Revisiting Seahawks First-Round Pick History Under John Schneider
Since signing on as the Seahawks general manager in 2010, John Schneider has built one of the NFL's most consistent contenders over the past decade.
Reaching the postseason eight of the past 10 years, Seattle has only finished below .500 twice during Schneider's tenure. Interestingly, the team reached the playoffs as an NFC West champion in one of those instances.
But while Schneider nailed his first two first-round picks by snagging tackle Russell Okung and safety Earl Thomas as foundational building blocks, much of the Seahawks success hasn't resulted from strong drafting in the first round. In fact, he's only made a first-round selection in six of his 10 drafts at the helm, with four of those seven selections being offensive or defensive linemen.
After sitting pat with his initial three first-rounders, Schneider began his mad scientist ways navigating the draft board with trades in 2012. Originally scheduled to pick No. 12 overall, Seattle traded back three spots with Philadelphia, acquiring an additional fourth and sixth-round pick in exchange that eventually turned into defensive tackle Jaye Howard and cornerback Jeremy Lane.
Surprising many, Schneider chose athletic edge rusher Bruce Irvin far higher than most draft pundits projected with pick No. 15. The young executive was railed for the selection at the time, but like the rest of that special 2012 class, he quickly silenced his critics with 8.0 sacks as a rookie.
Over the next three years, Schneider didn't make any first-round selections, starting with the decision to acquire receiver Percy Harvin from the Vikings in 2013. After winning the Super Bowl, he then traded down twice in 2014 to add extra picks and the Seahawks didn't make their first selection until choosing receiver Paul Richardson at pick No. 45.
Not fazed by the failures of the trade for Harvin, who was promptly traded to the Jets for a sixth-round pick midway through the 2014 season, Schneider again rolled the dice with a blockbuster trade in 2015. Dealing away center Max Unger and a first-round pick, the Seahawks acquired All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham.
Since then, Schneider hasn't been as aggressive, at least in regards to trading away first-round picks for a proven star. But he's continued to master the art of trading down, doing so at least once each of the past four years with varying degrees of success.
In 2016, Seattle shipped pick No. 26 to Denver for pick No. 31 and a third-round selection, which turned into tight end Nick Vannett. The Broncos moved up to pick quarterback Paxton Lynch, while the Seahawks still landed offensive line help by selecting tackle Germain Ifedi, who started 60 games in four seasons with the team.
The following year, Schneider looked to pull off a potential heist, trading down twice to move out of the first round completely while acquiring an additional third, fourth, and seventh-round pick. Those new picks turned into safety Lano Hill, safety Tedric Thompson, and running back Chris Carson.
Still not satisfied, Schneider traded down one slot in the second round with the Jaguars to acquire a sixth-round pick before drafting defensive tackle Malik McDowell at No. 35 overall.
Unfortunately, the talented, yet troubled McDowell never played a down for Seattle after suffering undisclosed injuries in an ATV accident weeks before his first training camp. This set the franchise back substantially, as Schneider had to deal a second-round pick to the New York Jets to rent Sheldon Richardson for one season.
In each of the past two years, Schneider has made at least one trade down in the first round. Back in 2018, he sent pick No. 18 to the Packers in exchange for pick No. 27, which was shockingly used on running back Rashaad Penny, along with a third and sixth-round pick.
Last season, starting with two first-round picks as a result of a trade sending defensive end Frank Clark to the Chiefs, Schneider again traded with the Packers, sending pick No. 21 to Green Bay for No. 30 and a pair of fourth-round picks. Later in the round, he sent pick No. 30 to the Giants to drop into the second round at pick No. 37 while adding another fourth and fifth-round pick.
Seattle did stay at pick No. 29 overall, using its other first-round selection on defensive end L.J. Collier. Schneider continued to make trades throughout the weekend, turning five draft picks into 11 new selections, including receiver DK Metcalf.
Set to pick 27th overall this season, history strongly suggests Schneider won't use that native selection. After trading down or out of the round completely eight straight years, even the team's social media accounts anticipate he will do it again.
Once Schneider does make his first selection, whether that happens in the first round or on day two after a trade down, fans should expect the unexpected. And based on past history, especially given current team needs and this year's draft class, look for the player to be an offensive or defensive lineman.