On Friday, the Seahawks will be on the clock for the first time at pick No. 56 in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Heading into the event, the team is armed with the least draft capital of any team since 1999.
And it doesn’t look like a marquee trade will go down over the next two days, with star players like quarterback Russell Wilson and safety Jamal Adams too valuable to part ways with at this stage. Meanwhile, the Seahawks experienced a disastrous situation with defensive tackle Jarran Reed—a player who should have netted them a relatively high pick and yet, they ended up cutting him and were left empty-handed.
NFL teams have to replenish their respective rosters through the draft, where rookie contracts are so cheap. Merely identifying solid contributors helps a roster so much, especially when said team is committing a significant amount of cap space to one player. In Seattle’s case, that player would be its franchise quarterback, Wilson, whose mega deal eats up 17.5 percent of the cap.
I explored three ways Seattle can get more draft picks last week. The Seahawks’ second-round selection is their shiniest remaining asset and, given their paltry three-pick total, it would be staggering for Seattle to stick-and-pick at No. 56. Thankfully for them, general manager John Schneider is proven at draft maneuvers. There are many interesting trade options for that second-round pick.
Pro Football Network’s mock draft simulator is free, easy to use, and helps demonstrate my point. I spent an hour running through drafts to see the different scenarios I could create. I have sorted these trade-downs into different categories: “Small Trade Down,” “Trading Down Further,” “Getting Two Third-Rounders,” and "Moving Multiple Picks."
Two things to note: One, the artificial intelligence is able to trade with other AI-controlled teams. Two, if the image is headlined “Trade Details,” I negotiated the deal with the AI rather than being offered it off the bat.
How do we grade how well I did? By using trade value charts found at Drafttek.com. Each pick is given a value and teams try to match the scores up in a deal. NFL teams use these models to achieve a “fair” outcome from each trade. They look to use the same chart as each other so that everyone is on the same page.
“For you to have a chart that’s different than the other 31 charts isn’t really that productive because now we’re just arguing about which chart–‘My chart says this. Your chart says that,’” Patriots Head Coach/General Manager Bill Belichick explained in April 2019. “I would say everybody probably uses about the same value chart.”
Firstly, there is the classic Jimmy Johnson trade value model. This is outdated, although it remains relevant as shown by recent NFL events.
In addition to the Jimmy Johnson model, I’ve included the Rich Hill trade value chart underneath my trade-downs. This is explained by Drafttek: “Teams are reported to use a revised trade value model in recent years, as discussed by Bill Belichick. Drafttek provides an alternate trade value model, developed by Rich Hill of Pats Pulpit, which we believe more accurately reflect the trades of the past several years.”
In the article where Hill unveiled his model, he included this pre-2018 NFL Draft quote from Belichick:
“I’d say [the draft chart] has been modified now to a certain degree because of the ability to trade compensatory picks,” Belichick said. “In the past those picks really, I wouldn’t say don’t have any value, but they didn’t have much value because you couldn’t do anything with them other than pick a player at that spot. Now that those picks are tradeable, that changes things a little bit because they are capital to move up, move back, or you could move into those spots or trade them for other players...I’d say the draft chart has been modified a little bit based on the change in that.”
Hill’s model “measures how teams value each draft pick. ... Showing what teams are actually spending on draft picks.”
Let me know which trade you like best - or if you can do better - by getting in touch with me on Twitter @mattyfbrown.
Small Trade Down
This gets the ball rolling in a short-and-sweet way, adding a fourth-round pick. The second Saints option feels fanciful, although never underestimate the desperation of a front office who has fallen in love with 'their guy.'
Seahawks receive: Picks No. 59, 166 | Titans receive: Pick No. 56
Jimmy Johnson: TEN 340, SEA 333.4 | Rich Hill: TEN 98, SEA 100
Seahawks receive: Picks No. 60, 133 | Saints receive: Pick No. 56
JJ: NO 340, SEA 339.5 | RH: NO 98, SEA 107
Seahawks receive: Picks No. 58, 175 | Chiefs receive: Pick No. 56
JJ: KC 340, SEA 339.8 | RH: KC 98, SEA 100
Seahawks receive: Picks No. 59, 132 | Browns receive: Pick No. 56
JJ: CLE 340, SEA 350 | RH: CLE 98, SEA 110
Seahawks receive: Picks No. 57, 141 | Rams receive: Pick No. 56
JJ: LAR 340, SEA 365.5 | RH: LAR 98, SEA 112
Seahawks receive: Picks No. 60, 105 | Saints receive: Pick No. 56
JJ: NO 340, SEA 384 | RH: NO 98, SEA 127
Trading Down Further
This could be a way of getting more value, although the risk - which I’ll get to - is scarier. With the small trade-down, you can reassess before moving down again, probably adding better value than what you get with the below one-off moves
Seahawks receive: Picks No. 67, 109 | Texans receive: Pick No. 56
JJ: HOU 340, SEA 331 | RH: HOU 98, SEA 107
Seahawks receive: Picks No. 64, 99 | Cowboys receive: Pick No. 56
JJ: DAL 340, SEA 374 | RH: DAL 98, SEA 117
Getting Two Third-Rounders
There are teams who don’t pick at the bottom of the second round but are situated with serious options a bit later on. If the Seahawks are fine jumping down well into the third round and missing out entirely on the top-75 range, there are possibilities. The Raiders deal is dreamy.
Seahawks receive: Picks No. 89, 91, 132 | Browns receive: Pick No. 56
JJ: CLE 340, SEA 321 | RH: CLE 98, SEA 109
Seahawks receive: Picks No. 72, 101 | Lions receive: Pick No. 56
JJ: DET 340, SEA 326 | RH: DET 98, SEA 102
Seahawks receive: Picks No. 79, 80 | Raiders receive: Pick No. 56
JJ: LV 340, SEA 385 | RH: LV 98, SEA 113
Moving Multiple Picks
With Seattle holding just three picks, trading two of them almost as soon as possible does appear rash. However, this decision does not rule out future trade-downs and it transforms the latter pick into something more valuable.
Seahawks receive: Picks No. 59, 126 | Titans receive: Picks No. 56, 250
JJ: TEN 341, SEA 356 | RH: TEN 99, SEA 115
Seahawks receive: Picks No. 77, 97, 118 | Chargers receive: Picks No. 56, 129
JJ: LAC 383, SEA 375 | RH: LAC 119, SEA 124
Seahawks receive: Picks No. 62, 92 | Packers receive: Picks No. 56, 129
JJ: GB 383, SEA 416 | RH: GB 119, SEA 127
Seahawks receive: Picks No. 59, 91 | Browns receive: Picks No. 56, 129
JJ: CLE 383, SEA 446 | RH: 119, SEA 135
One team I was surprised didn’t give me attention was the Vikings. While in the PFN simulator world the Seahawks didn’t encounter them, it’s more likely to happen in the actual 2021 NFL Draft. Although Minnesota doesn’t possess a second-round pick, they have two third-rounders (No. 78 and 90) and four fourth-rounders (No. 119, 125, 134, and 143).
“To have the draft capital that we have, it gives us a lot of flexibility, hopefully, to be able to move up in the draft if we want to go do that,” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said on April 27, implying a trade up into the second-round.
Seattle could give pick No. 56 (340 JJ, 98 RH) for pick No. 78, 119, and 134 (295 JJ, 100 RH). The Seahawks would lose their second-rounder, but gain a third and two fourths. Whatever the exact fourth-round picks exchanged, Seattle would add more power to navigate the value in the third round onwards.
The Seahawks, and specifically John Schneider, have spoken in terms of ledges, shelves, tiers, and cut-offs when it comes to the draft for some time. Seattle aims to avoid being left too far at the bottom of a positional ledge or overall talent ledge when it comes to the draft. Schneider has repeatedly spoke on this:
April 2012 pre-draft: “Little cut-offs or ledges,” with Schneider wondering if their 12 overall pick was one of them.
April 2017 pre-draft: “Last year, it just looked really thick all the way through. This year, there’s just a couple different gaps. That’s just for us. I’m not sure if it’s for every other team. We scout for our team and not for the league. So it’s just based on what our needs look like, and there appears to be more gaps in there. More so than last year, but to say previous years, not necessarily. There always are some ledges in there.”
April 2018 pre-draft: “In 2010, 2011, 2012 we had less numbers [on the Seahawks draft board] just in general...and then for one reason or another, we continued to add more and more players, and it’s just too much.” “It’s easier to study [with a cleaner draft board]. It’s easier to figure out where the ledges are, the drop-offs, or where the strengths are.”
February 2020 NFL Combine: “Like every draft, there’s certain drop offs, we call them ledges, and there’s a couple pretty steep ones [in 2020].”
When considering the above trade-down options, it’s important to keep in mind the “ledges” that influence Seattle. The front office may take a deal that is poorer in value over the risk of falling off a ledge on their draft board. A 2021 NFL Draft example is interior offensive line, where the tier disparities look severe in that day two range.
When I say “SECOND ROUND,” you say “TRADE DOWN!”