The Seahawks haven’t used their original first-round pick since 2011, when they selected James Carpenter 25th overall. Since then they’ve either traded back in the first round, traded out of the first round all together or used the pick to acquire a veteran player via trade.
That’s a run of eight straight drafts. It’s an obscure, if not impressive streak, but it should end in 2020.
At the very least, the Seahawks should sit tight at pick No. 27 in the first round this year. Seattle has seven draft picks, six of which come in the first four rounds. That’s more than enough ammunition to find impact players that fill various roster needs.
Now, I understand the thought behind stockpiling picks. The draft will always be an imperfect science, and no team hits on prospects 100% of the time. So from that standpoint, it makes sense to give yourself as many shots as possible.
But this year is different. The pre-draft process was truncated to a point where pro days were cancelled, and in-person visits were banned due to COVID-19. Teams know less about this year’s prospects, especially late-round players, than ever before. Beyond that, there will be no offseason program. There will be no rookie minicamp or OTAs for first-year players to get acclimated. There’s a real chance that rookies don’t step foot on team facilities for the first time until training camp in August.
So while rookies are always playing a game of catchup, they’ll be playing from even further behind in 2020. This year’s draft picks, not to mention the undrafted free agents, could have about a month (or less) to make a strong first impression, get up to speed and then ultimately win a roster spot. That will be no easy task when the roster is already full of young players who have been in Pete Carroll’s program for at least a year. It will be harder than ever for late-round picks to make the roster.
“There’s no way around the fact that younger players aren’t going to be prepared for the season,” NFL.com draft expert Lance Zierlein said on the latest Talkin’ Seahawks Podcast. “It’s impossible. Even if the season starts close to on time, they still aren’t going to have the necessary practice time that they need or that coaches need to get these players ready. There’s no way around it.”
To that end, when it comes time for cuts, coaches and front offices will have to project where rookies will end up years down the road more than ever before. That will be a challenge when experienced players will surely have the upper hand in terms of who impressed more in camp.
“You’re drafting guys based on the fact that they’re going to be good players for you over the long haul,” Zierlein said. “It can’t be about this year. If you count on rookies this year to make a major difference (in 2020), there’s a good chance you’re going to be disappointed.”
Which leads me to my main conclusion: This is the perfect year to consolidate picks and trade up in the draft. Find players you absolutely love, make sure you get them and leave the late-round dart throws to other teams. This year, more than ever, is a year I’d prefer quality over quantity.
To listen to the full podcast, click here: https://link.chtbl.com/zierlein_draft-preview