Seahawks GM Schneider: Team had ‘so much conviction’ taking Brooks
With the 2020 NFL Draft in the rear view mirror, Seahawks general manager John Schneider is able to reflect on his most recent draft class, which brings eight new players to Seattle.
Schneider, who started his career as a scout before ultimately becoming Seattle’s general manager in 2010, is always jacked up for the draft and told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant that he’s thrilled with the players the team selected last weekend.
“We’re excited, fired up for all the new guys and everybody’s working with the coaches now virtually – they started that on Monday – and we’re excited to get going and keep building this thing,” said Schneider, whose Seahawks teams have gone to the playoffs eight times in his 10 seasons running the team.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) April 25, 2020
This draft, and everything leading up to it, was much different due to the coronavirus. Because of the disease, NFL facilities were essentially shut down, which ended prospect visits for teams.
While some things were more unclear, Schneider said one thing that was likely was the selection of a linebacker in the first round. That ultimately happened, as the Seahawks snagged Texas Tech’s Jordyn Brooks with the 27th selection.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) April 24, 2020
“We had a pretty strong feeling that the three linebackers might be of the group (of) the position that may fall and the receivers all started flying off, which we all thought may happen as it was a very strong receiver class at the top,” Schneider said.
Those three linebackers Schneider mentioned were Brooks, LSU’s Patrick Queen, who the Baltimore Ravens selected with the very next pick, and Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray, who was the first linebacker selected going 23rd overall to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Even though Murray went first, the Seahawks were seemingly focused on taking Brooks.
“It was a decision of if one of those linebackers is still there, we’re not going to back out and with Jordyn, everybody had so much conviction,” Schneider said. ” … There were three linebackers there and all three are incredible players. Jordyn was the guy that fit us best and we had the most buy-in from everybody, so we were extremely excited to get him.”
One thing that Brooks certainly adds to Seattle’s defense is speed.
“He ran 4.46 (seconds in the 40-yard dash) at the combine after (only) working out for like a week (due to a shoulder injury) to get ready for it, so we were really excited about him,” Schneider said.
Addressing the pass rush
After securing Brooks in the first round, the Seahawks turned their focus to improving the pass rush. And the man they wanted for that job was Tennessee’s Darrell Taylor, who Schneider traded up to take.
Seattle originally had four picks in the first three rounds, including two second-round picks and the 101st pick, which was at the end of the third round. In order to secure Taylor, Schneider shipped the team’s first second-rounder (59th overall) and their third-round pick to the New York Jets for the 48th pick.
How bout that! 🗣@darrelltaylorst is coming to the PNW!
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) April 25, 2020
“We knew that if we drafted one of the linebackers we were going to have to work our tail off to try and get back up in the second (round) and I’ve got to be honest with you, I didn’t feel very good about being able to get back up to acquire Darrell,” Schneider said. “But I think because of having surgery after the season, not being able to play in the All-Star games or participate in the combine, I think we were really blessed in that regard. He might not like hearing that. But the draft is evaluation and it is also about trying to figure out how to study and plan on where you take guys.”
In addition to Taylor, the Seahawks also drafted Syracuse defensive end Alton Robinson in the fifth round. Those two, along with Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa, are all new pass rushers for the Seahawks in 2020.
Seattle had the second-fewest sacks in the NFL in 2019 with 28 and boosting that group was a priority. Although the Seahawks haven’t been able to re-sign defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, which Schneider has said could still happen, the GM thinks that group is in a good place.
“I think being able to get Bruce back and Benson back, those guys that had (15.5) sacks combined (in 2019) and then going into the draft and being able to Alton (Robinson) and Darrell was huge for us. We’re just really excited,” Schneider said. “(Taylor and Robinson) were players that we had identified that we really wanted at a specific spot and really wanted to acquire them quite honestly, we would have considered Darrell with our first pick.”
Competition is on
Three groups that the Seahawks were loaded with players heading into the draft were linebacker, offensive line and tight end. Naturally, three of Seattle’s first four picks were players at that position, and Seattle’s last pick, LSU’s Stephen Sullivan, is a tight end as well.
As you’d expect from a Pete Carroll-led football team, the competition is on for playing time and roster spots.
“We’re going to acquire as many good players, regardless of position, as we possibly can and you’ll see us continue to do that as we shape this roster,” Schneider said.
Additionally, those three, along with the rest of the class, are players that Schneider believes are ready to be pros. That’s critical for this offseason because so much is up in the air and players will be practicing and studying virtually for the time being.
“In a unique year, we’ve focused on people that don’t have to have their hands held as much as others would in previous years, so you’re not necessarily throwing a dart at a guy that has a really good upside or is just a height/weight/speed guy,” he said. “Really, those types of players were eliminated based on the fact that we didn’t have the pro days, so we didn’t have guys that did not receive very good fall grades and then all of the sudden would pop up as testing phenoms.”
You can listen to the full interview with Schneider at this link or in the player below.