Nov 17, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) during pre game warm ups prior to the game against the Minnesota Vikings at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Draft Pedigree Means Nothing In Seattle

 

 

When it comes to the 10-1 Seahawks John Schneider has put on a roster construction clinic. The Seahawks have their stars but they also have excellent depth and quality role players. Schneider has primarily built this team through the draft but he has not been gun shy when it comes to adding free agents. This year, Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett have been absolutely fantastic finds in free agency. However, the bread and butter of this front office is the draft. Although there have been some misses (James Carpenter is starting to look like a dicey 1st rounder for instance) they have been few and far between.

What’s especially remarkable about the way this front office drafts is the value they’ve found in the later rounds. In fact, when you combine with excellent late round drafting with Pete Carroll’s competition based culture you find a team where draft pedigree is not especially important. This is a team comprised largely of guys taken in later rounds who have exceeded expectations. There are still players like Russell Okung, Earl Thomas and Bruce Irvin, but on a team led by a quarterback drafted in the third round they are the exception not the rule.

In order to quantify this phenomenon I compared the Seahawks to their divisional rivals in terms of the draft pedigree of the opening day starters. The chart below shows how many starters each team has who were drafted in each round of the draft. The final column on the right averages all of them  to create the average draft round of a starter on that team. I counted undrafted free agents as “drafted in Round 8” for the purposes of the calculation:

Team 1st Rnd 2nd Rnd 3rd Rnd 4th Rnd 5th Rnd 6th Rnd 7th Rnd Undrafted Average
SEA

3

5

3

3

4

0

2

2

3.82

SF

9

2

4

0

2

1

1

2

2.91

ARI

7

3

5

1

1

1

2

2

3.32

STL

7

4

5

1

0

0

3

2

3.23

 

The Seahawks number is slightly skewed because Bruce Irvin, a first round pick, wasn’t in the opening day lineup, but that wouldn’t have made a huge difference. The Seahawks have leaned far less on 1st round talent, which helps explain why they have so many cheap young players. This chart shows that the Seahawks have been very good at identifying talent in the later rounds, although that’s something we already knew.

If you wanted to dive into believable but purely speculative narrative you could say that John Schneider and Pete Carroll have assembled a team of guys with chips on their shoulders. Guys like Richard Sherman often still discuss their draft standing and how they feel disrespected by the league. That can be an enormous source of motivation for some players. It’s unreasonable to assume that’s the way this front office is building the team intentionally, I’m pretty sure they would take a talented player regardless of where he went in the draft, but it’s an interesting side note.

The Seahawks are a good team. It’s hard to be 10-1 and be an awful team. They are doing it through the draft and player development and they are doing it with guys that other teams failed to see the value in. That’s a great credit to this front office.

 

 

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