The Seahawks are continuing to feel the impact of a string of subpar draft classes. A number of notable misfires, especially in the early rounds, has left Seattle’s roster largely depleted of value contracts from impact players.
That played a large factor in the Seahawks trading away two first-round picks for Jamal Adams last summer. Quite simply, Seattle didn’t have enough blue-chip talent in order to be a top tier contender, and Adams was brought in to help remedy that void. The cost of such a move was/is immense, of course. Not only do the Seahawks have limited draft capital moving forward (just four picks in 2021 with no first- or third-rounder selections), but Adams is due what will be the richest contract in NFL history for a safety.
Roster construction becomes vastly more challenging with each mega contract. Seattle already has a top-heavy roster, and that will only become more profound upon Adams signing his new deal.
To say that hitting on draft picks is paramount in order to be a Super Bowl hopeful isn’t breaking news to anyone. But Timo Riske at Pro Football Focus recently released four models that illustrate the successes (or failures) all 32 teams have experienced over the last four drafts.
He used PFF’s four-year WAR (Wins Above Replacement) model for the 2017 draft and then PFF’s four-year WAR predictor model for the drafts from 2018-20. Here are his four models, where the Seahawks rank in each and what they mean.
Overall value – 20th
The first model shared the total WAR of each team’s draft over expectation. This made it so one player could greatly skew the results as Patrick Mahomes did for the Chiefs and Deshaun Watson did for the Texans. The Seahawks don’t have a single player who is worth at least two WAR over expectation. That means for all of Seattle’s draft picks since 2017, each with an expected WAR based on draft position, not one is expected to outperform that draft position by at least two wins.
PFF only has one Seahawks player worth more than one win above expectations, presumably DK Metcalf or Shaquill Griffin (though it isn’t specified).
Percentage of hits – 23rd
The Seahawks are lower in the rankings when taking into consideration the number of hits. This model illustrated how many picks each team had that ranked in the 75th percentile based on position and draft position.
Weight by round – 25th
Seattle tumbled even further when Riske weighted those hits by round selected. The idea here is that a hitting on a first-round pick will have much more of an overall impact that hitting on a seventh-rounder. The factors that come into play here are the Seahawks not drafting inside the top 20, thus lowering their chances of getting a blue-chip player, and the reality that Seattle simply hasn’t drafted well in the top three rounds over the last four years.
In 2017, Seattle picked six times in Rounds 2 and 3. The Seahawks ended up with Malik McDowell, Ethan Pocic, Shaquill Griffin, Lano Hill, Nazair Jones and Amara Darboh. That’s pretty brutal outside of Griffin. Rashaad Penny in the first and Rasheem Green in the third the following year aren’t any better.
To the Seahawks credit, there’s some promise in the 2019 and 2020 drafts. Players like L.J. Collier, Marquise Blair, Jordyn Brooks and Darrell Taylor each have the ability to become difference makers. However, that is all based on potential rather than production, which is why PFF isn’t giving Seattle much credit for any of those picks.
Positional value – 22nd
Seattle received a small boost when positional value was added to the previous model. Shaquill Griffin and DK Metcalf likely accounted for the bump.
As Riske noted, it’s hard to draw many definitive conclusions other than which teams have been objectively successful over the last four drafts. Yes, the Seahawks have struggled mightily, but it’s not like John Schneider forgot how to evaluate players.
Some misses are on his shoulder, like taking a running back in the first round. Others can be chalked up to bad luck. The draft will always remain an imperfect science.
The major takeaway is that the Seahawks have little to no margin for error this offseason, and Schenider will have to deftly utilize the team’s four draft picks. Another underwhelming draft will further close Seattle’s championship window.