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Seattle holds 12th pick, but looks for late value

RENTON, Wash. (AP) - John Schneider takes pride in finding value in the later rounds of the NFL draft. And why not, after the players Seattle's general manager has been able to snag in his first two drafts in charge of the Seahawks.

Whether it was finding safety Kam Chancellor, cornerback Richard Sherman or linebacker K.J. Wright, to name a few, the later rounds have been very productive for the Seahawks since Schneider and coach Pete Carroll took over in Seattle.

"We're a group that takes a lot of pride from the fourth round down," Schneider said. "We think there's a lot of really neat things that can happen in there. ... So it's identifying some of those unique qualities and having the faith that the coaching staff's going to give the guy a shot."

The Seahawks own only three picks from the fourth round on heading into this week's draft. That's heightened speculation that the Seahawks might be willing to move out the No. 12 spot in the first round if it can lead to additional picks later on.

Seattle lost its fifth-round pick when it brought running back Marshawn Lynch to Seattle in 2010 and dealt away a seventh-round selection that season in a trade for offensive lineman Tyler Polumbus. The Seahawks regained a seventh-round selection when they traded Aaron Curry to Oakland last season.

While it would seem to make sense for a team without major holes to possibly move back in the first round and gather more selections, Schneider also sees the Seahawks' spot as a break in the draft board after which the talent begins to drop off. That makes it an enviable position for the Seahawks to be in: either they stay put and draft what they consider top-tier talent, or they broker a deal with a team trying to move up.

"Eleven, 12, 13 is a little bit of a ledge there. There's a little bit of a difference of players," Schneider said. "So if we want to stay and pick, I think it's a really cool place to pick. If somebody does something that's really attractive, then we feel comfortable with the way we've prepared that we could go back, too. We feel like we've covered some things where we can go ahead and take the good players that come to us."

It's been an offseason of successes so far for the Seahawks, from re-signing Lynch and defensive end Red Bryant, to landing free agent QB Matt Flynn, to the buzz created by their redesigned uniforms. Now comes addressing the few glaring needs for one of the youngest teams in the league.

If the Seahawks remain at No. 12, their likely areas to address would be linebacker and a pass-rushing defensive end. Chris Clemons was Seattle's lone pass rusher with success this past season and Seattle would like to add a complement. That would lead Seattle to look at North Carolina's Quinton Coples, South Carolina's Melvin Ingram or USC's Nick Perry with its first selection.

But linebacker is equally of concern after starting middle linebacker David Hawthorne signed with New Orleans. Seattle agreed to a one-year deal with veteran Barrett Ruud, but Carroll said Ruud is still recovering from an assortment of injuries. If he's there, Boston College insider linebacker Luke Kuechly might be Seattle's option.

Then there are wild cards, like Stanford guard David DeCastro, a Seattle-area native. Or a quarterback might be the option if Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill were to slide, even though Seattle signed Flynn to a three-year deal.

"They're such a rare commodity that we have to do everything we can to entertain the thought that if any one of those guys comes to us, what would we do?" Carroll said of the quarterback options.

But as Schneider has shown in his first two years, it's what Seattle does in the later rounds that's decided how successful the draft was.

He got left tackle Russell Okung and safety Earl Thomas in the first-round of the draft in 2010, but also snagged Chancellor in the fifth round and let Chancellor sit for a season behind veteran Lawyer Milloy before he developed into a Pro Bowl safety in his second season.

Last year, the Seahawks snagged Wright in the fourth round out of Mississippi State and Sherman in the fifth round. Wright and Sherman became starters during their rookie seasons and will hold those same spots going into 2012.

Schneider's first two picks in 2011 were about addressing the offensive line but questions remain. James Carpenter struggled with his weight early in the season playing right tackle, then was lost in November to a torn knee ligament and won't be ready by the start of training camp. Guard John Moffitt also struggled at times during his rookie season, which was shortened by a knee injury. Moffitt is expected to be available for all offseason conditioning programs and training camp.

Now comes Schneider's third time in charge and a bevy of directions the Seahawks can go.

"When you look at the draft in particular, and some of the areas in free agency that we've addressed, I think it's put us in a position to just let the draft kind of come to us and not feel like we need to move around or not do anything that would put the organization in jeopardy in any one position," Schneider said.

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