seahawks to add at offensive guard (Wake Forest’s Phil Haynes) and in the backfield (Homer). Those were positions the Seahawks could have ignored because they have depth at those spots.
This team is deeper, but more work is needed to make sure it’s better than last year.
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