Early draft picks have the Seahawks back in familiar territory and hoping to repeat past success

SEATTLE – Drafting early was not the part of their past that Seahawks general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll necessarily wanted to revisit.

But now that they are there – holding the ninth pick in the 2022 draft, as well as three of the top 41 – they’d be more than happy to relive how well they did the last time they had a lot of early picks.

Hitting on picks early, middle and late in the fabled drafts of 2010, 2011 and 2012 got the Seahawks where they were for so many years – playoff berths and first-round picks in the 20s or 30s.

It was the first draft in 2010 that particularly set the tone with Seattle getting left tackle Russell Okung at No. 6 and safety Earl Thomas at 14 (as well as Golden Tate in round two and Kam Chancellor in round five).

The ninth pick in this year’s draft, which Seattle got from Denver in the Russell Wilson trade, essentially replaced their own at No. 10, which they handed to the Jets as part of the Jamal Adams deal.

“It’s going to be different,” Schneider said last week. “We haven’t experienced it since the first year we were here; we had the two first-round draft picks. So there’s a lot of planning, a lot of thoughts that go through your head, a lot of different scenarios.”

Those include trading the pick – and according to a report from Pro Football Focus, not just down, as has been their usual M.O., but also potentially trying to move up.

Schneider acknowledged that just about everything is on the table.

“We may pick at nine, we may not, we don’t know yet,” Schneider said. “We’re going to do whatever we can to help this football team as much as we possibly can. It’s obviously exciting, but it’s not necessarily a place that you want to be drafting.”

What Seattle decides to do with the first pick will undoubtedly be influenced by how the draft unfolds.

But that, too, may be anybody’s guess at this point with the only consensus that no one seems to know for sure what will happen.

That includes with the first pick, where there is no sure No. 1 as there has been the past few years – the past four were all quarterbacks (Trevor Lawrence, 2021; Joe Burrow, 2020; Kyler Murray, 2019; Baker Mayfield, 2018).

About the only sure thing is that it won’t be a quarterback with Jacksonville again holding the first pick.

“There’s so little known that’s known at this point in time,” Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network said last week. “It’s kind of fun not even knowing who the first pick is going to be.”

That has had mock drafts picking a bevy of players No. 1 overall with players such as Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal, Georgia edge rusher Trayvon Walker, North Carolina State offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu and Michigan edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson each seeming to equally claim the mantle of being No. 1 at some point throughout the process.

“I don’t believe we’re ever had more intrigue than we do this year with this draft,” Jeremiah said.

Could any of those five fall to the Seahawks at nine?

If so, then the Seahawks may face the kind of choice they haven’t had since that 2010 draft, when Seattle famously had to decide whether to bypass Thomas to take Okung then spent anxious moments hoping Thomas would fall to them – Schneider has often repeated the story of worrying that when the Eagles traded to get the 13th pick he thought Thomas was gone.

“When Philadelphia moved, I thought Philadelphia was moving for Earl,” Schneider said in 2010.

Instead, Philly took defensive end Brandon Graham, leaving Thomas for Seattle. Who knows how that stroke of fate changed things for Seattle.

Graham has been a good player for the Eagles, turning in one of the more fabled plays in franchise history, the strip sack of Tom Brady in the Super Bowl a few years ago.

But the Seahawks wouldn’t have been what they became without Thomas.

Can Seattle strike it similarly rich 12 years later?

It’s not just the first pick that gives Seattle hope but also having picks 40 and 41 in the second round.

That ammo gives the Seahawks options to engage in trade talks and seek out the players they want.

“That was a big part of the trade,” Schneider said last week. “Being able to have that flexibility with a second draft pick, especially in this year’s draft the way the way things look to us. But it does give you flexibility in picking back-to-back or being able to move around if we deem necessary.”

But what it also does is put the pressure on Schneider and Carroll to come through again.

After the Wilson trade, Carroll relayed a story that team chair Jody Allen told him and Schneider they were back in their wheelhouse with lots of draft picks and cap space and a roster that needed some retooling.

“There is definitely an excitement about this because there’s only so many things that can happen,” Carroll said last week of holding the ninth pick. “When you’re picking 25th, and 28th, and down, there’s a million scenarios. This is not like that. It’s a little different. So, there’s a different level of excitement about the opportunity. As John said, we’ll be interested to see how other people see it and are they willing to come chasing that spot, too. Just everything about it. Just more challenging, more exciting.”

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