John Schneider speaks candidly about the 2011 draft

Not pictured: Poker face

Posted by Kip Earlywine

John Schneider was recently interviewed on 950 am on the Mitch in the Morning program.  If you haven’t heard it, you can listen by following this link.

I don’t know if this was on purpose, but in several ways, John Schneider’s regime has been the polar opposite his predecessor’s.  No issues with drafting from small schools.  Character concerns are given relatively little consideration.  Size, speed, and athleticism are generally considered above intangibles and college production.  He brings a massive emphasis on the offensive line and the running game.  And he hasn’t been a regular player for big name free agents the way Tim Ruskell always seemed to be.

But maybe the biggest difference of all could be how the two play their cards.  Tim Ruskell, despite having drafts that often felt very predictable, would almost never go into gritty details even after the fact, like a professional poker player who won’t show the hand he just folded.  Not so for John Schneider.

I won’t rehash the whole interview, but there were a few portions that really grabbed my attention.

  1. Schneider said that James Carpenter was the teams #2 overall tackle prospect, ahead of USC’s Tyron Smith.  That speaks volumes of how highly they thought of Carpenter, since Carroll knew as well as anyone about Smith’s abilities.  With this in mind, it’s looking more and more that Seattle went BPA at #25, at least in their own minds, rather than reaching for a need.
  2. I like the way this front office evaluates talent, but every now and then, I’m left scratching my head.  The #1 tackle on their board was Nate Solder.  I need to send Bill Belichick a thank you card.
  3. I still don’t like the KJ Wright pick, but its neat that Minnesota called Seattle to make a deal to move up in the 4th, and after Seattle picked Wright instead, Minnesota let Seattle know they were targeting the same guy.
  4. He also hinted at Seattle making big changes on the defensive line in free agency.  But given Ted Thompson’s and John Schneider’s combined background, its safe to say it probably won’t be overly splashy.
  5. He talked about undrafted free agents like they were major signings.  He didn’t name names, but I thought it was interesting that every single player he hinted at played defense.  I think its kind of funny that Schneider is so jazzed about signing UDFA’s.  Of the 15 he signed last year, only Josh Pinkard is still on the roster.
  6. He didn’t talk about Chris Spencer, but talked about Unger and Moffitt in a way that would indicate that Unger has already been anointed the future at center.
  7. In maybe the most profound moment of the interview, Schneider casually asserted his philosophy that a team needs to build an offensive line first before getting its quarterback.  I know this subject is hotly debated but here we see clearly which side of the debate Schneider falls on.
  8. Finally, he said Charlie Whitehurst has a “50-50” chance of being the starter next year, but in a rare case of evasiveness, probably only gave that answer not to be truthful but to be as vague as possible.  I think its pretty clear that Seattle is going to only start Whitehurst after a dozen other options for veterans fall through.

Anyway, regardless of whether I agree with everything John Schneider says, its very refreshing to have a GM that will give us an inside look and help scratch some of those curiosities we’ve had lingering.  As far as being a better poker player, I’m not going to say that guarding information isn’t important, but it didn’t help Tim Ruskell much and it hasn’t really hurt John Schneider.  When it comes to the most important things, Schneider is good enough at keeping things on the down low, and he’s been wise about choosing which topics to share with the public later.  And that’s something I appreciate quite a bit as a fan, since we watch sports to be entertained, and that includes the offseason as well.


  1. Blake

    About the UDFAs; I think its hard not to be excited. Wasnt it something like 23 probowlers this last year were UDFAs? Its a chance to bring in quantity, and some may turn out to be quality 🙂 There are definitely some good SS propsects I hope we grab. Ricardo Lockette (WR) pretty much spilled the beans about being a seahawk. Now, he is not amazing, but an excellent player to have on the PS in my view.

    • SoCalSeahawker

      I had never heard of Ricardo Lockett so I goggled him. This is what I found and is all I need to know.
      Height 6-2
      Weight 211
      40 Yard Dash: 4.34
      20 Yard Dash: 2.48
      10 Yard Dash: 1.52
      That’s enough for me to see this guy in camp and see if he can run a route and catch a football.

  2. Al

    Just a quick one to say that it’s great to have you back contributing to the blog, Kip. This blog along with Field Gulls and 17power mean that we Seahawks fans are very fortunate to be so well served. Keep up the good work.

    • Kip Earlywine

      Thanks and I agree- its great having so much to read about- especially with so little going on thanks to the lockout.

  3. SoCalSeahawker

    J Schnide and PC are doing it the right way. I heard Dilfer a couple days after the draft and they were talking about the Hawks QB situation. He said as a QB you actually aren’t too excited about the team taking an OL in the first round. He said it takes a little time for them to adjust to the league and in that time you take some punishment.
    Our QB of the future is in next year’s draft. The ideal situation I forsee is for the Hawks to find a way to get Palmer. He gives us a solid three year stop gap, and a very competent QB, until the future is ready to take the helm. By that time this OL will have three to four years working together. The foundation is set.
    I know fans love to see glitz and glammor with the draft, but this needed to be done. This team is headed in the right direction.

  4. Nick J

    I heard the interview live and thoroughly enjoyed how open and candid JS was. And to be fair, Mitch does ask some good questions. Schneider had something to say about almost every one of his late picks and cited the importance to him and Hawks FO of accumulating picks. I like the way they do things and am excited for the future of this team. The upcoming season might not be the best, but the future is bright.

  5. James

    I like that Pete and John are laying the foundation first. Their first two #1 picks were offensive tackles, Okung and Carpenter, plus Moffitt. How foundational can you be? Other elements of the base are the DBs: Earl Thomas, Walter Thurmond, Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, Mark LeGree, Byron Maxwell; and the LBs: Dexter Davis, Joe Pawelek (UFDA they really seem to like), KJ Wright, Malcolm Smith, to go with Curry and Heater. This clearly indicates a plan they are disciplined to. Only WRs Golden Tate and Kris Durham are semi-sexy picks. No QB, no DLs-those will be the next steps. Marshawn just fell into their laps, but you have to figure you will have to replace your RB every 3 years. I believe they view either Whitehurst or Hasselbeck as a one or two year fill in (Plan D), but I believe they are targeting Kolb or Carson Palmer (if they believe they can get 5 more good years out of him) as their guy, Plan A, when they hit their peak window, from about 2 to 5 years from now. Plan B would be to aim for one of the top three QBs from next year’s draft, Luck, Jones or Barkley, all of whom will rate far higher than any this year. We will know soon enough.

  6. Rob

    What I would say is – plans change. I wonder if Seattle, having graded Blaine Gabbert as the #1 ranked QB on their board, would’ve drafted him if they had the #8 pick (defeat to STL would’ve led to that)?

    They clearly didn’t rate the options at #25 and felt the value came on the offensive line. We can sit here and debate how they have intended to plan around the QB position, the OL or whatever… but circumstances dictated that plan to a degree. Would they have taken Tyron Smith over Blaine Gabbert in the top ten? I guess we’ll never know.

    • Kip Earlywine

      Looking at the options at #8, Gabbert and Fairley would be the two obvious choices in my view.

      I think its safe to say that the Seahawks teams of the next several years will probably be at least a little worse for having won that division, maybe a lot worse if Gabbert becomes an all-pro, but I still think it was worth it. I still say that was the most entertaining Seahawks playoff game of all time, by a mile. Easily worth it. Here’s hoping Carpenter and Moffitt play lights out.

  7. woofu

    Some how listening to this,,,

    ,,,,and drafting Carpenter makes total sense now!

    When the Seahawks chose Alabama tackle James Carpenter in the first round of the draft — an upset; many teams had second-round grades on him — the chatter on both channels had analysts questioning the pick. Whether the analysts turn out to be right or wrong, that’s not a popular thing to hear when you’ve just made a pick that’s been 11 months of scouting in the making.

    So the Seahawks muted both channels and put on Pandora, the personalized Internet radio thing, and soon had Reggae music filling the draft room.

    Read more:

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