As John Schneider prepares to conduct his fifth draft for the Seahawks, it's a safe bet he won't get much criticism this time around.
Winning a Super Bowl with a bunch of mid- to late-round picks starring typically is enough to grant any general manager amnesty from all of us Monday Morning GMs.
Schneider has taken plenty of heat for some of his first-round reaches, but he also has gained the trust of the team's fans and the leniency of critics by adding a bunch of young players who just helped the Hawks win the Super Bowl.
Schneider explained the team's success, telling reporters last week that coach Pete Carroll and his staff are willing to trust inexperienced guys.
"They played with young players at USC. They're use to it," Schneider said. "They don't have a preconceived notion that you need a veteran. The easiest thing to do is sign a veteran. The toughest thing to do is sign a young player and coach them up and spend extra time with them and develop them and get them ready to play. And this staff has shown an ability to do that year in and year out.
"That commitment was part of the partnership with Pete and I that we were going to accentuate the strengths of these players. We're not going to (dwell) on the negatives; we're going to try and do whatever we can as an organization to help them compensate for their deficiencies and we're going to do whatever we can to coach them up and develop them and get them to reach their ceiling as quickly as they can.”
Some guys -- Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, et al. -- have ascended quickly. Others -- Golden Tate, Byron Maxwell, James Carpenter, Chris Michael, et al. -- have developed more slowly.
The coaches have had a lot to do with it, but it all starts with Schneider and his scouts finding the right guys for Carroll's staff to develop.
Here's a look at how Schneider has done adding talent for Carroll through the first four years:
GRADES BY ROUND
First round: C
Picks: LT Russell Okung, FS Earl Thomas, OT James Carpenter, LB Bruce Irvin.
Thomas has carried this group, becoming one of the league's elite defenders. Okung has had one good year and three injured ones, and Carpenter (injuries) and Irvin (suspension) both have been unavailable at times while also changing positions from the ones they were drafted to play.
Picks: WR Golden Tate, LB Bobby Wagner, RB Christine Michael.
Tate took two years to get going and then gave the Hawks two solid seasons of contributions. Wagner has developed into a top-flight middle 'backer in two years. Michael carries an incomplete grade after his first season, but if he steps up in 2014 he could bump this evaluation.
Picks: OG John Moffitt, QB Russell Wilson, DT Jordan Hill.
Moffitt, one of the most bizarre characters to wear Seahawks blue, drags this grade down, but if Hill gives Wilson some help next season it could bump up to an A.
Picks: CB Walter Thurmond, DE E.J. Wilson, LB K.J. Wright, WR Kris Durham, RB Robert Turbin, DT Jaye Howard, WR Chris Harper.
This round has easily been Schneider's worst, with four strikeouts and only one starter in seven picks. Wright is a good role player, great at covering tight ends, and merits a contract extension if he doesn't overestimate his value. Thurmond was oft-injured and also was suspended for four games in 2013, and he never really lived up to his billing as a mid-round gem with a second-round value. Turbin is a solid backup, but the four duds make this round a near failure.
Picks: SS Kam Chancellor, CB Richard Sherman, S Mark LeGree, LB Korey Toomer, DT Jesse Williams, CB Tharold Simon, TE Luke Willson.
The fifth round is never a sure thing, but the Pro Bowl play of Chancellor and Sherman more than offsets the couple of misses. Williams and Simon get 2015 to prove they were not bad picks, and Willson gets a chance to build on a promising rookie year.
Picks: TE Anthony McCoy, CB Byron Maxwell, CB Jeremy Lane, S Winston Guy, RB Spencer Ware.
When healthy, Maxwell and McCoy have been solid contributors. Maxwell gets the chance to remain the starter in 2015, while McCoy returns from an Achilles injury. Lane has been a special-teams dynamo and solid nickel back. Guy flamed out fast, aided by a suspension in his rookie year. Ware didn't finish his rookie season, so he gets a redo in 2014.
Picks: DE Dexter Davis, TE Jameson Konz, DE Pep Levingston, LB Malcolm Smith, OG J.R. Sweezy, DE Greg Scruggs, OG Ryan Seymour, LB Ty Powell, OL Jared Smith, OL Michael Bowie
The seventh round is such a crap shoot, but Schneider has about a 40 percent success rate, and he could have three or four starters from this group next season.
GRADES BY POSITION
QB (Picks: 1): The Hawks traded picks to get Charlie Whitehurst, but Wilson is the only pure draft pick at the position, and everyone knows how that has gone so far. Grade: A
RB (Picks: 3): Turbin has been fine as a backup and Michael and Ware haven't gotten to show much yet. Grade: B
WR (Picks: 3): Tate didn't develop until his third season, and the Hawks missed on fourth-rounders Durham and Harper. Grade: C-
TE (Picks: 3): McCoy was inconsistent before missing last season, and Willson had a typical rookie year, with a few nice plays and a few terrible plays. But not bad for the fifth and sixth rounds. Grade: B-
OL (Picks: 7): The failures of Carpenter and Moffitt drag this grade down, but the promise of seventh-rounders Sweezy and Bowie keeps it from dropping even lower. Grade: C-
DL (Picks: 7): Even giving Hill and Williams mulligans on their rookie seasons does not salvage this position from being rated the worst. Scruggs is the only D-line draft pick who has shown anything, and he missed 2013 with an ACL injury. Grade: D
LB (Picks: 6): Wagner, Wright and Smith all have had their moments, and Irvin was not bad in his first season at weakside LB last year. Grade: B
DB (Picks: 9): It's no surprise that Carroll's favorite position is the Seahawks' strength. They have built their defense from the back up, and they have missed on just two defensive backs while turning out three Pro Bowl players. Grade: A