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Sports >  Seattle Seahawks

John Blanchette: With just three picks this weekend, don’t expect the Seahawks’ recent NFL draft woes to disappear overnight

UPDATED: Wed., April 28, 2021

By John Blanchette For The Spokesman-Review

You have to make the most of your opportunities, and here in 2021 John Schneider is face to face with what could be his defining moment.

The Seattle Seahawks general manager is within striking distance of trading the franchise out of the National Football League draft altogether.

What’s that? How is that different from recent drafts?

Whoa, tough crowd.

It’s true that for a few years draft day in Seattle had come to feel like that $20-bill-attached-to-fishing-line prank. Just when you were waiting for Schneider to select that future Pro Bowl tackle in the first round, he yanked it away and traded down for picks whose names you wouldn’t hear called until 48 hours later.

And who might be out of the league 48 months later.

The reputation endures, even if Schneider has actually used a couple of his allotted first-rounders the past few years – while still trading down, and to perhaps greater fan disappointment.

This is where the “Didn’t that guy used to be Rashaad Penny?” joke could be inserted. If he’d ever actually been Rashaad Penny in Seattle, that is.

Ah, but no danger of first-round dismay this year. But possibly some why-bother ennui.

The NFL’s three-day disbursement extravaganza begins Thursday, not that Schneider and coach Pete Carroll have to be at the Seahawks command center until Day 2. The team has just three selections: at 56 (second round), 129 (fourth) and 250 (seventh). When choosing an orchestra, those are the spots where the conductor picks the bassoon, the triangle and the octobass.

By comparison, if things hold, Jacksonville and Miami will have made four picks apiece before the Seahawks announce one.

But things rarely hold once the draft is under way, and who knows? Schneider being Schneider, he could very well move those second- and fourth-rounders for an entire wing in the seventh – or maybe package them for another pass rusher with a long rap sheet.

After all, to Carroll’s way of thinking, the Seahawks have already done their drafting when they shipped this year’s first- and third-rounders to the Jets last year for All-Pro safety Jamal Adams.

“That’s a heck of a pick,” Carroll gushed.

Absolutely. Then again, it’s also supposed to be a heck of a pick in 2022 – the Seahawks gave up two first-rounders in the trade – and if the club can’t get a contract extension done, he’ll be gone before then.

Schneider also gave up Seattle’s fifth-rounder this year to the Raiders for guard Gabe Jackson as part of the Russell Wilson Appeasement and Health Initiative, and a seventh-rounder for defensive end Carlos Dunlap in October when the Seahawks weren’t getting within the same ZIP code of opposition quarterbacks.

Necessary moves all – but made necessary by past draft failures and missteps, mostly.

Not that there wasn’t some design to it too.

The COVID-19 pandemic wound up having minimal impact on the NFL schedule, but was all sorts of hell on college football. Spring and summer workouts were halted, schedules abbreviated, regular-season and bowl games canceled. Evaluation opportunities on potential 2021 draftees were severely curtailed, on top of the combine being canceled.

“We had to ask ourselves what kind of questions are we going to have answered by the time we get to next spring,” Schneider said on Wednesday. “What’s that going to look like? And things just felt too hazy.”

Almost as hazy as what the Seahawks figure to get accomplished this weekend.

Even with some significant veterans re-signed and acquisitions like Jackson and defensive tackle Kerry Hyder, the Seahawks have a slew of real needs – cornerback, center and a third wide receiver among them. They aren’t going to get addressed with three draft picks south of the first round.

But that’s some of what’s taken the Seahawks from dynasty-in-the-making in the mid-2010s to clinging to that branch on the cliff of relevance now. Having scored with a number of mid-to-late-rounders in building the franchise – Wilson, Richard Sherman, K.J. Wright, Kam Chancellor – Schneider fell in love with the strategy.

As a result, the drafts of 2013-18 produced two true impact players – Tyler Lockett and seventh-round find Chris Carson – and a really good punter. Other notable starters – Frank Clark, Jarran Reed, Shaquill Griffin – have been traded or allowed to get away. And the first-rounders they did keep for a time – Germaine Ifedi and Penny – have been outright busts. The last two drafts have been more promising, but inconclusive.

“We’re not keeping guys just because we drafted them,” Carroll said, “just because we’re trying to save face or whatever.”

Well, good. Face saving needs to be reserved for the playoffs.

Schneider’s machinations have helped keep the Seahawks in the postseason eight of the past nine years, and his deserved reward was a recent contract extension. But it’s been despite his draft record, not because of it.

That’s not going to change this weekend. But it probably needs to soon.

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