INDIANAPOLIS - New Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider will do their best to show a united front as the team's scouting and coaching staffs descend on Indianapolis for the league's annual scouting combine, which begins today.
The Seahawks have watched enough tape on the roughly 330 players invited to this event to put an initial draft board together, so there should be few surprises for Carroll and Co.
More than anything, this week’s combine serves as a chance to further confirm what film study at the team’s Renton headquarters has already revealed, along with an opportunity to make a good first impression on potential players and the rest of the league in terms of how this revamped front office will do business.
“These interviews are going to be important with how Carroll, Schneider and the rest of the scouting staff see these players,” said Rob Rang, senior draft analyst for NFLDraftScout.com. “How players respond to the questions those guys have and just making sure that the entire Seahawks staff is on the same page so to speak when they’re talking to these players will be more significant than how fast a guy runs the 40 (yard dash) or things like that.”
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One advantage Carroll appears to have is his recent tenure as a successful head coach at the University of Southern California. Carroll enjoys a familiarity with many of the players at the combine, unlike any other NFL head coach, because of his time spent recruiting nationally for the Trojans. In fact, 11 of his former players at USC will be competing at the combine this week.
“I think I benefitted tremendously in the process of college football of evaluating young players and having to project players into their future,” Carroll said during his introductory comments in Seattle when the team first hired him in January.
“Having the vision to see where they are going and what they could become is something that more keenly attuned me to the whole process of evaluating and analysis of personnel and is something that I’m really exited to bring to our organization.”
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock agreed.
“What he has is a head start over most of the other head coaches in the NFL,” Mayock said.
“He comes out of the college ranks and he knows his team, and he knows the Pac-10 intimately. Most of the head coaches around the league don’t get involved in the draft until the season is over, and then they get brought up to speed by their GMs. So yeah, I think his knowledge of past draft picks and how well or how poorly they did in the draft and this year’s class will help.”
The Seahawks have three of the first 40 picks in the draft, including the No. 6 and No. 14 overall picks. Seattle has several needs to address, including finding a left tackle to replace an aging Walter Jones, who has repeatedly hinted at retirement; a speedy edge rusher to help bolster the team’s inconsistent pass rush; and an explosive playmaker to help create big plays on offense and special teams.
However, the most important decision for Carroll and Schneider will be to determine what to do with 34-year-old quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who will be in the final year of his contract.
Carroll and Schneider have said they believe Hasselbeck can still play at a high level and is in the team’s future plans, but with franchise-caliber quarterbacks in Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford and Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen available in the first round, the Seahawks have to at least consider selecting a quarterback early in the draft to groom as Hasselbeck’s eventual replacement.
“That’s the first decision those two guys have to make with the door closed,” Mayock said.
Hawks tag Mare
The Seahawks announced that they have placed the team’s franchise tag on kicker Olindo Mare in anticipation of today’s deadline to use the tag.
According to this year’s franchise tag amount for kickers, Mare was tendered a one-year contract worth $2.814 million. The two sides can negote a longer-term deal.
The franchise tag dictates that Seattle pay Mare a minimum of the average salary of the five highest-paid kickers in the NFL or a 20 percent salary increase, whichever is greater.
Mare earned $1.5 million in 2009, the final season of a two-year deal.
Seattle used the franchise tag on Mare because the price would have been too much to tag other unrestricted free agents such as wide receiver Nate Burleson ($9.521 million) or defensive end Cory Redding ($12.398 million).
The last time the Seahawks used a franchise tag on a kicker was 2007, when the team used the tag to lock up kicker Josh Brown. Brown left for the St. Louis Rams in free agency in 2008.
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