Subterfuge becoming Seahawks specialty at NFL draft time

May 13, 2014 

Arizona Cardinals first-round draft pick Deone Bucannon, second from left, a hard-hitting safety from Washington State, poses with, from left, head coach Bruce Arians, general manager Steve Keims and president Michael Bidwill at a press conference in Tempe, Ariz., after the ex-Cougar was drafted 27th overall Thursday.

ROB SCHUMACHER/THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC

I checked the Seattle Seahawks media guide to see if any of their scouting or personnel people were in charge of “counterespionage” but found no listing.

Of course, you’d want to keep that sort of thing quiet.

The Hawks have been pretty good at going into stealth mode in recent drafts, but they seem to be making it a higher priority now that their quick ascension and Lombardi Trophy have caused so many other teams to try to scope out their methods.

In 2013, 23 players cut by the Seahawks made it onto the active rosters of other NFL teams.

In essence, teams want the Seahawks to show them the way.

Seattle has already identified the talents, brought them in, taught them the culture, and then didn’t have room to keep them. Twenty-three times, other clubs looked to cash in.

So it is with the draft. If other clubs see the Seahawks spending time or showing specific interest in a player, the word is out: This guy must have something to offer, we better take another look at him.

General manager John Schneider, now, is mastering the misdirection.

Most of the players drafted last weekend were surprised to be called by the Seahawks because Seattle hadn’t shown much interest during the process.

The Seahawks’ first pick, Colorado receiver Paul Richardson, for instance, said he had met with no one from the team other than the team psychologist, and that was not at the Renton headquarters.

Alabama receiver Kevin Norwood was a player the Seahawks specifically targeted and were surprised he was still available to them in the fourth round.

Kevin, did you have much contact with the Seahawks prior to the draft?

“No, I think I talked to them one time, and that was for them to get my information.”

One might next suspect them to show interest in subpar players in hope that others, say NFC West foes, might be lured into taking bad picks.

That didn’t happen this season, though, as the NFC West came up big in the draft.

San Francisco had 12 picks, including Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde, a bruiser who might be groomed as Frank Gore’s eventual replacement.

The Rams bolstered both lines with first-round talents — Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson and Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

Donald’s addition to a defense that sacked Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson 11 times last season is a bit fearsome. Coach Jeff Fisher’s defensive front-four now boasts four first-round picks: Robert Quinn, Chris Long, Donald and Michael Brockers.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, landed Washington State’s big-hitting safety Deone Bucannon to fill out a secondary that already has Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu and Antonio Cromartie.

When considering the Seahawks’ 2014 draft, it’s probably fair to toss in quarterback Terrelle Pryor, whom they picked up in a trade with Oakland for a seventh-round pick.

The former Ohio State star got a limited run with the Raiders and was replaced because of unconvincing performance. Still, he’s 6-foot-4, 233 pounds and runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash. Doubtful there was a better rookie athlete available in the seventh round than what the Hawks got in Pryor.

Also, the 2014 draft class might have to wait in line to see action because about half of the 2013 rookie class saw limited time and was, basically, redshirted last season.

Players such as running back Christine Michael, defensive tackle Jordan Hill and cornerback Tharold Simon have had the chance to be with the team for a year and learned the system and expectations.

The Seahawks have had success with players who had to sit and pay dues on special teams before getting their chance and making it big. Malcolm Smith, Byron Maxwell and Jermaine Kearse, for example, were given time to ripen into their jobs and had huge games in the Super Bowl.

Because of the depth gained through smart drafting, the Seahawks can now afford to allow promising prospects to serve apprenticeships.

Apparently, it’s what other teams are seeking to emulate, and why the Seahawks have to be so sneaky this time of year.

Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 dave.boling@ thenewstribune.com @DaveBoling

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