Full Seahawks draft coverage from this weekend:
2016 NFL Draft Recap: Best Moments, Quotes
Day 3: Seattle Adds DT Quinton Jefferson, RB Alex Collins
Seahawks Trade Up In 2nd Round To Take ‘Bama DT Jarran Reed
Seahawks Bolster Offensive Line With First-Round Pick Ifedi
2016 NFL Draft Live Blog: Seahawks Edition
Thanks to the ever-increasing focus on combine results and mock selections, the NFL Draft has become a major event for millions of football fans. For the teams and local media members, however, the event experience is a bit different — and it doesn’t end when the broadcast stops.
Members of the Seattle media gathered at the Seahawks’ headquarters in Renton for three-day coverage of the 2016 NFL Draft. Here’s a peek behind the scenes…
A banner hanging in the rafters shows defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, a Hall of Famer who spent his entire career with Seattle.
A photo from the second-floor shows a Chuck Knox banner hanging in the hallways at VMAC. Knox spent nine years as the head coach of the Seahawks, leading the team to it’s first AFC Division Title (1988).
A peek into the Seahawks’ indoor practice facility.
The wall is lined with the names and signatures of every player from past rosters.
The view of Lake Washington from the players’ cafeteria, nextdoor to the defensive meeting room (where media members watched the draft).
In the defensive meeting room, reporters are assigned seating through several rows of desks facing the draft white board and televisions.
Two local reporters, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times and Stephen Cohen of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, took a few minutes to chat about their experiences covering the NFL Draft.
In years past, the NFL Draft was 17 rounds. That was cut to 12 rounds in 1977, and then to just seven rounds in 1994. By 2010, the NFL Draft had became a three day event — but certain facets have continued to change and evolve.
“They used to let us see a feed where the picks came earlier,” says Condotta, when asked about the rules of covering the draft and things that have changed for 2016. “I don’t think they want anybody doing that anymore — I don’t think it’s just an ‘us’ thing.”
Why the change for this year?
“Yeah, the NFL, they really want the viewer experience. Their feedback, apparently, from viewers was that people want that drama of watching it on TV.”
This year, 6.3 million people tuned in to watch the three-hour broadcast of the first round. Day three (with rounds 4-7) still brought in more than three million viewers.
“It is amazing what an event they’re making it and how they’re going to go on the road, and it’ll probably be in Los Angeles next year since they’ll be back there. And you hear all these towns bidding for it; New Orleans wants it, and that’s becoming this big huge [thing].”
Cohen echoed Condotta on recent changes.
“You saw one of the issues was happening in years before were national reporters getting the picks before,” says Cohen. “And there was a huge debate as to whether or not we would be the person to break it before the actual thing happened. There was even an issue about showing the kids in the green room on the phone, because that would tip off who someone was getting. So that changed.”
(Above: Seattle’s first-round pick is listed on the board after day one: Texas A&M offensive tackle Germain Ifedi).
So, what’s craziest thing they’ve seen when covering the draft?
“The year Johnny Manziel was drafted,” says Cohen. “This was my first year here. The Dallas Cowboys were on the clock and everybody in the room was sort of convinced that he was going to be the selection. It was a palpable buzz. And this was back when we got the picks early, we were tipped early [by] about a minute or two. But everybody was watching it and I think they ended up taking an offensive lineman, like Zach Martin, and the [media] room just kind of exploded because everybody was convinced that Johnny Manziel was going there. So then we had a minute or two to just wait for the reaction. We were just all watching Twitter and watching the TV, and in the end everybody went crazy.”
This year, a video of Mississippi linebacker Laremy Tunsil smoking out of a bong was posted to the top prospect’s Twitter account shortly before the draft. Projected in most mock drafts in the top five picks, Tunsil slid down the board before eventually being selected by the Miami Dolphins with the 13th-overall pick. For both Cohen and Condotta, it was the wildest thing to happen this year.
“[It’s] so bizarre,” said Cohen. “It’s such an issue of our time right now. Like, it’s Instagram and Twitter stuff. It’s so — it just fits right now. It’s something that ten years ago, they’d have no concept of what would be happening to a kid falling on draft day because of a Twitter video.”
“Obviously the Laremy Tunsil thing was so unique,” said Condotta. “And just locally, you know, Myles Jack, obviously. I was kind of watching that, seeing him stumble a little bit. Everybody locally has followed his story a lot and it was obviously kind of disheartening to see that happen to him.” (Jack, a graduate of Bellevue High School in Washington state, was ultimately selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second round at no. 36).
(Round one is over, but it’s a much longer night for everyone at Seahawks’ headquarters. That clock on the wall reads 10:17 p.m.)
Reporters have a chance to interview players over Skype or a teleconference after the picks. Thursday, reporters spoke to new Seahawks draftee Ifedi, as well as offensive line coach Tom Cable, GM John Schneider, and head coach Pete Carroll. Day two was much more hectic: with four selections, there are four conference calls and several additional interviews with scouts (as well as an end-of-day interview with Schneider and Carroll).
The room chats with defensive tackle Jarran Reed a few minutes after he’s drafted in the second round by Seattle. Reed says he had a feeling Seattle would pick him: “This whole time I had a certain feeling. I thought it was going to happen yesterday with the last pick, but I knew today. Actually right before it happened I told my mom, I said, ‘Mom, I’m going to the Seahawks.’ I’ve been talking about the Seahawks ever since the Senior Bowl. I’m just really happy and excited that it actually happened, and my dream came true to play on this defense.”
A joke from newly-drafted wide receiver Kenny Lawler draws laughs from reporters. Over the phone, Lawler still sounds shocked about being selected.
Director of College Scouting Matt Berry discusses Germain Ifedi: “We just want big athletes. Length and size, it’s ideal. You can’t find them looking any better than he does.”
(GM John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll fielding questions after round seven.)
Does sitting and waiting to see what select moves the Seahawks make over the course of three long days ever get boring?
“I don’t ever find it boring,” says Condotta. “I think it’s fascinating to see how, you know — you hear for months where all these guys might go and what teams are looking for them, and to actually see it play out, it never plays out as everybody expects. There’s always some drama. I was always one of those guys who always watched it, when they first put it on TV in the 80s, I was one of those guys who would spend a nice spring Saturday watching the NFL Draft.”
“No, the food’s pretty good,” jokes Cohen. “I don’t know, I just like, I’m kind of a geek about the draft. It’s one of the things I always freak out about. I’m just– I’m happy.”