Apr 28, 2012; Renton, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks first-round draft pick Bruce Irvin, poses for a picture with his mother, Bessie Lee, right, mentor Chad Allen, left, and girlfriend Alyssa Hackworth, following a press conference in the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE

Pete Carroll’s and John Schneider’s Draft in Perspective

The fallout of the NFL draft has finally begun to settle and the analysts, critics, “experts,” and people that are supposed to know have begun the regularly scheduled shelling of Seattle’s choices.  While I can honestly say that I had no idea who Bruce Irvin was when we drafted him (I was expecting Chandler Jones from Syracuse), my first reaction wasn’t that of “how could they get it so wrong.”  Instead, I thought to myself, “Do I really know all the players in college well enough to have an educated critique of this?”  The answer, of course, is no.

There are people who are paid large sums of money to know this – Mel Kiper and Mike Mayock to name a couple – and even they were shocked by Seattle’s choices in the draft.  Yet, they didn’t have the intellectually honest reaction that some had.  Rather, they reacted as if Pete Carroll and John Schneider had no clue what they were doing and just napalmed Seattle’s future.  This is the nature of pundits in all realms of punditry, though, and admitting you’re wrong or misinformed does not come naturally to them.

Another problem is that the Seahawks are not being built like a typical NFL team.  They don’t draft the very best player available no matter what the position.  They might not even draft the “very best” player in a position they need, instead taking the best player that fits what they are trying to do.  Instead of trying to pool talent, generally, they are looking for players, specifically, that will complement their system.  To evaluate Seattle’s draft picks, you need to view it through that lens.   Of course that means one would have to dig a little deeper and take some time to understand what was going on up in South Alaska, but it means that the professional analysis would be that much better.  For better or worse, Seattle is not your typical NFL team.  (It’s also important to remember that it takes three years to actually be able to evaluate a team’s draft class.)

The way I understand Carroll and Schneider’s big idea, is that on defense they want a general framework in which they can plug in various players depending on the circumstances (opponent, situation, and desired outcome).   Sometimes they might need a super-fast pass rusher within a 3-4 defense and plug in Irvin to create some pressure.  Other times, they might be stopping the run, or just trying to make sure passes go incomplete.  Pete Carroll likes having specific tools in the tool box for specific situations.  That’s why he runs a hybrid 3-4 4-3 defense.   And because of this, the Seahawks are not going to draft in the typical NFL fashion.  Flexibility in specificity of players is valued higher than really good every-down generalists.

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  • anonymouscommodore

    This sucks.  You don’t think other teams have pass rush specialists or run-stop specialists?  You don’t think other teams have third-down backs and tight ends that can only block?  Are you telling me that Pete Carroll is the only coach running a hybrid defense and that Mel Kiper knows less about NFL prospects than Pete Carroll simply because you know less?  And are you really saying that the Hawks are the only team in the league that doesn’t just look at the draft board and take the best player?!?  Every team does that, FFS.  Matt Millen was the only GM that tried that and he ended up with 8 WRs that sucked.  How about Han the Man mans up and calls it like it is which is a bad draft. You don’t need 3 years to figure out that Jamarcus Russell was a bust.  WTF is Bruce Irvin and why did we take him so high? 
    By the time the draft rolls around Kiper has watched most of the top 150 players for at least 3 years bc his job is the draft.  Carroll has many jobs and can’t possibly devote as much time to the draft as Kiper does because Carroll is busy coaching an NFL team for 6 months of the year.  Kiper is busy working the prospect analysis.  Come on, Han the Man.

  • Evilmd80

    @anonymouscommodore And how many prospects did kiper actually get right this year? With the exception of the first 2.

    I think that what Han the Man was getting at is that Schneider and Carroll don’t value guys the way the pundits and possibly even other teams value them. I was shocked like most people at the pick, but not disappointed after reading up on these guys. Hindsight is always 20/20.

    As for saying that 3 years isn’t necessary simply because Jamarcus “purple drank” Russell was, you need to keep perspective that he was drafted by Al Davis, who took him because he could throw the ball 80 yards off of a knee. Darrius heyward-bey because he ran the fastest time at the combine. So keep that in mind too. Plus remember how much of a sure thing Aaron curry was supposed to be too.

  • HughWaltermann

    Nice try!!!!

  • HanleyBonynge

     @anonymouscommodore I absolutely believe that other teams have specialists and different and complex defensive schemes. (Not sure who else uses a Leo position, though.) My larger point was that with the Seahawks, and, if you want, all 31 other teams, being completely unique, then it means that no matter how much time guys like Kiper can spend rating people and hypothesizing, they will generalize strategies.  On top of that, some teams do draft the best possible player no matter what (often to trade), while others draft the best possible fit or for need.You can think what you want about the quality of the draft, and flame-outs like JaMarcus Russell are always the first and easiest to spot, but to really evaluate a whole class takes time.  Also, by your logic, Kiper, because all he does is watch college players, should know the best player for every team, should basically be omnipotent and how could a coach and GM ever pick someone that he doesn’t agree with AND be correct in doing so?  It’s not so much that one is right and one is wrong, it’s more of just because Kiper didn’t predict it, doesn’t make the pick bad or wrong.  Coaches and GMs have made bad picks, and Kiper would have made bad picks.  That’s the nature of the business.Also, it’s now common knowledge that other teams had Bruce Irvin just as high as we did, so saying that he was going to slide back would have required quite the gamble, or Schneider said being “too cute.”  As it was the top three DEs went 15, 16, 17 and esteemed teams such as the Patriots had Irvin as highly-rated as the Seahawks.
    You don’t have to like the draft, but you definitely can’t declare it a bust at this point. None of the players have even played any game time and it’s not a secret that if you don’t perform, you’ll be cut.