RENTON, Wash. – With no players to work with during the NFL's labor issues, Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider has found a few more voices chiming in about whom the Seahawks should look at in the NFL draft.
Pete Carroll and the rest of Seattle's coaching staff need something to do since there haven't been players around team headquarters.
"They have always been involved but they are just having much more fun with it this year," Schneider said. "They usually do their football stuff in the morning and they have might have some meetings with the guys after they are lifting and they will work on their draft stuff. Right now, they are just in to it. They're calling their buddies. My point is they are just having more fun with it. I actually give them grief about it."
But the grief is all good-natured and should make for a smoother process inside the Seahawks draft room this time around.
Last year when Schneider and Carroll were in the infancy of having just taken over control of the Seahawks football operations, the draft was a hodgepodge of different methodologies.
The grading scales that the Seahawks scouts had used to evaluate college prospects under the previous football administration were kept in place, but Schneider also added his own input based off his years working in Green Bay. There was also the integration of a new coaching staff that was trying to pinpoint exactly what the Seahawks philosophies were going to be offensively and defensively and meshing that with how the Seahawks' draft board was going to be built.
"We wanted to make sure these guys were in the basic system they could be in and then I was kind of still on my own, Green Bay format," Schneider said. "This year, we've had our own grading scale, we've added a grade. We've done a lot of great things. Everybody knows what to expect."
Of course, having everyone on the same page didn't matter in the first round a year ago when Seattle drafted sixth and 14th overall and selected left tackle Russell Okung and safety Earl Thomas.
But this year with Seattle owning the 25th pick and having a significant number of holes to fill at various positions, getting more coaches on board earlier is proving beneficial.
It means more time to make phone calls and do research. More time to attend pro days and workouts. While Carroll says the staff is doing its part to work on the Seahawks offensive and defensive schemes, his coaches are also being recruited to help evaluate.
"With the time we've had available, we've really had an opportunity to dig in draft wise and do special projects and go in and evaluate and re-evaluate. I've always said the evaluation process that's always on going and that means we keep digging and keep trying to find the truth that we're seeking," Carroll said. "The guys have been available more so and we've just had more time for it. ... We've hopefully complemented the process."
While the 25th pick — if Seattle stays there — is important, it could be the later rounds where the additional involvement of the coaching staff could pay off. The Seahawks also have the 57th, 99th, 156th and 157th selections and Schneider has made no secret of his desire to possibly move out of the 25th spot if it means Seattle can pick up additional middle-round selections.
Does that make the draft process easier? Possibly. But Carroll says the Seahawks aren't necessarily seeking out an easy path.
"We were very connected with our thoughts last year. John did a very good job of getting me on track with where we needed to be and I feel, and I think John feels, we've done more than we had available last year," Carroll said. "So we feel better about it. But I don't know if we're looking for easy. It should be a good challenging process and we look forward to some of the tough decisions based off the work we've done."