When it began, John Schneider and Pete Carroll were uncharacteristically tense. Schneider’s head was down as he read from a statement hand-written onto a notepad — for the only time anyone could remember.
“Our organization has an in-depth understanding of Frank Clark’s situation and background — we have done a ton of research on this young man …,” Schneider began Friday night, his tone solemn while discussing the start of their sixth draft leading the Seahawks.
When it ended, Seattle’s general manager and their coach were back to their usual, breezy personas. Each completed the other’s sentences, like a long-married couple. They glowed over drafting eight new players to fill holes, and on agreeing to contract terms with 12 undrafted free agents — including an ex-Army Green Beret war veteran.
“It was an awesome job ... terrific draft. So we’re really fired up about it,” Carroll said Saturday.
Unless it’s just after drafting a pass rusher that had been kicked off his team at Michigan in November following a jailing for domestic violence.
For two days that were mostly sitting and waiting, the Seahawks sure put their rabid, fawning fan base to a test of faith at the start of their draft by drafting Clark when they didn’t have to.
They put those same people at ease by the end of the draft. They drafted three offensive linemen in rounds four and six who will immediately go into the guard and center places Seattle needs to fill. They got cornerback Tye Smith and safety Ryan Murphy, who give needed depth in the secondary, plus the raw pass rusher the Seahawks can never have enough of, Obum Gwacham.
On Sunday, the Seahawks were back to their veterans, deciding whether to pick up the fifth-year contract option for Bruce Irvin for $7.8 million in 2016. There was no official word Sunday night of the decision that Carroll said the day before may have gone down to the league deadline. But indications are the Seahawks are not — in hopes of perhaps signing their pass rusher to a multi-year deal at a lower annual salary later on.
“If we pick up Bruce’s option it’s a great thing. If we don’t pick up Bruce’s option it only means we aren’t picking it up,” Carroll said Saturday. “We want him here for a long time.”
Saturday restored that usual competitive, trust-us franchise vibe. Carroll declared third-round draft choice Tyler Lockett from Kansas State will be the front-runner for the punt- and kickoff-return jobs at which Seattle was more than substandard last season.
The coach said Terry Poole from San Diego State gets an immediate look starting at Friday’s rookie minicamp at left guard, where James Carpenter had started for a few years until he signed in March with the New York Jets. Carroll said fellow fourth-round pick Mark Glowinski from West Virginia will get preseason time at right guard behind J.R. Sweezy.
“(Saturday) we could see the emphasis up front. We needed to hit a couple guys,” Carroll said. “To get Terry and Mark Glowinski, those guys were really prime guys.”
Sixth-round choice Kristjan Sokoli was a defensive tackle at Buffalo, but last week Seahawks offensive-line coach Tom Cable worked him out to be a center. Cable was encouraged enough to not only draft him but put him at center in Friday’s rookie minicamp. Max Unger had played there for a half-dozen years until his trade to New Orleans for tight end Jimmy Graham — the guy whom the Seahawks kept reminding all weekend was essentially their traded first-round pick.
“(It’s) to see if we could do this transition with him like the success with Sweezy a while back, and (Cable) just fell in love with the kid,” Carroll said of Sokoli. “And for us to nail it like that gives us three solid guys coming in to really compete and make this (offensive-line) group a really competitive group.”
Ah, talking of competing again. The way it always is around Carroll, Schneider and the Seahawks.
Well, except for Friday’s solemn start to this draft.
“We’ve had to adapt,” Carroll said of his five years with Schneider setting the Seahawks’ course through acquiring personnel. “It’s kind of a natural progression of acquiring really good players and maintaining the core of our team to fit that all together.
“We keep working on this and it continues to challenge us, which is why we have those difficult decisions ... John has done an amazing job of keeping this going. We have the core together and ready to come back again and put together a great camp to get started again.”