Seahawks got two first-round picks in the NFL draft

 Seahawks got two first-round picks in the NFL draft
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Texas A&M offensive lineman Germain Ifedi (74) waits to sing a school song before an NCAA college football game against Nevada Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)


I’ll start this by acknowledging that comments made by team execs after the NFL draft are sometimes best taken with at least a little grain of salt.
Much like college coaches on letter-of-intent signing day, everybody says they got everybody they wanted where they wanted them (though I guess this year, with the exception of Dallas).
That said, if we take the Seahawks at their word on how the first two rounds unfolded, then they also have to get some credit for making the right decision with their first-round pick, allowing them to also get the player they wanted with their second-rounder.
Recall that after acquiring an extra third-rounder from Denver to move down from 26 to 31, the Seahawks say their choice was to take either Texas A&M offensive lineman Germain Ifedi or Alabama defensive tackle Jarran Reed.
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“Quite honestly, it was between those two players,’’ Seattle general manager John Schneider said later.
As we now know, they ultimately got both, taking Ifedi at 31 and then making a trade with the Bears to give up a fourth-rounder to move up from 56 to 49 to draft Reed, a player they valued heavily as a likely replacement for the departed Brandon Mebane.
Schneider has said since then that the decision to take Ifedi first came down in part to need, that with all things being basically equal they sided with offense.
But the Seahawks might also have correctly read the way the draft was trending.
A big theme of pre-draft coverage was the strength and depth of the defensive line class, and especially the tackles.
That proved true if you consider that 20 defensive tackles were selected overall — six more than a year ago; and nine in the first two rounds, two more than in the last two years combined.
But even that didn’t quite match expectations of many mock drafts.
Here’s a compilation of mocks from from March that showed six defensive tackles going in the first round — and all by pick No. 28 — including Reed at No. 21.
Ultimately, though, just four went in the first round. Reed was one of three tackles listed there — along with Alabama’s A’Shawn Robinson and Baylor’s Andrew Billings — to fall out of the first round. Reed and Robinson (46 to Detroit) went in the second and Billings dropped all the way to the fourth (UCLA DT Kenny Clark, not in the consensus of mocks to go in the first round was taken in the first at 27 by Green Bay).
What happened?
All three appeared to fall victim in part to a general feeling that tackles who are primarily run-stuffers are becoming less valuable as teams continues to pass more, meaning defenses are countering more by taking those tackles off the field to insert additional defensive backs.
That was a conclusion shared this week by ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay, who noted NFL teams are averaging playing “sub packages’’ about 65 percent of the time, with some close to 70 percent.
What that means, McShay said, is that some teams are now deducing that a run-down tackle such as Reed could be on the field for just first down and then commonly replaced.
“So (as a team) I’m not going to spend a first-round pick on a player who may only be on the field for one out of every three downs,’’ McShay said. “So that’s the issue.’’
So maybe the Seahawks just got lucky in taking Ifedi and then having Reed fall — Carroll and Schneider each said later they were surprised he dropped as far as he did.
But maybe they also saw it coming that run-down tackles like Reed might last deeper into the draft than had been anticipated.
Certainly, they appeared to jump quickly once it got to the point of the draft where it appeared Reed was likely to be taken.
About the same time Robinson went at 46 to Detroit the Seahawks pulled off the trade to move up and get Reed at 49 (and it’s tempting to wonder if they did that thinking that either Atlanta and former Seahawks DC Dan Quinn at 52, or Washington and former Seahawks personnel guy Scot McCloughan at 53 might grab Reed instead).
Said McShay: “I think Seattle got one of the steals of the draft.’’
As McShay notes, on a deep Alabama defense Reed was pretty much a situational tackle, used on run downs, with just three sacks in 2015.
“He is an underrated player who was not on the field in a lot of obvious pass situations,’’ McShay said. “So I’m not saying he was a great pass rusher but he is more disruptive than the statistics would indicate. And when I watched him on tape, he was the most consistent interior defensive lineman that they had.
“I think really, simply he is the best run-stuffing and run-defending interior defensive lineman in this class and I think he fell to 49 in the second round because he may not, if you don’t develop him as a pass rusher, he may just be a one-down player and I think that was a theme throughout this entire draft.’’
Schneider and Carroll, though, each said they think Reed can evolve into an effective pass rusher.
The Seahawks also have had their tackles on the field more in recent years than some teams — Mebane played 49.1 percent of snaps last season and Ahtyba Rubin 47.4 — meaning they might have seen more value in a player like Reed than others.
Schneider said later that Ifedi and Reed were two of the 26 players to whom they considered worth first-round picks.
Through a combination of circumstance and their own aggressive decisions, the Seahawks got both.
Now to wait a few years to see if they were worth the grade.

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