Looking Ahead to the Draft


Posted by: Shaun Dolence

I’ve never been a big advocate of mock drafts; it is amusing to see all of the “experts” forecast possible outcomes, but they’re never completely accurate. I have tried to never fall into the trap of trying to predict what will happen on draft day, but I suppose I’ll end up putting together some sort of mock draft this year for the blog.

Unfortunately for my impending mock draft, the Seahawks have Tim Ruskell running the show. I describe the situation as unfortunate not because I think he is a bad general manager, but because he is very unpredictable at times. So before I compile a mock draft of sorts, I’m going to think aloud in a few posts; trying to identify Ruskell’s draft trends and what scenario might match up best, given what history tells us. After I go through identifying trends and take a look at previous drafts, we’ll move on to draft needs and then likely scenarios (mock draft).

So what do we know about Ruskell and his draft day strategies? To keep things simple, we’re going to look at trends that have surfaced during his tenure in Seattle, although a few hints may be derived from his time in Atlanta and Tampa Bay.

High Effort, High Character: It is very rare that Ruskell will take a chance on a guy who has a problematic background, or a tendency to take plays off. You won’t see Ruskell draft guys like Jerramy Stevens and Ken Hamlin – great players in college with questionable character. If you’re looking at a draft guide and it says anything about a player having a poor work ethic or a deplorable character, it is likely they won’t be selected by the Seahawks (e.g., selecting Kelly Jennings, passing on Jimmy Williams). This aspect has arguably impacted personnel decisions more so than anything else during Ruskell’s tenure.

Best Player Available: As opposed to drafting players by need, Ruskell has been pretty firm on drafting the player rated highest on their draft board. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll never “reach” for a player (Lofa Tatupu, John Carlson), but they won’t select a player because their position fills a need (Chris Spencer). This is the reason Ruskell’s drafts are so difficult to predict – you don’t know what his draft board looks like, or what players he was high on, until AFTER draft day. Did anyone see the Seahawks taking Lawrence Jackson in the first round last year? Ruskell: “That was the perfect scenario: to be able to get Jackson and Carlson.”

Four-year Starters: According to Tim Ruskell, every player the Seahawks select would have been a starter, or at least a major contributor, in each of his college seasons. This is more of a luxury than anything, because although Ruskell tends to stay away from one year wonders (Devin Thomas), he has drafted players whose contributions during college were relatively small – the Seahawks drafted Chris Spencer with their first pick in 2005, a one year starter who declared for the NFL after his junior season. From Ruston Webster, Seahawks vice president of player personnel: “The guys that are four-year starters, especially at the big schools, that means something. I have always been partial to four-year starters.”

Big Schools: As evident by their recent draft history, Tim Ruskell likes to take players from big schools in big conferences. In fact, Tim Ruskell has only drafted ONE player not from a BCS school since he has been with Seattle – Tyler Schmitt from San Diego State. By theory, players from big schools play against top-level competition, and are easier to read and determine their NFL potential.