Seahawks enter NFL draft with scarcity of selections

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Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) scores a touchdown in front of Dallas Cowboys safety Jeff Heath (38) and defensive end Demarcus Lawrence (90) during the third quarter in an NFL Wild Card playoff game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. The Cowboys advanced, 24-22. (Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Forgive Seattle general manager John Schneider for being a bit antsy going into this NFL draft. In fact, the Seahawks boss may be downright annoyed at having just four picks.

Seattle’s four selections entering the draft — picks in the first, third, fourth and fifth rounds — are on track to be the fewest the Seahawks have ever made, behind making five picks in 1994 and 1997. The Seahawks’ first selection is set to be at No. 21 in the first round, but no one expects them to stay there. It’s not Schneider’s style, and especially in a year when moving back once, twice, maybe even three times could land Seattle the second- and third-day picks it truly covets.

But for now, it’s just four spots Schneider has to fill. For all the jokes he may tell about wanting to put a sticker up saying “Duane Brown” when the second round comes around and there’s no pick for Seattle to make, the lack of picks entering the draft is unlike anything Schneider and his staff have faced in their tenure.

Seattle has never made fewer than eight selections during Schneider’s regime.

Seattle lost its second-round pick when it acquired Brown from Houston during the 2017 season. Its sixth-round pick was sent to Green Bay last summer for backup quarterback Brett Hundley, and its seventh-round pick was traded to Oakland for safety Shalom Luani.

What makes it more troubling for Seattle to swallow is the apparent success of last year’s draft. Seattle found itself starters in cornerback Tre Flowers, punter Michael Dickson and tight end Will Dissly, and saw flashes of potential from running back Rashaad Penny and pass rusher Jacob Martin.

As it stands now, the Seahawks don’t have the depth of picks to miss on any of their selections.

Here are other things to watch about the Seahawks draft:

TRADING PLACES

The Seahawks have made a billion draft trades during Schneider’s tenure. That’s an exaggeration, but Seattle is typically one of the more active teams during the draft trying to acquire more picks in specific segments.

They may be even more active this year because of the lack of picks. That No. 21 selection in the first round very likely could become a spot later in the round or more likely early in the second so Seattle can land more mid-round selections. Seattle hasn’t chosen in its original first-round position since 2011, when it selected offensive lineman James Carpenter.

In each of the past three years Seattle has made three trades during the draft to either grab more picks or move up in later rounds.

VETERAN INFLUENCE

One of Seattle’s big questions is contract situations. The Seahawks got one potential headache solved when they signed quarterback Russell Wilson to a four-year extension that makes him the highest-paid player in the NFL. But that doesn’t solve all the lingering issues. Defensive end Frank Clark is set to play under the franchise tag and could be a potential trade option to acquire more picks. All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner’s current deal expires after the upcoming season, and defensive tackle Jarran Reed is also in line for a new deal.

Seattle would like to secure the long-term future of Clark, Wagner and Reed. But if it might not be possible, Seattle could focus its limited picks on future replacements.

POSITIONS OF NEED

Look for defensive line and wide receiver to be high on the priority list. No matter what happens with Clark, Seattle needs to find another pass rusher. Clark had a team-high 13 sacks, Reed had 10½, but no other Seattle player had more than three last season. At wide receiver, Tyler Lockett had a breakout year, but Doug Baldwin is coming off an injury-filled season that required multiple offseason surgeries and will turn 31 early in the regular season. Both positions could use a boost. Wideouts DK Metcalf of Mississippi and Marquis Brown of Oklahoma State could be of interest.

NEXT SURPRISE

Seattle pulled a shock last year when it selected a running back — Penny — in the first round when it appeared there were needs elsewhere. The Seahawks managed to fill those concerns at other points of the draft, but with the dearth of picks this year there would seem to be a renewed focus on specific needs.

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