Seahawks likely to be spectators early in NFL draft


SEATTLE — The Seattle Seahawks don’t figure to be first-round players in the NFL draft, which begins Thursday and will run, well, longer than the typical human brain is wired to tolerate.

Any war room occupied by John Schneider and Pete Carroll is capable of startling the world’s burgeoning population of draft pundits — see “Irvin, Bruce” — but given salary-cap restrictions and the duo’s penchant for identifying fiscally fit contributors after Round 1, it’s almost certain the Seahawks will use their first selection on the 56th overall pick.

If tradition holds, this can be expected Friday:

• You either know little about him, or nothing at all. Do the names Mike Neal, Tim Crowder and Chris Chester ring a bell? Each has been taken at No. 56 since 2006.

• He’ll be a cinch to make the roster. The last No. 56 pick denied a spot on an NFL team — McNeese State center James Files, chosen by the Steelers — was in 1976, when 17 rounds were squeezed into two days. In other words, the draft’s Paleolithic Era.

• If this year’s 56th pick someday is voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it’ll be historic. Since the inaugural 1936 draft, no 56th pick has so much as merited consideration. Tackle Fred Williams participated in four Pro Bowls after he was drafted in 1952, but Williams had to settle for a more modest legacy: second-most accomplished former University of Arkansas defensive lineman (behind Dan Hampton) to play on a Bears championship team.

• Speaking of the Pro Bowl, held annually since 1950: Six players chosen 56th have made it, which puts the chances of the next 56th choice of making it at about 1 in 10. The only active 56th choice with Pro Bowl experience is defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who recently signed with the Falcons as a free agent after a decade with the Giants.

Anyway, here’s to the 56th overall picks who gave back something more: Packers offensive tackle Bob Skoronski, from Vince Lombardi’s dynasty, and quarterback Lynn Dickey, who threw for a bunch of yards between Green Bay dynasties.

Jon Kolb didn’t gain much acclaim with the Steelers teams that won four Super Bowls, but he was the left tackle who had Terry Bradshaw’s back. Todd Christensen, a fullback by trade, wasn’t thrilled when the Cowboys decided he had potential as a tight end. The position conversion worked better with the Raiders.

For every hit at No. 56, there are many misses: picks who make the team but don’t substantially contribute.

Schneider and Carroll don’t subscribe to this kind of conventional thinking. They’re thinking elsewhere. They’re thinking out there.

They’re thinking that if nobody drafted 56th has made it to the Hall of Fame, why can’t it be the guy taken by Seattle, to play for the Seahawks?