Seahawks GM John Schneider spoke to KING-5′s Chris Egan this week (see above) and among the topics discussed, inevitably, was the quarterback position. Schneider again stated that the team are “not going to panic” when it comes to finding a long term solution and related to his experience working with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. He wants that type of franchise-defining leader, he’s just not going to force it.
If you’re a Seahawks fan pinning your hopes on this situation being resolved during the 2012 draft, it’s time to start preparing yourself for that not happening. This will be Schneider and Pete Carroll’s third draft with the team and it’s difficult to be too critical of their approach to drafting a quarterback. We can debate the merits of Matt Hasselbeck, Charlie Whitehurst and Tarvaris Jackson all day – but the fact is there hasn’t been a strikingly obvious option for Seattle to select a young replacement. Even with two first round picks in 2010, the Seahawks rightly didn’t spend either on Tim Tebow, Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy or any other quarterback available in that class. People often talk about Andy Dalton last year, but he is still a long way from proving himself in the NFL. Some of the issues that were obvious during the grading process with Dalton were noticeable in the playoff game against Houston and while he enjoyed a credible rookie year and deserves praise for his start in Cincinnati, I still believe the Seahawks were right not to draft him with the #25 pick.
This year Seattle will own either the #11 or #12 overall choice, but again they are faced with limited options. As discussed in this week’s updated mock draft, there’s a realistic chance that Robert Griffin III will be a top-three pick even without a trade. Minnesota coulddraft RGIII, meaning the Seahawks would have to deal with a division rival in St. Louis. That just won’t happen, and people hoping that Griffin will be Seattle’s quarterback of the future better be prepared to be disappointed. I also don’t expect the Seahawks to draft a player like Brock Osweiler or Ryan Tannehill in round one – even though I have a lot of time for Osweiler (and not so much for Tannehill).
Of course there’s always the chance the team will draft a quarterback in round two and that shouldn’t be ruled out. But when Schneider says the team won’t panic, he means it – even in round two. If the Seahawks see better value with a defensive prospect or a running back with that second pick, that’s the direction they will go. We’ve discussed Kirk Cousins on the blog a lot recently and there’s every chance he could leave the board in the second round – that’s the way his stock is going right now. Yet if the Seahawks have a firm round three or four grade on Cousins, it’s unlikely they’ll reach to fill a need – a move that would put undue pressure on Cousins to be ‘the guy’.
Both Schneider and Carroll have been pretty open with the fans in their assessment of the team and plans for the future. Last year the offensive line was highlighted as a target area for improvement, just before the Seahawks drafted James Carpenter and John Moffitt. Carroll has consistently talked up the value he places in the running game – and the offense has been built in exactly that vision. There’s no secret in Seattle’s preference for size in the secondary. In Carroll’s end of season press conference a few weeks ago, improving the pass rush and adding to the front seven was named as priority #1 and you can bet your house that’s exactly what Seattle will attempt to do during the draft. When the Seahawks are preparing to go big on a quarterback, we’ll have a good idea that’s going to be the case – even if it’s not spelt out in as many words.
It’s hard to argue too much with their stance at the moment, because Schneider is 100% correct when he says a bad quarterback pick will set the team back indefinitely and spoil the good work conducted so far in rebuilding this team. However, there will come a time when the position severely holds the Seahawks back (even more so than it did in 2011). That’s when the excuses and talk of patience will fall on deaf ears. For those reasons it wouldn’t surprise me if the Seahawks made some kind of temporary move to upgrade the position during free agency – possibly even via trade. I’m not going to suggest any names but in order to afford themselves time ‘not to panic’, it could be argued they’re going to need a better bridge option than Tarvaris Jackson. Finding a cost-effective upgrade prior to the draft may soften the blow when the Seahawks don’t make an early splash at the position – possibly ignoring it during the first two days.
Regular visitors know my stance on quarterbacks and personally, I think it’s fairly unacceptable that the Seahawks planned so poorly for life after Matt Hasselbeck and missed an opportunity to stay at the forefront of the NFC West. Of course, that wasn’t a mistake made by this current front office. Yet you look at the way the Patriots are stocking quarterbacks and being savvy about their situation – there’s a fairly good chance whenever Tom Brady does retire they’ll at least have a logical plan in place for the future. The Seahawks don’t have that luxury and even players drafted beyond round three will have to deal with a level of anticipation and expectation that a guy like Ryan Mallett or Brian Hoyer doesn’t have to cope with in New England. You only have to look at the way Josh Portis’ one good drive against San Diego’s back-ups in pre-season was received to understand the situation we’re dealing with here. Seahawks fans are desperate for the future at quarterback to be resolved. For that reason, Schneider and Carroll are right to act with some degree of caution.
Even so, the time will come when this front office has to be pro-active rather than reactive – and I’m sure they’d agree with that. I’m a fan of Robert Griffin III, but a deal just may not be possible if you’re attempting to trade into the top three. The team should avoid tokenism to appease a fan-base desperate for some hope beyond the Jackson’s and Whitehurst’s of this world. They should keep building the roster and not rely on one position to define the road to success. But they should also be ready to make the move that will define Pete Carroll’s third gig in the NFL, because it could also define his legacy. Let’s not forget that a player he’s particularly close to, who he recruited and anointed USC’s first ever freshman starter will be part of the 2013 draft class. There will be alternatives too and it may be merely twelve months of further panic-free scouting. After 19 years without a first-round quarterback, what’s a second complete decade between friends?