John Schneider on the importance, challenge of identifying toughness
RENTON – Seahawks general manager John Schneider walked into a room full of reporters at team headquarters Wednesday, sat down at the head of the table and was jokingly asked if the single piece of paper he had in his hand was a list of players Seattle planned to draft.
“Yeah,” Schneider said, not missing a beat. “I’ve got all of our picks right here. All 11.”
If only. Schneider, of course, didn’t reveal anything specific about the Seahawks’ plans during his annual pre-draft press conference, but he did talk about one of the essential qualities for any player they might choose: the toughness to survive in the hyper-competitive culture that Seattle has established.
Schneider used Seattle’s secondary as an example, saying that a defensive back prospect is “going to need to have specific characteristics in order to come in and be able to sit in a room with Earl and Kam and Sherm and those guys – and Cary now. You’ve have to have some unique qualities about you to be able to compete with those guys.
“The same thing on the opposite side of the ball when you talk about the receivers now. They’re going against those guys all day, so they can’t blink, they can’t back down, so you have to be able to get those questions answered along the way: ‘OK, this guy’s not going to back down. He’s going to compete every day.'”
Schneider recalled how in 2010, when he and coach Pete Carroll took over in Seattle, they identified Pittsburgh and Baltimore as the two most physical teams in the NFL. The Seahawks had a long way to get there.
“That’s where we have to be,” Schneider remembered thinking. “That’s the standard. We have to get there. We have to get smart, tough, reliable football players and we have to be able to field a team that is going to be able to play you anywhere, no matter what kind of weather you are playing in.”
Identifying those types of players is easier said than done, though.
“There’s no golden wand or anything to just put it in somebody and find out what they have in their heart, what’s going to drive them and what’s going to be their passion,” he said. “… You have to be able to have all the information you can possibly have.”
Part of that information-gathering process includes having the team’s sports psychologists meet with certain prospects whom Seattle has interest in but also questions about. Schneider said the team is meeting this week with those sports psychologists to discuss what they’ve learned.