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May 6, 2014 at 4:25 PM

What they said: Carroll and Schneider

Here is some of what coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider had to say today when they met with the media to preview this week’s draft:

Schneider on how different was this process with having two extra weeks: “We just planned accordingly. We were able to get people out a little bit more than usual. We had a little bit more of a break in there, a spring break so guys could spend a little bit more time with their families, but in terms with preparation for the draft, the organization of it has been the same. Just the amount of hours were increased a little bit I would say.”

Schneider on if having the draft later changes anything on the back end: “I don’t think so. I just think that there is so much scrutiny and that there is so much concentration on that first round. I actually thought, just from a media coverage standpoint that we’d see more. I was concerned about that because we are at5 the back. I thought we would see more coverage of second, third, and fourth round players and there hasn’t been so we’ve been able to keep players under the radar.”

Schneider on if he’s worried about having fewer picks than other teams in the NFC West:  “Well I wish St. Louis didn’t have the second pick if that’s what you’re asking. That’s kind of a bummer for us. I think we do a great job of throughout the draft of trying to acquire picks and making those decisions along the way. Whether or not you want to just sit and pick or if we’re going to move back and try to acquire more picks. I think we have a track record where I tried to acquire as many picks as we possibly can. At the top of the draft you’re excited about the players and everything, but then the further you get into the draft you wish you had more picks toward the end because there are quality players there that you know the coaching staff could work with and coach up. So you always want as many picks that you can.”

Schneider on how important is it for him to get with the coaching staff and find the one thing that the guy does well: “Absolutely because you’re focusing on one or two, hopefully three redeeming qualities that Pete and his staff are excited about working with. You’re not going to take a guy that they’re not excited about working with.”

Carroll on what are the ways they go about getting to know a player: “Just the normal ways. You ask the people from the program where they come from interview the kid to and get as many looks at him as you can. We try to evaluate it through the play so we use all of the regular variables to try to figure that out. It’s just increasingly important to us to find the competitiveness in the kids and knowing that sometimes that drives guys well beyond just the speed and the height and the weight and all of that kind of stuff so it’s been really important to us. Our program is made up of a bunch of guys that are really gritty football players and we’ve got 11 rookie free agents that were on our team last year at the Super Bowl. We found a lot of guys that maybe didn’t make it up the charts of the draft, but had this extraordinary talent within them that drove them past what the numbers showed. They’ve come through and have become really good football players. That continues to be a big focus for us, and we just try to keep growing with our understanding on how to evaluate that and how to see that in players and recognize that with great intent.”

Schneider on Seattle not having success finding defensive linemen as well as they have finding other positions: “I think that the quality of defensive linemen throughout the country, it’s one of the hardest positions to find. So what you end up doing is pushing guys up and maybe drafting them a little bit higher than you may want to. That’s the way I view it…”

Carroll on the defensive line question: “The bigger, faster guys are harder to find so you just have to take shots, historically that’s how it’s been for all teams. That’s where some of the biggest mistakes are because you’re over trying because there are so few, they are so rare.”

Carroll on if his perspective from the draft changed at all during his time at USC: “My perspective changed when I was in charge of personnel as well as the football team. My viewpoint did change. I found a dedication to the younger guys, which was really crucial to us, and to play guys early when you get them, and we carried that over and John and I talked about that when we first got together. He was surprised that I was so committed to young guys, which the personnel guys always want to see those guys on the field and see where they fit in all. There are a lot of teams that just don’t utilize that philosophy to put them out there because they’re afraid that they’re going to make mistakes and they’re not ready and all of that. We kind of force fed our guys with a plan. That really did shift when I w as in charge at USC because I had never sat in that seat before. I had been the coach and the coaches have always gone with the security and the guys that you can count on and stuff like that. I think it’s a better way to go, to put those guys out there. I think you need a plan too. Our plan has always been to put the guys in the situations where they can show that they can be successful by asking them to do things that they are pretty good at already and not trying to force them to do everything that is asked of the position, and we have a restriction on that so that they will be successful. When they are early then you can build on that and we see a lot of guys by the time we get to mid-year they’re playing regularly for us and we’ve strengthened our roster by doing that and that’s something we’re pretty sold on.”

Carroll how has that changed since their roster is so deep that they are not having to rely on younger guys quite as much as maybe they did a couple of years ago: “It’s just all competition there. It just goes back to competition and if guys can earn their shot, then they get them. We’re such a young team that we don’t have a big disparity of the older guys verses the younger guys. They’re just a little bit older is what it amounts to. We’re still playing young guys in essence so it hasn’t changed philosophically, it’s just competitively those guys can hold their spots better and they keep those guys off of the field, but we still want to push those guys in. we have spent a tremendous effort in seeing our guys when they get to camp. We have some numbers too that support the fact that we play our rookies more in preseason than other teams do that’s because we need to see those guys so we force them out there and want to get the evaluations and give them a great shot to show what they can do, to show us and other teams as well. So this has been a good place for free agents to come because of that.”

Schneider on if they are looking for players in this draft to play down the road because of the depth on the current roster: “Sure to a certain extent because we are looking at our team, but I think that, to piggyback on what Pete was just saying not to veer away from that too quickly, but that’s the refreshing part about having a coaching staff that is willing to teach and play with young players. So since we’ve got here in 2010 we lead the league in rookie free agents in playing time. That’s a tribute to bringing guys in and having open competition where they are not looking at names on the back. It’s just like who are the best players and we’re going to accentuate their strengths and we’re going to play them. I think it’s something where you find that depth and you have to compare players on that board and figure out whether or not they’re going to come in and be able to compete. I think Christine Michael was a great example last year. He was a darn good player, he was the best player available and he came into a pretty tough situation and the other two guys fought him off.”

Carroll on how does he view last year’s draft class now: “We’re excited about those guys. To have a year to get some of the guys prepared due to injuries or whatever the case was. Those guys are indoctrinated in the system, they’re ready to go, they have had a great offseason with real good direction so now we see them as almost new additions again coming in. It makes it really exciting going back to camp and just getting them on the field for the first time. We see guys like Korey Toomer running around and taking off, Benson Mayowa and those guys look really sharp out there. They’re more fit, they’re bigger and stronger than they’ve been and they know what they’re doing more so they bring a real exciting element. It looks really good; we’re excited about those guys.”

Schneider on if they ever had this situation in Green Bay where they were overloading the roster with talent: “Yeah I think you find that everywhere. You’re just trying to acquire as many good players as you possibly can and then you’re just building up specific positions. What happens to your board then is you just have strengths and weaknesses throughout based on what you have in the building…”

Carroll on Schneider’s vision when he arrived: “John shared his vision when we first go together about constructing the roster and what would happen and what we would hopefully see in years three, four, and five and it’s happened. We would have a really young team, we would fight like crazy to make the depth chart as competitive as we possibly could with the young guys that would continue to bolster, and also people would be interested in our players too because of the way we would go about it. All of that has come true and I think it’s a real strength. We have to continue to fight to recreate that each year, and this opportunity with the draft and free agency coming up there’s great chances for us to hit it again and we’re going for it with the same thoughts philosophically, but with the same idea that we’re going find guys that can compete. If they can start and play, great, but we just want to just keep getting better and that forces everybody on the roster to have to improve and that’s really the whole approach that we have come with four years ago.”

Carroll on if there is a key to their approach on the guys that don’t get drafted: “I think one is that John spends so much time with his guys deep into the draft and so our knowledge of the players that are available, whether they are able to get drafted or not is still really important to us. I can only gauge it on where we are, but that’s a huge emphasis for us. to know that those guys all the way through the depths not just being concerned on the top three or four rounds, that’s one, and we are committed to playing them s we find out on whether they can play or not, and we’ve proven that by playing more guys, and having almost a dozen guys playing in the Super Bowl that are free agents. I think all of that together is a big commitment from us in regards to the young guys.”

Carroll on what is his pitch to the undrafted free agents when he gets on the phone with them: “We’re telling them that this program is built on competition and we’re committed to giving guys the chance to show it. So if they come to us they’re going to get to play. We’ve proven that our guys play more than anybody else in the NFL in preseason so that’s one fact for us. Also the commitment that we’ve had is real, and that we have had more rookie free agents playing for us than any other team so we tell them just really the facts that we’re trying to hammer out in this press conference right here are the ones that we want to get out, and that we really do believe that young guys can make it, and also that we do have an approach. We believe that we can find the special qualities that guys have based on the way that we go about it. We’re not trying to just throw a guy into the wolves and see if they can make it, but we’re going to give a chance to do what they do well, show us where they fit, and then we’ll build on their strengths. That’s been a long commitment that we’ve had that we know that that works and we know how that helps a young guy fit in. It also helps us win, and it helps us as we continue down the schedule to be stronger near the end of the season and we play very well at the end of the season. I think one of the big factors is because of that commitment. We’re totally committed to this and everybody understands as we get the word out, and hopefully the kids will understand that as they come to make their decisions.”

Schneider on the gap of talent between second and third round guys and sixth and seventh round guys: “I think it’s probably smaller than people would think.” Carroll: “We’ve seen so many of our guys, fifth and sixth round kids that have come through and started for us early. So it ties that space together. It’s a hard science to deal with and so it’s so close and factors that maybe you couldn’t quite uncover show up in those guys play just as good as a guy drafted in the first round.” Schneider: “It’s a really good question. Your grading scale should carry that out for you. I think I talked about this before where you see certain gaps, that’s where you see the biggest difference is where you have two to three rounds where you don’t have players in there so you just make holes. What you’re asking is by round do you see big differences? Not necessarily. The only time you really see it is where you have two to three rounds where you have a big gap and you’re like there is a big difference in these two players.”

Schneider on if they have had a chance to evaluate Michael Sam: “Yeah he’s a heck of a pass rusher, but like any other player we’re not going to give up where we have him graded.”

Carroll on what kind of locker room does Michael Sam need to go to on draft day: “I don’t know that there is any locker room that anybody has to go to. He’s a tremendous football player, he’s going to be a big contributor, and he’d fit in our locker room and be a terrific addition if we could be so fortunate to get him on our team. He’s a great player.”

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