RENTON — John Schneider and Pete Carroll sat down to explain the thoughts behind the newest additions to the Seattle Seahawks before the NFL draft was even complete.
Yes, making just three picks created some weird circumstances for the traditionally pick-heavy Seahawks.
“Unique is the word we keep using and it was just very interesting to watch everybody work their way through this draft, and talk to other teams and how they viewed things,” Schneider said.
Seattle wrapped up its thinnest draft in franchise history on Saturday adding Oklahoma cornerback Tre Brown in the fourth-round and Florida offensive tackle Stone Forsythe in the sixth to go along with Western Michigan wide receiver D’Wayne Eskridge selected in the second round.
The three picks were tied for the second fewest by any team since the common draft began in 1967. Only New Orleans with one pick in 1999 — after trading most of its draft to acquire running back Ricky Williams — made fewer selections.
But if there was a list of positional needs for Seattle, it seemed to check off three of the top priorities.
BREAKING THE MOLD
For the longest time it seemed only players that had specific measurables — height, arm length, speed — could play an outside cornerback position for the Seahawks. Seattle seems to be breaking somewhat from those requirements. It started last year when 5-foot-9 D.J. Reed was thrust into a prominent role and thrived, earning himself a likely starting spot going into this 2021 season.
And it continued with the selection of Brown in the fourth round. He stands 5-9 as well, but his coverage skills were among the best in the pass-happy Big 12. Per Pro Football Focus, Brown had the lowest passer rating allowed in single coverage of any cornerback in the entire draft.
Brown is a physical player, although that sometimes got him in trouble at Oklahoma, and should not be characterized as just an inside slot option because of his size.
“I will play wherever they want me to play,” Brown said. “If they need me inside, I go in there and play inside and contribute right out of the gate. If they need me to play outside, I can also do that. My range is pretty wide. It doesn’t matter.”
When Seattle made the decision to go with Eskridge in the second round while a number of the top centers were still available, it was a clear sign the Seahawks intend to move forward with the interior of its offensive line mostly set.
That meant the Seahawks could look elsewhere on the offensive line and led to the selection of Forsythe in the sixth round. Seattle traded its sixth- and seventh-round picks to Chicago to move up and select the massive 6-8 offensive tackle who could end up being a possible heir to veteran Duane Brown.
Forsythe was regarded as a mid-round pick by many analysts and saw his profile jump after a strong pro day. But he remained on the board until the Seahawks called.
“It’s just been a long waiting game. I mean, that’s a question I kind of want to find out myself, why it took so long for everyone,” Forsythe said. “But I’m so grateful to get the chance to hear my name called.”
Forsythe started at left tackle his final two years at Florida and his strength is in pass blocking. That’s in part because Florida was a much heavier pass team, especially last season. Hall of Famer Steve Hutchinson was part of the Seahawks contingent that met with Forsythe prior to the draft.
Seattle’s offensive line looks set with Gabe Jackson, acquired in a trade with Las Vegas, slotting in at right guard and Damien Lewis flopping spots to left guard in his second year. Center will be decided between Ethan Pocic, a full-time starter for the first time last season, and Kyle Fuller.
Seattle expects to be busy in the undrafted rookie free agent market and could definitely use depth at linebacker and along the defensive line. This was the first time the Seahawks didn’t draft a defensive lineman in Schneider’s tenure, and Seattle has just four linebackers currently on its roster.
Even with drafting Eskridge, the Seahawks could also use another wide receiver.
And then there are the continuing rumors of a possible reunion with former All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman. It would make a ton of sense as Sherman still lives in the Seattle area during the offseason and the Seahawks could use another cornerback.
Carroll said he has been in contact with Sherman, but trying to add the veteran cornerback isn’t a priority at this time.
“That’s not one of our thoughts right now that we’re going out and go get another guy at the spot,” Carroll said. “But we’re gonna keep looking, and we’re not gonna stop looking and we’re gonna compete. So in that sense I leave everything open and that’s just one.”