BY Art Thiel 06:05PM 04/23/2018

Thiel: No ‘making excuses’ in Seahawks draft

In part because of the Malik McDowell episode, Pete Carroll and John Schneider say they’ve revised how they’re approaching the draft this week.

GM John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll have trimmed down their draft board. / Seahawks.com

To listen to John Schneider and Pete Carroll tell it, one of the reasons the Seahawks find themselves in a tumultuous offseason is that they permitted too many cooks to spoil the stew of recent NFL drafts.

Ahead of the start of the draft that begins with the first round Thursday, the coach and general manager admitted at a press conference Monday that in recent drafts, they let the their board numbers — the pool of players under Seattle’s consideration — get out of hand, to the point where it became unwieldy.

“For one reason or another, we continued to add more and more players (to the draft board),” Schneider said. “It was just too much.”

Schneider called the bloat “making excuses” for deficiencies in areas of health, psychology and character that should have eliminated players from consideration.

“Sometimes, you can make excuses in all those areas because a guy has a specific skill-set,” he said. “What happens is you kind of ignore some of those red flags if you feel you have a specific need. It’s happened in the past, it’ll probably happen in the future. We just want to limit those.

“You never truly know the whole package. You never know what’s in a man’s heart. We’re just working our tails off to try to find it out.”

While Schneider didn’t mention him by name, the reference was plain: The Seahawks had a lost season from their top pick a year ago, Michigan State DE Malik McDowell. Taken in the second round with the 35th overall pick, McDowell, then 20, was considered a top-10 talent but fell out of the first round over questions of maturity and character.

The Seahawks took the risk anyway, and were stunned to learn that an ATV accident in July in Michigan left him with a serious concussion. No police report or news report of the episode has emerged, and the Seahawks have remained mysteriously sketchy about the accident and his future with the club, including Monday.

“There’s a lot of things we can’t get into,” Schneider said. “It’s a really unfortunate situation, on both sides.”

But there’s no dispute that he didn’t play a down in 2017. Carroll wrote off the episode as an example of the unforeseeable.

“Some things you can’t predict; there’s nothing you can do about it,” he said. “Last year, our guy didn’t get a chance to play for us, and we were disappointed in that. There was nothing to tell us that was going to happen.”

While it’s likely that no one in pre-draft meetings should have been expected to ask McDowell, “What would you do if someone gave you an ATV?” the fact remains that other teams saw a first-round talent with higher risk, and passed.

But the Seahawks had a big need for a young pass rusher. They made the mistake of prioritizing need over the best available player.

Asked if, in scouting his past draft selections, it was fair to say he has sometimes chosen need over the best player, Schneider was candid.

“I think that’s fair in a couple of instances, sure,” And the fix?

“Doing a better job; being aware of it,” he said. ” It’s not like we have our heads in the sand. You can’t just go out there and create the perfect player. Otherwise we would be outside picking them off trees.

“Every (player) has deficiencies. We try to find guys where we can limit deficiencies and work with their strengths.”

A second episode occurred in 2013, when the Seahawks chose to ignore the red flags about WR Percy Harvin and gave a first-round pick to Minnesota for the mercurial talent. Harvin had some spectacular moments and helped the Seahawks win a Super Bowl, but his practice fights with Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin, along with refusing to obey coaches, prompted the Seahawks to dump him at mid-season.

The McDowell selection ripples into this week because the Seahawks still have need of a young pass rusher. To fill in for McDowell in 2017, the Seahawks traded WR Jermaine Kearse and a second-round pick to the Jets for DT Sheldon Richardson. But he left in free agency, so the Seahawks were left with nothing from the costly transaction.

The Seahawks at the moment have the 18th pick in first round, but after that, won’t pick until the fourth round because their third-round pick went to Houston in a midseason trade for LT Duane Brown.

History and logic say the Seahawks are a decent bet to trade back in the first round to acquire more selections. Because of age, injuries and contracts pressing against the salary cap, the Seahawks are more needy at more positions that at any time in the Carroll/Schneider era.

Carroll said the reforms adopted for the draft will pay off.

“We’ve taken another step in refining the process,” he said. “I think we’re more precise about some things, and the information that we’re gathering. It’s allowed John to clean the board up more clearly than ever.

“We might not have as many numbers on the board because we’re more tuned in to specifically to guys that really fit. I think it’s a really positive thing. And it has to do with a lot of (other) factors too. It has to do with the background people that are helping us with our information-gathering and the assessment of it. We’re just better than we’ve been.”

Seattle fans figure to see that as belated but important development, because the Seahawks in the Carroll era haven’t had so many needs be so urgent.

 

 


YourThoughts

  • Ron

    Not buying that considering John has recently been adding extra names like Josh Allen and Vita Vea to his board.

    • art thiel

      As does every GM, Schneider tracks every active and inactive player. He tries to lay eyes on the top three dozen or so in the event that tumult elsewhere in the league makes available a guy he never thought he had a chance with. Think Marshawn Lynch in Buffalo.

  • Theyfinallyfiredcable

    Well I’m glad to hear he won’t be “making excuses” , cause no one’s gonna wanna hear any if he screws this draft up again . Of course , it usually takes a couple of years to really go back and honestly evaluate a draft class . And therein lies the problem ; we don’t have 2 years for these guys to develop – they have to perform this season , they can’t be bench warmers .

    Nick Vannet is a perfect example . The man was a 3rd round pick if I recall correctly , and quite honestly he hasn’t done crap in 3 years . Prosise is another . That simply can’t happen with this draft class . Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson need to show something as well . You can’t keep throwing away your 1st round picks , swing and miss on your 3rd and 4th rounders and expect to succeed .

    We need a bona fide running back , offensive line help , tight ends , pass rushing defensive ends , linebacker depth and safety and cornerbacks in the secondary . Oh , and a backup quarterback to develop . That’s a tall order with no 2nd or 3rd round pick . Herr Schneider better roll up his sleeves ..

    • art thiel

      Your observation is why I written several times that events have overtaken the Seahawks plans. Injuries, age, salary cap, draft whiffs, especially McDowell. All created too many holes at once at time when they have the least amount of spray foam to fill the voids.

  • tor5

    I have to give Pete and John credit for shaking things up after 9-7. We can argue about their strategy, but we can’t say they’re not trying.

    But I have to wonder about how draft success is evaluated. It’s easy to point to busts and say they messed up. But the standard should be some kind of hits-to-misses ratio relative to other teams. It reminds me a lot of picking investment stocks. The best guess of the value of a stock is the collective wisdom of the market. All the brokers are trying to outsmart that collective wisdom, but when you look at hit and misses over time, almost no one beats the market…except Warren Buffet. Maybe the only way to get an edge is to bring in Warren Buffet on draft day. Paul Allen should recruit him hard.

    • art thiel

      The problem with the stock analogy is that health is such a variable that it screws up any value judgment. Also team situations. Look at Garappolo. A second-rounder behind Brady. How do you rate that?

      • tor5

        I agree. My point is more that we judge our team for busts and picks who start or make the pro bowl, but often there is no standard of comparison. All teams have busts, so the only fair criterion is how we stack up against some league average of hits and misses over time. My general sense is that the NFL is still stuck in a pre-Moneyball approach where talent evaluation is relatively crude and subjective…albeit the models for football would have to be more complicated given injury rates and team need, as you note. I defer to your expertise on this.

  • Bruce McDermott

    “There was nothing that was going to tell us that was going to happen.” No, but perhaps there were things that were going to tell you that something LIKE that was MORE likely to happen with McDowell than with many other players available at that pick. Both Schneider and Carroll know this. They just won’t directly admit it. Instead, we get oblique references to “making fewer excuses for guys”…

    • Theyfinallyfiredcable

      Bingo . There were plenty of red flags on the guy pre-draft , they just chose to ignore them because Pete thought he could fix it . Having said that , there were lots of red flags about Frank Clark too , and the guy has been a model citizen thus far , and is playing beyond any hopes I initially had for him . It’s definitely a bit of a crap shoot , but John and Pete need to be more prudent going forward.

      • art thiel

        No, Frank hasn’t been a model citizen. Google Clark and fish tank.

        At least obliquely, Schneider and Carroll are trying to own up.

    • art thiel

      True. Schneider knows what a red flag is. McDowell had them. Schneider ignored them, as they ignored Harvin’s.

      Then again, look at the mess the 49ers are in with Foster. John Lynch ignored the red flags. Every GM does it at least once.

  • Theyfinallyfiredcable

    Interesting mock draft by Chad Rueter over at NFL.com , the only one I’ve seen so far predicting we trade out of 18 . He has us swapping first rounders with Carolina and picking up a third round pick in exchange . Here’s his 7 round mock for the Seahawks :

    Seattle Seahawks

    Round 1 (24) Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
    Round 3 (85) Andrew Brown, DT, Virginia
    Round 4 (120) DeShon Elliott, S, Texas
    Round 5 (141) Breeland Speaks, DE, Mississippi
    Round 5 (146) John Kelly, RB, Tennessee
    Round 5 (156) Keke Coutee, WR, Texas Tech
    Round 5 (168) Anthony Coyle, OT, Fordham
    Round 7 (226) Kentavius Street, DE, N.C. State
    Round 7 (248) Eddy Pineiro, K, Florida

    Highly doubtful we draft a kicker in the 7th having signed Janikowski , but I like the looks of this draft overall , it addresses a lot of needs .

    • art thiel

      Not bad. I’ve read much to be impressed by with Alexander. However, I’m guessing best D-lineman available at 18. If they trade Thomas or Wilson, they’ll move up to get Derwin James of FSU, the next Chancellor.

      • Theyfinallyfiredcable

        Art , do you really believe they’ll trade Wilson this year ?! If they trade Russell Wilson this year , they damn well better trade Thomas too, because it’s a wholesale rebuild ..

        I like the idea of a corner at 18 , but Jaire is 5’10” , and we have the nickel back already covered with Coleman . Rueter’s mock shows Josh Jackson undrafted in the 1st , and I’d take him over Alexander . Gotta love that 38″ vertical at the combine !

        • art thiel

          I never said I believed they would do it, just that business logic, not field play, demands the Seahawks consider it. If they did trade him, I would not be shocked, presuming they move up to draft among the top QBs.

  • Centiorari

    Interesting part of the draft is you get the best picture so far of what the office actually thinks of the current situation. They draft a QB in the first 3 rounds, oh well, it really is a rebuild year and Wilson may be out of a job if the QB develops. They draft a CB high, no confidence in any of the developing CB on roster and Maxwell is not likely to sign. They go for DL, CB/LB, WR with their early picks it likely means they think scheme, coaching and health alone is going to be enough to get the running game going. Do they go for the thinnest draft positions first over greatest need, well that may mean they don’t expect the playoffs this year and are going for a 2 year rebuild approach regardless of what has been said. Plenty can be surmised from their actions if you are willing to read between the lines and accept it is just meaningful guessing of intentions.

    • art thiel

      Keep in mind that this time, the Seahawks have more needs at more positions than all but the first year under Carroll. If they use the one at 18, it’s going to be for an immediate contributor — unless they take Lamar Jackson.

  • Alan Harrison

    Malik and Frank and Percy and the rest. There were red flags all over the place. But this was the anti-previous-regime strategy, a regime that brought in high-character, slightly less-than-perfect physical traits. Despite that, they got a couple of drafts right. Since then, however, less than perfect. Even Bruce Irvin was a bad pick (because, except for dubious after-the-fact accounts that he was highly sought-after, they could have gotten him in the second round). On the other hand, I actually saw a mock draft that made some sense. CBS, R.J. White, of whom I’ve never heard, did one with mock trades as well (in fact, only 2 picks were theirs to begin with and one they had to trade to get back again). If they could do as well as this and still pick up JT Barrett as a UFA, I’d be happy.

    2 35 Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn from CLE/HOU
    2 64 Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn from CLE/PHI
    3 95 Joseph Noteboom, OT, TCU from NE
    4 120 Tyquan Lewis, DE/DT, Ohio State
    5 141 Terrell Edmunds, FS, Virginia Tech from HOU
    5 156 Colby Gossett, G, Appalachian State from PHI/SEA
    5 159 Poona Ford, DT, Texas from OAK/NE/CLE/KC
    6 212 Dylan Cantrell, WR, Texas Tech from OAK
    7 226 Will Dissly, TE, Washington from NYJ
    7 248 Natrell Jamerson, SS, Wisconsin from MIN

    • art thiel

      SeaTimes today had Edmunds going to SEA with their first pick. I’ll have to look up how White arrived at the Seahawks having two seconds and a third just by trading back.

      • Alan Harrison

        Remember there’s a Terrell and a Tremaine Edmunds. Tremaine is probably the first round pick. I don’t buy the Times any more, but I’m guessing they didn’t make that boo-boo.

  • Husky73

    The NFL draft is second in the marketing hype of the NFL, only trailing the Super Bowl. Like the game itself, it is made out to be only truly understood by Sheldon Cooper. 11 on 11 and the draft are not that complicated, but the NFL mythologizes them as string theory or dark matter. The Seahawks have the 18th pick. Pick a guy that can help the team, isn’t a felon, and won’t be trouble in the locker room or in the community. It’s not that hard.

    • art thiel

      It’s harder than you describe. Think of your experiences in the workplace and ask yourself how many times you said, “We hired that guy?!”

      • Husky73

        There is truth to that, BUT a generation ago football players were perceived to be thick sculled, drooling tackling dummies (the dumb jock). Now, the NFL has convinced us that only Stephen Hawking (or John Gruden) can actually figure this game out, and understanding cover 2 is worthy of a Nobel Prize.

  • ss

    Difficult to blame McDowell for the Offensive offensive line play over the last two years or the money management that leads to big contracts coming up for renewal at the same time.

    • art thiel

      Plenty of blame to go around. It would be nice of McDowell had the grace to say in person to SEA fans, “My bad. Sorry.”