Some thoughts on ‘trading down’

February 6th, 2019 | Written by Rob Staton

A section of Seahawks fans are fed up. They don’t want the team to trade down in the draft every year. The higher you pick, the more exciting it is. That’s just a fact. You’re more likely to get a hyped-up player or someone you know about.

There are three things to consider though…

1. There are never 32 ‘first round grades’ in a draft class and if you’re not picking in the first half of round one you’re unlikely to get a great player

2. For years the Seahawks haven’t picked high enough to get at the top-level talent

3. Elite talent can be found at any point in the draft

For sure they’ve traded out of range for some really good players recently. In 2017 we talked a lot about T.J. Watt. He has 20 sacks in two seasons. Seattle instead traded down multiple times and selected Malik McDowell.

With hindsight, it wasn’t a great idea.

Overall though there’s plenty of sense in the moves they’ve made.

Usually they’ve been able to acquire targeted players after moving down. Paul Richardson, Germain Ifedi and Rashaad Penny all filled specific needs. All could’ve been Seattle’s choice with their native pick. Whether you agreed with their thinking or not — they did what they wanted to do while also collecting extra stock.

They’ve found the sweet spots at different positions. A year ago they traded down from #18 to #27 and still were able to get their pick of the non-Saquon running backs. They didn’t trade out of range for the wide receivers in 2014 and they moved down a few spots in 2012 to get Bruce Irvin — the first pass rusher off the board. Bobby Wagner was acquired after a trade down in round two. Richard Sherman was acquired with a pick collected in a trade. Golden Tate was acquired after swapping picks with the Chargers.

Their average first round pick in the Pete Carroll era is #21. That includes the two picks (#6 and #14) they inherited from the Jim Mora season. Take away those two picks and their average position is #24. The Patriots are probably the only team with an average that comes out later in round one.

If you’re consistently picking in that range or later, a lot of the top prospects will be gone. You’ll be looking at a list of players where the options at your spot likely carry similar grades to the players available in round two.

In 2010 they stayed put and collected Russell Okung and Earl Thomas (wise moves). In 2012 they moved from #12 to #15 before taking the guy they wanted (Irvin). Aside from that they’ve never picked earlier than #18 overall under Carroll.

Had the Seahawks not improbably qualified for the playoffs in 2010 they probably wouldn’t have traded down in the 2011 draft. They would’ve had the #8 pick if they’d lost in week 17 to St. Louis (preventing Beast Quake ever occurring).

In 2011, 12 of the first 16 picks ended up qualifying for the Pro-Bowl in their careers. The group includes:

Cam Newton
Von Miller
Marcell Dareus
A.J. Green
Patrick Peterson
Julio Jones
Aldon Smith
Tyron Smith
JJ Watt
Robert Quinn
Mike Pouncey
Ryan Kerrigan

The only four players not to make a Pro-Bowl in the top half of round one were three over-drafted quarterbacks (Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder) and Nick Fairley (who had a solid career).

In the second half of round one, only four players made a Pro-Bowl (Cam Jordan, Mark Ingram, Muhammad Wilkerson, Cameron Heyward).

Seattle had the #25 pick that year and selected James Carpenter.

The difference between the two halves of round one is stark and highlights one of the reasons a team perennially picking later on is tempted to trade down.

The Seahawks aren’t the only team either that has identified major talent between rounds 3-7. Here’s a run down of some of the players drafted in that range between 2010-2013:

2010

91 NaVorro Bowman
95 Jimmy Graham
100 Everson Griffen
104 Alterraun Verner
120 Geno Atkins
133 Kam Chancellor
163 Reshad Jones
195 Antonio Brown

2011

70 Justin Houston
71 DeMarco Murray
77 Jurrell Casey
99 KJ Wright
129 Julius Thomas
154 Richard Sherman
180 Tyrod Taylor
191 Jason Kelce

2012

72 Olivier Vernon
75 Russell Wilson
76 Brandon Brooks
88 Nick Foles
89 Akiem Hicks
92 TY Hilton
97 Lamar Miller
102 Kirk Cousins
132 Mike Daniels
137 Malik Jackson
143 Josh Norman
171 Greg Zuerlein
225 JR Sweezy

2013

63 Travis Kelce
65 Larry Warford
69 Tyrann Mathieu
75 Terron Armstead
76 Keenan Allen
85 Jordan Reed
94 Brandon Williams
109 David Bakhtiari
130 Kyle Juszczyk
159 Micah Hyde
168 Ricky Wagner
181 Latavius Murray

Admittedly you’ve got to identify and draft these players. But clearly you can find elite talent even at the key positions (QB, WR, LT, DE, CB) at any stage in the draft.

There’s no right or wrong position to take on this really. Sometimes you’ll trade down and with hindsight wish you hadn’t. Another time you might be able to unearth the next Antonio Brown, Richard Sherman, David Bakhtiari, Geno Atkins, Keenan Allen or Russell Wilson simply because you acquired that extra stock.

The best position to take is probably that of an open mind and to reserve judgement for a good two or three years. After all, a lot of people had started to claim Seattle lost its draft magic after 2012. Yet now we can see their first two picks in 2014 have had good careers (Paul Richardson, Justin Britt). The first two picks in 2015 have developed into blue chip players for the Seahawks (Frank Clark, Tyler Lockett). Their first two picks in 2016 have become a solid 2018 starter (Germain Ifedi) and the best pass-rushing defensive tackle they’ve had in years (Jarran Reed). And in 2017 they added Shaquill Griffin, Chris Carson, David Moore and several others who could emerge as key starters in 2019.

The 2018 class is already showing promise too.

Trading down is inevitable this year with only four picks to spend. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.

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77 Responses to “Some thoughts on ‘trading down’”

  1. BobbyK says:

    I think most agree they will definitely trade down (whether they want them to or not). However, another pattern that has been emerging to me is they way they continually trade future draft picks for benefitting them now. I wouldn’t put it past them to trade one of their picks in rounds 1-4 in 2020 for some help immediate help in a couple of months. Again, they only have four picks in the upcoming draft and we know they’re going to draft more than four players.

    They haven’t had a second round pick for a few years now and three years ago they swapped fifth round picks with the Patriots so they could move up for Q. Jefferson. To do that, they also traded a 4th round pick to New England the following year. I’m not sure why we’d expect them to actually have all their picks going into 2020 so those chips are definitely on the table (trading future assets, again) in acquiring more 2019 draft stock, too. I don’t like it, but that’s another pattern that has been emerging as well.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I think there’s been a shift on that front. Prior to 2018, they were very aggressive sensing the end of the ‘LOB era’ and wanted to win another title with that group. It didn’t happen, so the aggressive moves — the losing of future draft stock — left holes in the 2018 and 2019 drafts. I think they know clearly see this as a different time and situation. And I think they’ll be very careful with their picks moving forward. Of course there’s always a chance they throw a 6th on a Brett Hundley but they can manipulate and get those picks back. But the days of big aggressive additions via trade and giving up future high draft picks are gone for now I’d say.

      • BobbyK says:

        Yes. I don’t care about them trading away 6th and 7th round picks because, you’re right, they’re easy to get back on draft day every year. But with the Q. Jefferson trade – I don’t like those because they moved up a few spots in the fifth round and to do that had to give up a fourth round pick the following year. That just seems counterproductive (the opposite of trading down to get more lottery tickets). I know he’s turned into a contributor, but that was only after he had been cut and spent time with the Rams. But regardless, it just doesn’t seem like good business to trade a 5th round pick and a 4th round pick for a singular fifth round pick.

        Personally, I hope you’re right and they don’t touch (i.e. trade) their picks in the first 4-5 rounds next year. If anything, I hope they can make a deal where they end up with an extra third rounder or something like that (second rounder would be great!). Your blog is great and the only weakness is one that is out of your control… and that’s the amount of high picks the Seahawks have. The more better picks, the more anticipation for draft day, imo. There would be more reason for optimism on draft day if they also had their second round pick. Front offices always say the best way to build a team is through the draft and it drives me crazy when their actions demonstrate they have less good picks. If they did have their second round pick, they wouldn’t necessarily have to trade down from 21 because they could trade down in the second round to get an extra pick or two later in the draft, too.

        I don’t mean for this to sound like hindsight because I have always wanted to be the team that trades for future draft picks and not the one that trades future picks away. Still, I’m excited for free agency and the draft. They seem to be back on the right track, but to take it to the next level – they do need an impact rookie to join this team. Whether it’s a WR, DE, OLB, or whatever… we need a good player who can make an impact right off the bat. They’re close but there’s still work to do.

    • Simo says:

      I also agree it appears there’s been a bit of shift away from trading high picks for so called impact players. Perhaps the trades for Harvin, Graham, Sheldon, have taught them there’s no sure things or can’t miss players, and high draft stock is more important.

      The occasional 6th or 7th rounder to pick up nice piece is no big deal.

  2. Simo says:

    Thanks for the great perspective Rob! It’s clear there’s tremendous (elite) talent to be had up and down a draft, and don’t forget undrafted players either (Doug Baldwin anyone).

    I suspect the decision to trade down this year is made easy, primarily due to the fact we only have four total picks. If we were starting out with 7-10 picks, including a couple second and third rounders, it would likely be easier to stand pat. Pete and John would even have the amunition to move up if they were within range of a player they absolutely loved.

    Here’s to hoping for a productive trade down (or 2-3 of them), with a number of teams wishing to move up for certain players within range! And then lets find the next Kam, Richard, Russ, etc.

  3. Trevor says:

    Makes a lot of sense Rob. I have often been frustrated with the constant trade backs but the more lottery tickets you have the better chance you have to hit on some winners.

  4. Trevor says:

    Rob have you had a chance to take a look at Justin Hollins? I am really surprised he is not getting anymore buzz. I think he would make an ideal SAM candidate in our scheme with some pass rush potential. Anxious to see how he tests but I like his length and physical profile. His tape was quite good this year as well I thought he looked better than his more heralded team mate Jelks.

    Curious if any Ducks fans like Kenny have any thoughts on him.

  5. AlaskaHawk says:

    The burning question is: Will the Seahawks ever get back to the Superbowl without more first round picks? Or will trading down lead to a teams slow and inevitable decline?

    Here are a few stats to think about:

    from Patrick Rishe, May 25, 2015, Forbes article https://www.forbes.com/sites/prishe/2015/05/22/tracking-nfl-draft-efficiency-how-contingent-is-success-to-draft-position/#f3a6c437495b

    1) Correlation between Draft Position and “Starter Status”

    Using Pro Football Reference as a resource, I looked at all players who were classified as starters at the beginning of the 2014 season to determine what round they were drafted in upon entering the league. Of the 595 players designated as such, the results reveal the following:

    – Nearly 30% of all starters were 1st round draft picks when drafted into the league;

    – Roughly 30% were taken in either the 2nd or 3rd round;

    – Roughly 26% were taken in either rounds 4 through 7;

    – Undrafted players (14%) were the 3rd most likely group to comprise 2014’s starters…only behind 1st round (30%) and 2nd round (18%) picks.

    2) Correlation between Draft Position and Staying Power

    Given that the average career length is only 3.3 years, this begs the question of how much more likely are higher draft picks to stick around the league longer than later draft picks.

    For simplicity, and with more time I would like to build a larger sample size, I looked at all players drafted in the 2010 draft, and gauged what percentage of games over those five years (a max of 80 games) have players started. The sample size here of 210 players produced these results:

    The overall median “percentage of games started” by those players selected in the 2010 NFL Draft is 15%;

    – 1st round draftees from that season started a higher median percentage of games (67.5%) compared to players drafted in other rounds;

    – 2nd and 3rd round draftees from 2010 have started roughly 34% and 36% of all possible games, respectively.

    – The median percentage of games started for players drafted in rounds 4 through 7 from the 2010 draft was extremely low, never rising above 7% of games played over the last 5 years.

    And here is a link to an article that looks at success rates in each round by position:
    https://www.arrowheadpride.com/2015/2/20/8072877/what-the-statistics-tell-us-about-the-draft-by-round

    He makes a point that the Seahawks have experienced, that the running back position has a high bust rate.

    I don’t have much time right now – but I’m curious to see the responses.

    • Rob Staton says:

      These stats don’t really help though. It’s not a surprise that R1 picks play more games or have ‘staying power’. That’s the kind of thing we can assume without any stats. The point is where you pick in R1 impacts your ability to acquire the best players, it impacts whether you take a player with a grade any better than you would at pick #45 and the fact is you can find elite talent at any point and at any position.

    • Georgia Hawk says:

      I think the staying power here is misleading, contracts play a big part of that. If you ahve to pay a 1st rd player anyway, why not keep him around all 4 years and see if he turns a corner. Conversely, if a later drafted player doesn’t make an immediate impact, they are gone. I think a better metric might be percentage of players that get a second contract…but even that isn’t perfect with all the one year prove it deals.

    • AlaskaHawk says:

      Rob- I think you are saying that the top 10 or 15 players in the first round are truly elite players, and that barring injury they are most likely to have a great career. The next level players are a broader category that could extend into the second round.

      I think of it more from an overall perspective. The chances of success decrease round by round. Whether that is from good scouting, the players ability, or just a team bias that a first round pick or high round pick should be a starter – I don’t know.

      What I found interesting was that undrafted players were 14% of the starters. Just watching the Seahawks in action, they invite more undrafted players than drafted players to workouts.

      • Matt B. says:

        Makes sense the chance of success decreases round by round but if you’re adding more shots in later rounds you are potentially countering that, if you have a 30% chance of success in the 1st round and trade back into the 2nd round which has a 25% chance of success while adding a round 3 pick with a 20% chance of success, you’re giving yourself more shots at finding that diamond in the rough. I think it stems from Pete’s mantra of always compete and wanting to make guys “earn it” and to find your late round/UDFA gems you need lots of bodies competing and giving them a chance to earn a spot outside of draft position. I think the potential downside of this line of thinking is that you might end up with average talent at a position because you never uncover that late round gem and maybe they produce above their draft status but are they actual difference makers. Probably no perfect way and a lot of it depends on scouting, coaching, and a fair bit of luck (see McDowell). Will be really interesting to watch FA play out in order to really hone in on areas they’ll be targeting heavily.

      • Rob Staton says:

        No I’m not saying that. I’m saying that if you pick, on average, 24th in round one because you’re a good football team you are much less likely to get at the best players in a given class. It’s stating the obvious really. I didn’t say anything about anyone ‘likely’ having a great career if they go in the top-15.

  6. WALL UP says:

    It’s definitely a good thing! JS is a master at it, when comes to working the boards of other teams in order to accomplish those trades. He seems to know when to make the right choices. Like last year with Penny, and waiting until the 3rd Rd for Russ. He was definitely sweating that out.

    He has missed on a few occasions, as he has acknowledged. But, by in large, he knows how far he needs to go to get his man. Honestly, I would not be surprised if they made (9) selections in this draft. At least, that’s what I think his trading will produce from just (4) picks this year. It should be interesting.

  7. cha says:

    “A section of Seahawks fans are fed up. They don’t want the team to trade down in the draft every year. The higher you pick, the more exciting it is.”

    I don’t disagree with that, but I think a bit of the griping comes from a section of the fandom that sees a player selected near where the Seahawks pick naturally that turns into a good first year player and cry ‘the Hawks could’ve had that guy!’ when in fact it’s very unlikely the Hawks would have picked him had they stayed put. This year’s models are Derwin James and Kyle VDE.

    • cha says:

      *Leighton VDE.

    • Simo says:

      Good point here, but not sure why its unlikely the Hawks would have picked James or Vander Esch? These were both very highly touted college prospects, and are clearly on their way to excellent pro careers. Imagine James in our secondary with McDougald or VDE playing next to Bobby.

      Its only natural for fans to lament the players “who got away” when we had every opportunity to draft them, and I’m not talking about the players picked in the top 10 who are way out of our reach. We also need to remember all the excellent picks Pete and John have made from Rounds 2-7! They believe in their strategy of trading back and acquiring extra picks, as it gives more opportunity to find the next gem in mid/late rounds. If they believe this is best for the team, that’s good enough for me!

    • AlaskaHawk says:

      Remember all the discussion we had about a running back last year? The Seahawks traded down – which was a good call – and picked Penny. How many of us wanted someone else? Who is pleased with Penny’s first season? Was he a game changer or even an average running back on a team that prides itself as a running team?

      I’ll let you be the judge of that.

      • cha says:

        Illustrates my point. It’s easy to point to “game changer” players after a single season and say we should have picked them. Let’s let the guys grow into their shoes a little.

      • adog says:

        I’m pleased with the penny pick. In my opinion one year is much too early to make any boom or bust declarations. Yes…other running backs drafted after Penny performed better, but if Marshawn Lynch is the yard stick for Seatttle running backs…then we should know that Penny should hit his mark in this offense about halfway through 2019.

      • JohnH says:

        Penny was 1. a great college back that needed time and reps to learn pass pro 2. missed a lot of opportunity for reps with his finger injury 3. was behind a great RB in Carson.

        Given the circumstances it doesn’t surprise or alarm me that he didn’t turn into Lev Bell in his first season. I think next year will see a very Ingram/Kamara type RB situation for the Hawks.

  8. charlietheunicorn says:

    Rob,

    Have you thought about doing an ASK ROB piece every month or so…. and ask for specific questions about different aspects of the game or draft or statistics (such as SPARQ)…. etc etc etc….

    I also wonder about maybe 4 or 5 draft crushes you had in say the 2014 draft … and how they panned out in the NFL? “Where are they now, Rob edition” I’m not necessarily talk top 1st round guys,. but the mid rounders that really made an impact or fell flat in the NFL.

    Good Day 😀

  9. KD says:

    Rob,

    I noticed that Jalen Jelks, DE/OLB Oregon, is one of the players that the Hawks have visited with and wondering what your general impression is, if you have had a chance to watch him.

    I watched his appearance vs. Arizona in 2017 and Stanford in 2018. He certainly has a very good combo of size and length, but he just doesn’t seem to put them together very well and just does not seem very strong at all. More often than not, he seems to just get mauled by the LT or LG at the point of attack, a consequence of being too slow off the snap IMO, and the O-Linemen are able to easily able to stand him up and/or completely box him out of the play.

    Personally, I’m not very impressed with him as a pass rusher at all, and I’m wondering if his potential would be better served as a 43OLB, perhaps which is why the Hawks met with him. That’s just my thought, but I wanted to see what everyone else’s take is.

    (I used the blog search function for Jelks and saw only a few mentions from the Senior bowl post, so apologies if I missed a more in-depth write up previously)

  10. BobbyK says:

    This isn’t draft related, but I have a question for Seahawks fans (if I may, Rob).

    I have decided to write a book about the 1983 Seahawks and have a question for those of you who both remember that season and those too young to remember it.

    I have the full support of the QB of that team (starting mid-season) in Dave Krieg, the AFC Defensive Player of the Year that season in Kenny Easley, and Shirley Knox (widow of late head coach, Chuck Knox). Those were the three most important pieces in deciding to do this and all three have agreed to be interviewed.

    However, that’s just the beginning in doing something that will be a credit to the team and season.

    That being said, I would like to please ask any/all opinions below of what you would like to read in the book if you are:

    1. Old enough to remember that magical season.

    2. Too young or not born to remember this first “real” season in which the Seahawks introduced themselves on a national stage.

    I’d love input from Seahawks fans as to what would most capture their interest. I care nothing of making anything from the book (I already have a job that pays the bills), but would love to create something that properly remembers/chronicles this particular season.

    I do have a book blueprint, but want to keep it flexible too. I’d like the stories of those on the team to lead the way, as opposed to my predetermined outline of what it should contain.

    Any advice from true Seahawks fans would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • GerryG says:

      I didn’t become a fan until 86 when I move to WA from BC age 8.

      Many of those players were still on the team then, so even not knowing I’d still read.

    • C-Dog says:

      Exciting stuff, Bobby!

      I remember that team well. Loved seeing Mudbone come on with the dynamic Curt Warner, but it was that defense that made it all so special. Anything in-depth on Jacob Green, Joe Nash, Jeff Bryant, Dave Brown, along with Easley would be great reading. That defense was loaded with big play talent. Football players making football plays, as Knox would say.

      They took me from casual fan to diehard twelve. Been hooked ever since.

      • UKAlex6674 says:

        Oh man it was the 83 team that got me into football! It was the 2nd year of NFL being shown here in the UK on Channel 4 (we only had 4 chanel then!) – I remember watching some highlights of a game v Raiders (was a high scoring one too) and thought the helmet looked good………….and here we are some 35 years later.

        I didn’t know much about ths sport until that game, but I remember then watching and follwing it as a 9 year old thinking all the players were super human (Jacob Green especially, and he became my hero) and obviously back then there was no internet so the NFL was all a bit mystical.

        I remember about 2 weeks later my local newsagent got some NFL trading cards in………and in my first pack I got Jacob Green! And you know what? I took that card to Wembley last October, met him in the tailgate party, and got him to sign it. Childhood dream complete.

        • Ulsterman says:

          Alex that’s a very similar story to mine. I got into the NFL as a kid through watching Channel 4 (I’m from Northern Ireland), started supporting the Seahawks because they were a good team but under the radar for most UK fans and Jacob Green was also my favourite player for some reason (along with Largent).

          • BobbyK says:

            These are some stories I’d like to add because I’m thinking about a “fan section.” It was the year I became a fan, too. If you guys were willing to share these stories, I’d like to know more and include them. Please email me at bobbyk03@hotmail.com. Thank you.

          • C-Dog says:

            I love the fact that you folkss became Seahawk fans across the pond back then and that you were huge Jacob Green fans. Green was My Guy. If he was playing in NY or LA, or Chicago, he would be a hall of famer by now, guaranteed.

            Bobby, get on this one!

        • CestrianHawk says:

          I too started following the Seahawks from about 1982. My introduction to the NFL came a year earlier during a visit to Pittsburgh, when watching a very low scoring monday night (?) tv game between two of the northern powerhouses: it finished something like 3-0 or 6-3, but I was totally captivated. The following year I was in Seattle and fell in love with the city and the Pacific NW area: so from then on the Seahawks became my team. The Channel 4 NFL programme in the UK started around that time and provided the opportunity not only for coverage of the games but also for a short section each week explaining the rules and some of the plays that would be seen. I visited Seattle a number of times in the following few years but sadly never managed to see a live game. Fortunately I fulfilled that dream when the Seahawks eventually came to Wembley last year.

          1983 was probably my first memorable season following the Seahawks. Visiting Seattle at that time also helped me absorb the AFC West rivalry, and I recall it was that summer that Denver acquired John Elway in the draft. The rivalry with the Broncos and the Raiders always seemed the most intense in those days.

    • GerryG says:

      A short anecdote on growing up a Hawks fan in the mid to late 80’s in Olympia.

      On the school bus there were these two brothers that rode my bus. They were born into Hawkdom. Their father has been a season ticket holder since day 1. On Monday’s after a win, they would get on the bus and would start a SEA – HAWKS chant, the whole bus joined in. It was loud! The whole ride in was talk of the game highlights. The screen plays to Williams, the catches by Largent, the hit when Largent got revenge on that Denver DB (Harden??), the crazy flee flickers plays to Turner, Nash and Green hitting the QB. It was pure bliss, and comradery.

      I still see those two brothers at games when I go back to WA. I actually managed to get resale tickets in the row right in front of them for the NFC champ game vs the Packers. Their Dad still sits with them.

      GO HAWKS!!

    • Ukhawk says:

      Fully supportive and I’d certainly give it a read as a lifelong fan who grew up in the PNW.

      I was 14 in ‘83 and I think it was a golden time to be a fan. It was not only very interesting team with a bunch of characters but also was strong at a time when they had some amazing rivalries to boot.

      Good luck Bobbyk!!

    • Bob Johnston says:

      I would love this. 1983 was my freshman year in college and my roommate and I had one of the few TV’s on our dorm floor. We’d have 7-8 guys in our 10×14 room cheering on Krieg, Curt, Largent and the Seahawk’s original dynamic defensive backfield – Easley, John Harris and Dave Brown. Throw in Joe Nash, Jeff Bryant, Manu Tuiasosopo and Jacob Green and it was a super fun team to watch.

  11. jb9 says:

    Seahawks traded Fletcher Cox for Irvin, Howard and Lane.

    If they trade down and Jeffery Simmons in available….

  12. JC says:

    This has been discussed before, but if there are never 32 first round grades (or to be more precise, there’s never more than 32, but always less than 32 by people who say there’s never 32), then their first round grading system is flawed…

    someday, John and Pete will like someone at their first round draft spot they don’t think will drop much beyond their selection and take him. The trend obviously suggests otherwise.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Why is it flawed?

      Do you want them to over mark players just to get to 32?

      That would be awful.

      • RealRhino2 says:

        I’m guessing at understanding him, but what I think he means is that by definition,the top 32 players on your big board have earned “first-round” grades. They are the best 32, and the first round contains the first 32 picks. It’s right in the same way that I can say (for example) that the 10 movies nominated for Best Picture were the best movies of the year (if you think the Academy’s choices are right). The way you (and NFL teams, I guess) look at it, you’d argue back that those weren’t the best, because only 6 of them were actually great movies.

        I mean, he’s right. Players 19-32 WILL go in the 1st round, so to say they haven’t earned a first round grade doesn’t really make sense. Your concept of the 1st round has to include some players that aren’t as good as the very best. They need a new term, maybe, such as “elite,” meaning worthy of being selected in the top half of the first round.

        • Rob Staton says:

          Teams don’t use ‘big boards’. They don’t have a ‘top-32’ and take whoever is left. They offer individual grades. Those grades determine the range in which you’re willing to take them. And their are many different layers, situations and factors that go into a decision to draft a player in a certain round. The players are tiered and placed into zones and ranges. You frame your board based on drafting for your team — your needs, your preferences, your draft position.

          They’re not making a Bleacher Report slideshow running through the best players in the class.

    • Simo says:

      It is interesting that although there’s not usually more than 18-20 true first round grades in any draft according to many experts, there’s always teams willing to trade up into the mid/late 20’s. Presumably these teams know the players they’re after aren’t universally thought to have a first round grade, but they still make the trade because “they” have those players highly rated.

      Also, very likely the 32 teams rate players differently, maybe even very differently. Bruce Irvin was a great example, as the Hawks had him rated very high (would have selected him at #12) while numerous stories surfaced about other teams having him rated much lower. We see this same thing every year with teams and players.

      • The second part of your statement is the key – not all draft boards are created equal. Of course draft analysts know their craft, but any given front office is going to view players differently than the masses. And it is why we see players taken much higher/lower than expected every year. For one, they know things we don’t, but they also know their team/scheme/system better than anyone else, so they are looking for certain characteristics. SDB/Rob has done a great job at identifying what traits Seattle looks for in certain players, so it has helped narrow down the list of possibles, but even then we can never truly know what PC/JS are thinking.

        My point in all of this is one team may have a list of only 5-10 guys they have a first round grade on, while another team may have upwards of 20 or even more. Completely subjective to the team. For some reason, a player who immediately comes to mind as an example is Darius Leonard. By no means was he a huge reach, but he was taken at the top of round 2 when I consistently saw him projected as a 3rd round pick or sometimes even later (though to be fair, LZ had a 2-3 round grade on him). But Indy might’ve had a first round grade on him. It is certainly possible given the high level of player he is already turning out to be.

        I ended up ranting, this stuff fascinates me, I have always wished I could be a fly on the wall during PC/JS draft meetings or in their war room (as I am sure many do). Or any team for that matter, just to hear how they discuss this kind of stuff and the thought process/conversations that lead to the decisions on draft day.

        • Simo says:

          Agreed, it is fascinating!! I’d also love to be privy to the thought process of Pete and John during the draft, it would just be so interesting.

          I think you really made the point that drafting is as much art as science. How one player fits with the Hawks is completely different for other teams. Although there’s a tremendous amount of data available to Pete/John and other coaches/GM’s, they still miss bad on some high draft picks and hit big on mid/late round picks.

  13. Dale Roberts says:

    Excellent post Rob.

    February 19th – First day for clubs to designate franchise tags and transition players.
    February 26th through March 4th – Combine.
    March 11th – Free agency begins.
    March 24th through the 27th – Owner’s meeting.

    Is it fair to say that we will know the players who will probably be available to the Hawks and post free agency needs on April 1st? When are your milestones? BTW, I really liked it last year when you grouped players by talent level.

  14. jamho3 says:

    Really good analysis thank you Rob.

  15. clbradley17 says:

    Great article Rob. There are a Lot of excellent players throughout the draft and as you point out, we are very unlikely to get an elite talent at 21, and can pick up more draft picks/very good players who can start or be in the rotation by trading down. We all saw or heard about many extremely good players at the Senior Bowl who won’t be picked until day 2 or 3, most I’d never heard of before like Saunders, Collier, and some others there we might select after some trade-downs.

    One of those who I’d like to see us draft on day 3 if he’s still available is WR Gary Jennings Jr. of West Virginia, 6’1″ 213, heard Tony Pauline and the other podcasters and twitterers praise him all week for his speed and separation at the Senior Bowl practices and game. In the Senior Bowl game, he had a TD catch and a 54 yard reception that he had to slow down and fight for. Consistently seems to outrace the DBs so he may run in the 4.4s at the combine – we may be lucky if he lasts to round 4. Saw a post from a WVU fan that may encompass what he’s meant to the team – “Best pure receiver we have did the dirty work in between the chains all of last year. Has great hands. Very good outside of football as well and also very well spoken.”

    He mentions in this 2 min. WVU highlights video that he had a chip on his shoulder and wanted to beat Va. Tech. since they didn’t recruit him. Now that’s Seahawky!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FENuoD-Xa5s

    New 2018 highlights video with several fantastic receptions. Also displays what a variety of throws Grier can make, and why he may be an option in round 2 if we trade down:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvXcIVC_gFU

    • Sea Mode says:

      I need to take a closer look at him. Has nice size to work with. Good to hear those insights as well from those who know him.

      Heck, we could end up just loading up with WVU offense: Grier, Wesco, Jennings…

      (Also, I just noticed now that even though Deebo Samuel is only 5114 tall, he has 10 1/8 hands! Tied for largest of WRs at the Senior Bowl with Jalen Hurd, and Hurd is 6046!)

    • C-Dog says:

      A bit off topic, but I’ve enjoyed watching Grier the last few years whenever I caught the odd WV game, but I’ve been looking at a lot more highlight stuff, and I really like him now. IMO, if Seattle wants him, I think they are probably going to have to burn their first pick on him. In this draft, I don’t think he makes it out of R2.

      Dwayne Haskins I’m starting to like a lot more, as well. Daniel Jones I want to like more than I do. IDK, this QB class reminds me a lot of the 2011 glass. One dynamic passer, and a few that will probably be over drafted, and maybe a couple that if you draft an sit for a year or two, might develop into decent starters. I would put Grier into the latter group.

      • Rob Staton says:

        Grier is better than people give him credit for but with some flaws that might not be easily fixable. What he does well though — he’s very good at. Namely the deep ball, accuracy and better arm strength than I expected.

        The Kansas game is a nice balance to the highlights though because Grier had a stinker in that one.

        • C-Dog says:

          The things I like about Grier though, seem to be things that would fit this system. There seems to be tools for Schotty to work with if he’s not forced to start right away and I’m actually encouraged by the way Schotty cleaned up Russell’s game this year.

          On a separately related note, I peaked at Brissett’s 2017 highlight tape and noticed what seemed like a clear progression. If Seattle could figure out a way to get that guy here and agreed to a short extension, I’d be down for that move. Feels highly unlikely, though, because he wants to probably be a starter right away and I think the Colts GM is to try to work a deal to best put his m in that position. If anything, again shows Schotty can QB can coach a QB up.

  16. Tecmo Bowl says:

    Interestingly the current 3 days of draft format was implemented the same year JS/PC came to Seattle in 2010. If the draft was in the previous 2 day format, with rounds 1-3 on day 1 and 4-7 on day 2, there would be little fan frustration in trading down and out of round 1. Fans would only have to wait another hour or so to watch the Hawks pick, instead of 24+ hours. Impatience and watching personal favorites come off the board are my biggest gripes of the expected trade(s) down. Owning only 4 picks makes trading down a virtual lock. Can you bet on it in Vegas? Joking…kind of.
    Rob great article illustrating the strategy behind the inevitable.
    Go Hawks!

    • This is a very good point! I think you are dead on, the frustration comes from not getting a pick on the first night. Or in last year’s case, actually getting one that no one was particularly excited about (I shouldn’t say no one, but obviously a lot of Seahawks fans panned the Penny selection).

    • Volume12 says:

      We wait all year for the draft. What’s 24 hours compared to 364 days?

  17. Blue Goulding says:

    Also a question a bit of topic. Can anyone provide some information on what caused David Moore to disappear during the season? What are we looking at long term with Moore and what would it take for him to breakout next year as a top receiver. He certainly seems to have all the tools.

    • Aaron says:

      He is Kearse 2.0, a WR3 at best, but likely a WR4 or 5. What caused the late season drop off in production? Could be a lot of things, hard to say. If I had to venture to guess I’d say it was his role in the offense. He’s just a guy and not a breakout WR or a top target by any stretch.

  18. D-OZ says:

    Glad you brought up Jennings as I think he is the best WO in this class. He has everything, power, burst, hands, great instincts and vision and certainly functional speed. I think he is the most polished WO in this class.

  19. GoHawksDani says:

    To be honest if the Hawks could choose between a first round pick and a third round pick or 6 third round pick, I’d take the second one.
    It seems like they always trade questionable quality guys or simply busts in the first lately and they get amazing talent in the 3rd or later rounds. Late first is pretty mehh. Most of the guys are the same as early-mid second rounders, so if you can’t pick in the top10, I won’t mind trading back to early-mid second (unless some amazing talent falls hard)

  20. Volume12 says:

    With the NFL combine right around the corner, please don’t fall into the trap of reading NFL.com profiles.

    **Aaron Donald 2014**

    Weaknesses: ‘ Marginal height and frame is nearly maxed out. Hands are more active than strong-could play with more pop and power. Overpowered in the run game and ground up by double teams. Gets shared and controlled by bigger,longer blockers. Not a 2 gap player (lmao). Has some Gardner traits-lacks ideal length and bend to play outside.’

    Draft projection: rounds 4-5 😂😂😂

    Bottom line: ‘Short, scrappy, instinctive, highly productive defensive lineman who does not look the part, but inspires confidence he can be the exception to the rule. Is the type you root for and has the quickness, athleticism, and motor to earn a spot as a ROTATIONAL 3-technique in a fast flowing 4-3 scheme.’

    Look. We all get prospects wrong. And most of this is subjective for us, but how do you swing and miss that bad on a generational talent?

    • C-Dog says:

      Great point, V12. I think there is a lot to be said for trusting tape, not getting too hung up on what a player isn’t if they have a special it factor, and if they have a legitimate drive for greatness at the next level.

      Another case in point for that kind of determination; Jarran Reed busted his butt off all last off-season to develop into an every down player. College tape showed dominance against the run with some potential to grow as a rusher. NFL.com drafted up a profile on the guy basically stating you’d be wasting time trying to make him a pass rusher. I thought he was showing signs as a rookie that he could grow as a rusher.

      • Volume12 says:

        Yup. I vividly remember all through his rookie year you keep stating that he would grow into a good, maybe great pass rushing threat.

        And like you said. Always go back to the tape and trust your eyes.

    • Kenny Sloth says:

      +1££££££££

  21. Volume12 says:

    Just my 2 cents, but I don’t think what makes a guy the next anyone is a 6’3 CB or 5’11 QB for example. A big part of what made Sherm him was lasting until day 3. That chip on his shoulder. Pissed off for greatness.

    If Kyler Murray falls into the later part of day 2 then yeah, he might be the next RW. Until then/if not he’s the 1st Kyler Murray.

  22. clbradley17 says:

    Didn’t know he wasn’t, but just saw breaking news 3PM EST on ESPN that Kyler Murray is going to attend the combine.

  23. cha says:

    Stewart Mandel

    How rough was Signing Day for UCLA? One guy they were waiting on opted to walk-on at Washington instead.

    I mean, ouch.
    6:52 PM – 6 Feb 2019

    OOF CHIPPER

  24. Whit21 says:

    Good points made rob.

    Its actually pretty easy to look at wikipedia and see every year and they will change the color to denote if they were a pro bowler.. Most picks in the 20s are not much better than your second round picks.. and theres better players in the second round than the first round in some drafts. I just think they have missed with their first picks, which are sometimes second round picks.

    And its more noticeable to see when they picked christine michael, malik Mcdowell, or paul richardson and see all the probowl/all pros that came after those picks.. I dont think the Mcdowell pick was bad.. he was a beast DL.. just unfortunate hes a dummy.

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