John Schneider, you wily fox.
The Seahawks traded eight times during the NFL Draft (if you're counting the Frank Clark trade, which is close enough that we can fudge it) to turn a league-low 4 selections into a strong 11 picks. I always support teams who trade back and in doing so, acquire more cracks at the bat.
Round 1, Pick 29: L.J. Collier, EDGE, TCU
Round 2, Pick 47: Marquise Blair, S, Utah
Round 2, Pick 64: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Round 3, Pick 88: Cody Barton, LB, Utah
Round 4, Pick 120: Gary Jennings, WR, West Virginia
Round 4, Pick 124: Phil Haynes, G, Wake Forest
Round 4, Pick 132: Ugochukwu Amadi, S, Oregon
Round 5, Pick 142: Ben Burr-Kirven, LB, Washington
Round 6, Pick 204: Travis Homer, RB, Miami
Round 6, Pick 209: Demarcus Christmas, DT, Florida St.
Round 7, Pick 236: John Ursua, WR, Hawaii
Now, the loss of Frank Clark is tough to ignore, especially when his departure was answered only with the selection of Collier -- a player I had graded as a fifth-rounder (scroll down). But the Seahawks leaned on local talent and plus athletes throughout their draft process, hitting value after value against my board by acquiring players with clear role fits in their system. I love this class like I love dweeby Russell Wilson and his behemoth contract. Let's feed Rashaad Penny, go 10-6, and get freaky as a 5-seed, baby.
Best Pick: DEKAYLIN
D.K. Metcalf was a favorite of The Draft Network staff for almost a calendar year before he was finally selected at 2.64 by the Seattle Seahawks -- and for every pick of that second round, we expressed our further and further disbelief that he continued to fall.
It wasn't much expected that Seattle would be the landing spot for the draft's highest-ceiling wideout, but given reports that Doug Baldwin may not return to Seattle after back-to-back injury-marred seasons, it makes sense that the Seahawks wanted to invest early in the position. As it stands, the Seahawks grabbed a Top-10 player on my board and the TDN Consensus Board at the turn of the second round, which is wild value at a position of sudden need.
Metcalf also fills a role in the Seahawks' receiving corps that was available even when Baldwin was healthy: that of an elite contested-catch receiver, given his size, strength, and catch radius. He should be a favorable option on Seattle's shot plays off of play action, and will not be responsible for the multi-break routes that Tyler Lockett will handle from the Z position.
Worst Pick: TCU EDGE L.J. Collier
Color me one of Collier's fiercest skeptics, as I had him ranked at 146 overall -- which is decidedly not 29 overall. Not even a little bit.
Collier's selection does serve as a good reminder as to the difference between fits and archetypes. Many have slotted Collier in for the big 5-tech role that was famously filled by Michael Bennett in the Seattle interpretation of the 4-3. The 5-tech in Seattle has to fill a bevy of responsibilities and roles, and Bennett did so with quickness, flexibility, and explosiveness.
Collier fits into the Seattle mold of the 4-3 given his size -- but to compare him to the Bennett archetype at the position is foolhardy, in my opinion. (I'm fully aware that Pete Carroll did just that; I disagree with him there.) Collier isn't slippery; he's powerful. He has some quickness, but he isn't yet economical and intentional in his steps, and he doesn't throw many rush moves. He's going to play the same role as Bennett did so well for the Seahawks, but he's not going to win in the same ways -- nor is he going to win with the same frequency.
Best Day 3 Pick: Washington LB Ben Burr-Kirven
Tough to find a bigger Burr-Kirven fan than yours truly. Off of 2017 film, I was impressed with BBK's quickness in tight spaces, strong recognition and diagnosis, and instincts in zone coverage -- I considered him a potential WILL or SS/LB hybrid. In 2018, Burr-Kirven showed an improved tackle radius and stronger block deconstruction -- and while he's still not the ideal size for a MIKE 'backer, he has more translatable traits to traditional LB play than I originally believed.
The path to starting for Burr-Kirven isn't yet clear, as Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright have death grips on the starting LB roles, and fellow 2019 selection Cody Barton's higher draft capital will likely warrant an earlier crack at rotational play. But Burr-Kirven's quickness and smarts in zone coverage will help him stick as a potential dime linebacker, and his hair-on-fire play style should lock him into special-teams contributions.
Just as it did for Burr-Kirven in 2017 with the Huskies, it only takes one injury and a small window for starting opportunity to change a player's outlook. As long as he makes the roster, he'll stay ready.
Overall Grade: A+
The Seahawks have my favorite draft class of them all. I didn't even get enough in on the Amadi, Haynes, and Jennings picks -- all of which are great, great selections. John Schneider turned a thumbtack into magic beans with his series of trades, and while their early picks quirked my eyebrow -- as is often the case with Seattle's drafts -- their late-rounders all scored positively against my board. Really wonderful work.