We’re now less than three weeks from what could be the craziest NFL Draft in league history. For the teams themselves, potentially a logistical nightmare beyond anyone’s imagination.
Which gives the Seahawks one key advantage.
But first, some context: Most teams would prefer the draft to be postponed. Two weeks ago, a subcommittee of general managers recommended postponement, citing a number of reasons: Pro days have been cancelled. Teams can’t meet with players in person. There’s not enough time for player physicals or psychological testing.
COVID-19 has basically cancelled a lot of the important work done between the combine and the draft. And it’s also forcing teams to prepare to conduct the draft from home – away from team facilities.
In fact, according to ESPN, if just one team isn’t allowed to draft from its facilities due to a “stay at home” mandate by their state, then no one will be allowed to do it. And even though the league has previously said groups of 10 or fewer people can convene in a single room as long as they’re at least six feet apart, who knows if that will still be allowed by draft day.
All of this is a formula for potential chaos behind the scenes. What if someone’s internet crashes when a team is on the clock? What if a teleconference doesn’t connect properly?
Safe to say: While fluid and not finalized, this is an unprecedented situation.
And despite the anxiety and toll I’m sure it’s taking on John Schneider and his scouting staff, it’s still a reason why I have a ton of confidence in the Seahawks – and it’s a reason entirely different from their proximity to Microsoft and other technological hubs that will hopefully make sure connectivity on draft day will not be an issue.
Pete Carroll always talks about opportunity. He’s always embraced major challenges. He’s never griped about bad conditions or tough scheduling. And that optimism, combined with a little creativity, has usually paid off.
If everyone has to play by the same rules – like drafting from home, away from the rest of their respective staffs – expect the Seahawks to strive to do it, in Carroll’s words, better than its ever been done before. Expect that attitude to extend from the top down, bringing a sense of calm and confidence come draft weekend.
One reason legendary golfer Tom Watson won five British Opens is because he embraced bad conditions. Half the field would be eliminated before tournaments even began, simply because they mentally couldn’t handle bad weather.
That’s the kind of advantage I expect the Carroll, Schneider and the Seahawks to have with the draft.
Finally, think back to 2011 when the NFL lockout extended into late July, cancelling OTAs, mini-camps and everything designed to help rookies transition to their new teams. It still worked out for drafted rookies like K.J. Wright Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell. It was also the year Schneider wrote a letter to Doug Baldwin, convincing the undrafted rookie free agent to compete for a job in Seattle.
The way this year shakes out could be very similar.
And while right now, teams including the Seahawks are likely scrambling, no one knows exactly how Draft Weekend will play out. But there’s no front office I’d trust more to embrace these new challenges, and be in the best position to succeed in less than three weeks.