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Draft notes from CFB week 13

Wednesday, November 30th, 2022

There were a couple of big takeaways from the South Carolina vs Clemson game. First of all, Clemson’s D-line reminds me of Premier League side Manchester United. Big names, big expectations, lots of hype. Yet they consistently flatter to deceive. I can’t recall a game recently where they dominated. However, that defeat to Notre Dame lives long in the memory where they got their arses kicked in the trenches.

Bryan Bresee continues to be spelled like crazy because of strep throat, Myles Murphy was again missing in action. K.J. Henry is the one who creates the most pressure but he doesn’t finish enough plays with a sack.

Yet if you log onto any draft website you barely ever hear anything negative about Bresee or Murphy. They just get chucked into the early first round and everyone assumes they’re brilliant.

I understand why there’s a chance they’ll both go early. Murphy can reportedly run a 4.5 at 275lbs. Bresee can run a 4.7 at over 300lbs. They are both well sized, fantastic athletes. That can and should be acknowledged. Yet the tape isn’t good. Murphy only has 6.5 sacks for the season despite playing a high number of snaps. I’ve said a hundred times now, I think he plays the run like a pussycat. Bresee has had a difficult year for reasons we’ve discussed in the past — but he’s offered little more than an occasional flash.

So I suppose the question to ask is — for a player like Murphy — why is he suddenly going to turn on the production against NFL linemen, without the advantage of playing next to a loaded, 5-star D-line?

I fear he and Bresee are two players who have simply been far more athletic than anyone else in High School and college and they’ve been able to get by. At the next level, they won’t have the same significant advantage. They’ll need to play with more aggression, better technique and they’ll need to become proper football players. How early are you willing to take a chance on that?

The second takeaway is Spencer Rattler has as much natural talent as anyone in college football. For the second game in a row, after his demolition of Tennessee, he made incredibly difficult throws look easy. The problem is — he continues to have at least one absolutely horrendous decision in him every game. Sometimes, it’s multiple horrendous decisions.

In the Clemson game he threw an awful red zone interception which, at the time, acted like a cold bucket of water over everything else he’d shown to that point. Yet he finished the game strongly.

I hope he returns to South Carolina. Something is brewing there. If he goes back, has a successful season and not just a couple of good games, he can really propel himself back into the NFL discussion. Otherwise you’re still talking about a late day three flier on someone who will essentially be handing NFL teams a two-game résumé.

There are some really nice running backs eligible for 2023 and Kenny McIntosh of Georgia continues to excel. He’s an incredible pass-catching back to go with his tenacious, violent running style. Against Georgia Tech he had a +80 yard reception with a brilliant piece of ball-tracking over his shoulder, before a hefty chunk of YAC down the sideline. He then ran it in for a short-yardage score. He is destined to be a tremendous complementary back at the next level.

I’m really tempted to move Georgia center Sedrick Van Pran to the top of my positional list. He was brilliant again on Saturday. He turned interior linemen to create huge running lanes up the middle. He sprung a massive touchdown run in the fourth quarter by chipping the defensive tackle in a double team with the guard, then progressing to the second level and driving a linebacker off his spot. The running back followed him the whole way for an untouched scoring carry. Van Pran, if he turns pro, will be a high pick in my opinion. I’m not sure what his plans are but he is legitimately someone I think you can make a case for in the top-45.

Anthony Richardson is still being talked about as a raw, unpolished player. I think that is an outdated assessment. He is not the finished article — but who is at this point? Very few players are. While the occasional inaccurate throw still blots his copybook, you’re not drafting a hybrid Josh Allen/Lamar Jackson quarterback to play like Peyton Manning. Whatever he gives up in the occasional miss, he more than makes up for in world class playmaking talent.

Without Richardson I’m not sure how many games Florida would’ve won this year. There’s very little to shout about apart from the quarterback and leading running back. Against Florida State, Richardson was let down by his receivers on several occasions and had to try and desperately keep up with FSU. He had an incredible 3rd and 8 conversion — spinning away from tackles, running through contact to get the yardage. He had some outstanding throws — including one down the seam for a touchdown — but again, some that he missed too. He has amazing potential that just needs to be harnessed. Any coach worth his salt is going to be begging the GM to let him have a crack at Richardson. Especially if you’re willing to be patient with him.

He has 26 total touchdowns and nine interceptions for the year, playing for a rebuilding team in the SEC. Alternatively, C.J. Stroud has the perfect environment to succeed at Ohio State and has 37 total touchdowns and six interceptions. People act like there’s a big difference here but there isn’t.

Before I speak about Bryce Young — a word on Alabama’s Byron Young. Whether he is shooting gaps or just pushing his blocker into the backfield — he is constantly disruptive. He’s so underrated. He’ll not be a big-time playmaker at the next level but he’ll certainly do a job as a 3-4 DE.

Bryce put in a typical Bryce performance. If you can’t pressure him and force him to bail on the pocket, he will sit and pick you apart. He had all the time in the world against Auburn and was able to throw with accuracy, timing and step into downfield throws. It was an easy day and a good showcase for his talent. The thing is, he’ll never get it this easy at the next level. He did throw a dreadful interception over the middle — flat footed, didn’t step into throw, made it easy for the defender to undercut the route. Overall it was a good day but we know what he is by now, strengths and weaknesses. How the NFL judges his size/frame will be a big talking point throughout draft season. As I’ve said a few times — I don’t think anyone is wrong or right about it. If you worry about the frame, that’s valid. If you don’t and would happily take a shot, that is perfectly plausible too.

Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid had another big day (albeit against hapless Colorado). I just get the feeling he’s going to carry on making plays at the next level if he lands in the right offense. He’s quite a talent.

Another tight end, Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer, showed why he should be a top-12 pick with another great performance against USC. He was constantly able to win battles in coverage to make receptions and he had a great TD boxing out a smaller defensive back. He’s a huge red zone weapon, a prolific playmaker and a great safety valve. Mayer is such a consistent, talented player.

Kentucky running back Chris Rodriguez wears #24, says he grew up watching Marshawn Lynch and he runs just like him. He’s so strong, powerful and drives through contact. He would be a great option for Seattle. Rodriguez was so good again against Louisville.

Will Levis also had a decent end to his SEC season, throwing 11/19 for 188 yards and two touchdowns in a key rivalry win. We’ll see if Levis plays in the Bowl game, I would hope he doesn’t given what has happened this season with Kentucky’s O-line. He’s already nursing two injuries and the fact he’s not confirmed for the Senior Bowl yet suggests he might need some surgery or recovery time. Rodriguez has confirmed he’ll be in Mobile.

When I talk about systems and environments giving certain QB’s a big advantage in terms of production, not being sacked and winning — nothing highlighted it better than Tennessee’s win at Vanderbilt. They hammered Vandy — one of the toughest, in-form teams in CFB in recent weeks — despite losing Hendon Hooker to an ACL injury. We all know Ohio State and Alabama will also retain their production next year when their QB’s move on. Ditto Washington. Kentucky and Florida, on the other hand, are going to be in serious trouble. The advantages and disadvantages, experiences and pressure on the different QB’s doesn’t get talked about enough among fans and media. People watch prolific production, pretty (albeit wide-open) throws and jump to conclusions far too often.

This brings me on to Michael Penix Jr, who I like. He has grown on me over time because of his fantastic arm. Without a question, there’s something to work with there. However, I’m reading all this ‘Penix Jr for Heisman’ stuff and people talking on the radio about him being a first round pick and it just gets so frustrating.

Even Pete Carroll was asked on Seattle Sports about Penix Jr this week. His answer, tellingly, highlighted the great scheme he plays within. And there you go. Carroll nailed it with that answer.

When you operate in a half-field, one-read scheme that makes all the calls for you on the sideline and consistently is able to cook up situations where your receivers are wide open, you will have a lot of success. There weren’t many challenging throws for Penix Jr in the Apple Cup. Granted, he can drive the ball in such an attractive way — you can’t help but be impressed. Even a throw to a wide-open receiver can look amazing if delivered with an eye-catching flick of the wrist.

Yet I feel like I keep repeating myself on this — probably in a futile way, given I suspect people who read this blog already get it. At the next level you need to run through progressions, make checks and calls yourself, you need to make quick decisions and deliver precise throws into smaller windows. None of this is evident in the Washington, Ohio State and Tennessee schemes. The quarterbacks are all babied, given advice from the sideline and often just need to look off the safety and throw to the one-read. If everything clicks — you throw to an open guy most of the time. We’ve all seen what happens when it doesn’t because Stroud, Penix Jr and Hooker have all thrown identical interceptions into triple coverage.

Because of Penix Jr’s arm strength, when the scheme puts people downfield in space and he has all the time in the world to throw, it’s easy. This from Monday’s article highlights how much time Penix Jr has in the pocket…

Sacks conceded per-game in 2022:

Oregon — 0.4
Washington — 0.5
Georgia — 0.5
Ohio State — 0.7
Florida — 1.3
Alabama — 1.5
Tennessee — 1.9
Kentucky — 3.5

So if your guys are open and you have all the time in the world to throw and you have a big arm — production is inevitable.

Kudos to Washington for finding a coach in Kalen DeBoer who is essentially their answer to Josh Heupel. It should mean offensively they are productive for years to come, will regularly churn out prolific QB’s and they will have success provided they can deliver a complementary defense. We should be honest and up front about the scheme though and what it does for the quartetback.

Sadly, when Penix Jr has had to go off script and make decisions — we see things like the horrendous red zone interception he had against Washington State. In the NFL he won’t be able to sit there and just lob downfield to players with five yards of separation from a clean pocket. He will have to process and improvise and go through progressions. I’m not sure we have enough on tape to feel confident about that and as such, it tempers his stock. For me — the arm puts him in the third round range but even then he is a project who will need time to learn the ways of the NFL. When he gets a chance, he’ll need to show he can function outside of the college system he benefits from.

Pittsburgh’s Calijah Kancey and TCU’s Quentin Johnston didn’t play at the weekend due to injury.

And with that, the college football regular season is over. I will share notes on the Championship weekend and then we’re into the Bowls, where most draft prospects will opt to sit out and declare for the NFL.

I hope you’ve found the last 13 weeks useful. I’ve poured my heart into watching tape this year, knowing it was such a big draft in 2023 for the Seahawks. We’re talking 8-10 hours on a Saturday after I finish broadcasting for my day job, then multiple hours on Sunday with follow up study every week night after I finish work.

I’ve always suggested this has been like a second full-time job for me, running this blog. Since the summer it’s been more like a second and third full-time job. I don’t get everything right and never will but I hope it’s provided a decent overview of the draft in advance of the mainstream media arriving on the scene in January to tell you a load of information without any of the September-December groundwork.

If you’ve enjoyed the work and want to support the blog so that I can consider options for the pre-draft coverage in the new year, please consider supporting the site via Patreon — (click here)

Should the Seahawks copy the Cowboys, Jets and 49ers?

Tuesday, November 29th, 2022

This is also available via ‘The Rebuild’ podcast streams

There’s not a simple fix for Seattle’s defense in the draft

Monday, November 28th, 2022

“They need to add a game-wrecker”

I’ve seen people say this a few times since the Raiders game.

If only it were that easy.

This is partly the problem with the draft. If you don’t have intimate knowledge of a class, it’s easy to be swayed by mainstream opinion (which isn’t always reliable).

I’m not convinced there’s an obvious ‘game-wrecker’ in the 2023 group. A player who might be, Pittsburgh’s Calijah Kancey, is an afterthought among most draft analysts purely due to his size.

Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter is a very good player and has shown game-wrecking potential in a couple of games since returning from injury. I’m not convinced, however, that we’re seeing someone who can crash the interior with consistency to truly ‘wreck games’. Certainly his numbers this year — two sacks and five TFL’s in 10 games — don’t suggest we’re talking about an unstoppable force.

As a point of comparison, Quinnen Williams had eight sacks and 19.5 TFL’s in his final year at Alabama (15 games).

Will Anderson, meanwhile, has endured a mixed season. After taking college football by storm in 2021 he hasn’t been able to rekindle that form this year. He’s had some really rough games, such as the outing at Tennessee where he was manhandled by Darnell Wright.

Teams will spend considerable time working out how a player with an astonishing 31 TFL’s and 17.5 sacks a year ago only has 17 TFL’s and 10 sacks in 2022.

Let’s be clear — those are still good numbers. They are far better than the other, somewhat overrated defensive linemen eligible for the draft. It’s still a reduction though and he hasn’t been the game-wrecking force we saw last season.

We also need to be clear about what Anderson is. He’s listed at 6-4 and 243lbs. That is a lot smaller than your typical game-wrecking EDGE. For example, Joey Bosa is 269lbs. Nick Bosa is 266lbs. Myles Garrett is 272lbs. They are all considerably heavier than Anderson — and his frame looks relatively maxed out already.

The hope has to be that he can be a Von Miller type. The combine, therefore, will be crucial. Miller weighed 246lbs at the 2011 combine and ran a 4.53 forty, a 4.06 short shuttle, a 6.70 three cone and jumped a 37 inch vertical. These are incredible numbers. Anderson will need to emulate Miller to truly warrant the comparison.

He’s still a quality player. Both Carter and Anderson, within this class, deserve to go in the top-five. Either would be a good pick for Seattle and present a worthy chance to take. But I don’t feel either are shoe-ins in the way the Bosa brothers or Garrett were. It also won’t be a surprise if both experience significant growing pains.

In many ways saying ‘draft a game-wrecker’ is similar to saying ‘draft a franchise quarterback’. It’s not easy to win the jackpot.

Look at the pass rushers drafted in the top-10 between 2017-2021:

2017 — Solomon Thomas

Genuinely looked the part at Stanford, was drafted third overall and was a complete and total bust.

2018 — Bradley Chubb

Recently traded by Denver to Miami, Chubb is a good not great player and while certainly offering plus ability off the edge, he’s not a particularly feared ‘game-wrecker’.

2019 — Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams, Clelin Ferrell, Josh Allen, Ed Oliver

Bosa is unquestionably one of the best in the game. Williams has needed all four years of his rookie contract to realise his potential and now looks legit. Ferrell was a bust, while Allen and Oliver are fairly middling players.

2020 — Chase Young

Injuries have stalled Young’s career but there wasn’t that much evidence of ‘game-wrecking’ potential when he was on the field. He feels more like a player who can become Bradley Chubb rather than Nick Bosa.

2021 — None

As we can see, the hit-rate isn’t good. It’s worse than the top-10 quarterbacks drafted that have become excellent players (Mahomes, Allen, Burrow, Tagovailoa, Herbert). You also have players who have flashed franchise potential (Murray) and players who could yet reach that level (Lawrence).

It is incredibly hard to find a game-wrecking defensive lineman. Often when you get one it’s through sheer luck. Teams passing on Aaron Donald due to his size. Maxx Crosby lasting to round four. Nobody realising Micah Parsons could play the edge because he focused on middle linebacker at Penn State. T.J. Watt inexplicably lasting until the late first round.

Something similar might happen in 2023 with Kancey, if his immense talent and production translates to the next level. He has, after all, helped Pittsburgh to 45 sacks in 2022 — the most in college football. I’m not sure many people realise that.

Yet it will be difficult for the Seahawks to find the next great superstar defensive lineman — even with a top-five pick.

I think that’s something that frankly just needs to be said at this point, amid the growing clamour to ‘just get a star in the draft’. It really is no different than trying to find the next Patrick Mahomes or Joe Burrow, I’m afraid, and there’s little to suggest such a player will be readily available when the Seahawks inevitably benefit from Denver’s miserable situation.

I think there are other things to consider here too. As I touched on last night, this can’t just be a ‘talent’ thing. No team should be conceding 300 total yards to a running back, giving up nearly 600 yards of total offense and nearly 300 rushing yards.

The Seahawks are giving up 388.7 yards a game. They’re on course to smash last season’s unwanted franchise record of conceding 379.1 yards a game. Despite all the scheme and coaching changes — they have regressed as a unit.

Promising players like Darrell Taylor have become total non-factors. They seem incapable of creating pressure. At times it feels like they’re playing without edge rushers. I’m not a X’s and O’s expert but I’ve wondered a couple of times whether the ‘OLB’ responsibilities thrust upon Seattle’s edge players are preventing them from just getting their heads down and having a blast at the quarterback.

The run defense is a shambles, the linebacker play isn’t good (despite what people tell you about Jordyn Brooks, including the Pro Bowl voting). Quandre Diggs is having a rotten season.

Seattle’s defense has been fairly miserable for a number of years but they’re in danger of plumbing new depths. While this is a group that certainly is in need of a talent injection, I’m wondering whether we should rue the fact they can’t draft a well organised scheme or a good defensive coordinator.

After watching the last two games I’m also returning to the thought that if you want to run the Vic Fangio defense, you better hire the man himself. Otherwise you’ll end up with a pale imitation. Or worse — you’ll watch a defense giving up 600 yards to a 3-7 team.

It also has to be said that a reasonable amount has already been spent on this group. L.J. Collier and Jordyn Brooks are both first round picks. They spent two firsts on the injured Jamal Adams. Boye Mafe and Darrell Taylor cost second round picks. Cody Barton cost a third rounder. Poona Ford has the biggest cap hit on the roster this year. They just paid Quandre Diggs a fortune, plus Adams a year ago. Uchenna Nwosu was the most expensive outside free agent they’ve ever signed.

For anyone thinking plunging picks and resource into the unit will be a cure-all — that’s not necessarily going to be the case.

Until they can get the scheme sorted, organised and functioning — with the team at least able to not be a shambles defending the run and rushing the passer — any optimism for the future will be checked somewhat.

I mean, does anyone really want to see Will Anderson essentially reduced to an ineffective role as an OLB within this scheme?

So how do they do move forward? They’ve tried different coaches and ideas. They’ve spent picks. The Head Coach clearly isn’t going anywhere. So how does this work?

This brings us back to the broader outlook for this team. Where exactly are they?

The 2023 draft might be the only time in this window the Seahawks get to use a top-five pick, thanks to the Broncos. How they approach the draft will shape the future of the team and determine so much.

Is Geno Smith good enough to win a Super Bowl? Is he good enough to justify avoiding the quarterback position with a high pick next year?

These are questions we must discuss in more detail.

As the team has been winning and succeeding, it’s been easy to imagine pairing a prolific offense with a better defense and Seattle growing within a muddled NFC.

Yet, as we’ve seen, it’s difficult to draft and create a great defense. It’s not unimaginable to think they could spend high picks on the defense next year (which I’m not opposed to at all) but we see little immediate return for that investment (rookie growing pains) and the team doesn’t really improve from where it is now (6-5). In the meantime, Geno Smith will turn 33 and while it’s quite fun watching him succeed this year on a $3.5m cap hit — how will we feel watching the same kind of results when they’re paying him, say, $30m?

Smith was probably one of the few bright spots yesterday against the Raiders but it was also clear he was throwing a few more riskier passes and he was responsible for an interception and possibly a fumble on a botched run/pass option.

The Seahawks undoubtedly will want to keep Smith beyond this year unless he implodes down the stretch. Yet they’re going to have a once in a generation (for this franchise) opportunity to pick very, very early in round one — with a reasonable quarterback class on deck.

If we take the view that perhaps this team isn’t as close to contention as we thought three weeks ago — it might be a wise decision to invest in a potential heir apparent to Smith and try to find defensive solutions with your other picks.

The ‘Alex Smith-Patrick Mahomes’ transition plan, if you will.

Such a decision might be thrust upon Seattle anyway.

The current top four in the draft are:

#1 Houston
#2 Chicago
#3 Detroit (via Rams)
#4 Seahawks (via Broncos)

On first viewing it’s easy to assume the Texans and Lions will both draft quarterbacks, leaving one of Jalen Carter or Will Anderson for the Seahawks.

I’m not so sure about that.

For starters — C.J. Stroud has not had the kind of year to justify the almost unchecked praise he receives on the internet. I think it’s possible teams will view him with suspicion mixed with intrigue. He has the arm talent for sure — but like all Ohio State quarterbacks he has been babied by the scheme and the talent around him. We hear all about Will Levis’ 10 interceptions (one of which was a clear sack/fumble against Florida) but Stroud has thrown six picks in a much better environment — with better weapons, easier opponents and superior protection.

Levis himself has not had a fun time this season. Kentucky’s O-line has been an abomination. They’ve given up 3.5 sacks a game — ninth most in college football. That’s with a recent improvement too — that number was nearer the 4-5 sacks per game mark a few weeks ago.

Here are some important comparisons as you form your own opinions on the quarterbacks in this draft…

Sacks conceded per-game in 2022:

Oregon — 0.4
Washington — 0.5
Georgia — 0.5
Ohio State — 0.7
Florida — 1.3
Alabama — 1.5
Tennessee — 1.9
Kentucky — 3.5

Of course, stuff like this rarely gets mentioned in the media. It’s an important statistic to know, along with the schemes these teams use. For example — put Michael Penix Jr behind Kentucky’s O-line and let’s see how he gets on. Ditto Bryce Young for that matter. I’m sure Will Levis would’ve enjoyed some of those wide open throws Penix Jr managed in the Apple Cup, plus the half-field read offense. And that’s not to diminish Penix Jr, who has a great arm and has achieved great things this year. But an apples for apples comparison you cannot make between all the signal callers entering the league. Their environments, schemes and situations are all terribly different.

Even so — Levis has no momentum going into draft season, unless you want to count momentum moving him into the medical room. He’s played with shoulder and foot injuries all year due to the battering he’s received. I still think he will be the first quarterback taken due to his extreme physical skills, experience in a pro-offense and winning character but it’s hardly a shoe-in. Neither is it a slam dunk he will become the next Justin Herbert or Josh Allen, as some are suggesting he could be.

Bryce Young is great but as we’ve said a few times — he’s 5-10 and 185lbs. That might not matter to people on the internet but it will matter to GM’s needing to justify their jobs and their owners’ faith and millions of dollars.

Then there’s Anthony Richardson — far from the finished product but an insane physical specimen who at times looks like a Josh Allen/Lamar Jackson hybrid. He could be the #1 pick or the #20 pick next year. I think as the process goes on teams will fall in love with his potential and think less about the slightly inaccurate throws (too many just behind the receiver or making the target work for the ball). Again though — there’s no guarantee that happens.

As such, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Texans decide their best course of action is to let GM Nick Caserio ring his old buddy Jimmy Garoppolo and decide their intention is to roll with a quarterback who has been to one Super Bowl and a separate NFC Championship game while building up their defense. Especially if Carter and Anderson test well at the combine.

Chicago will go defense at #2 given the lack of options on the offensive line. The only thing stopping that would be an attractive trade down option.

What I’m saying is — don’t be shocked if the top two picks are the top two defensive players. You might scoff at that now but try telling anyone a year ago that Malik Willis wasn’t a high first round pick. You’d get the same response.

If the top two defensive linemen are off the board when Seattle picks — I don’t think there’s another you can justify taking that early. Neither do I think trading down to acquire more stock is a great idea either. We’ve seen that show before — getting loads of picks and not doing anything with them. It should only really be a consideration if the compensation includes future firsts — and it’s too early to know how likely that is.

Aside from Anderson, Carter and the top four quarterbacks — the only two players I think you can legitimately justify taking in the top-10 are a running back (Bijan Robinson) and a tight end (Michael Mayer). As such, I think it creates the extra incentive to just stash a QB if the top two defenders are gone.

Frankly, it should be a consideration even if the defenders are available. This is still a quarterback league — even if you do need to support them with complementary offensive and defensive pieces.

Can Geno Smith lead Seattle to the promise land? That’s a big question. If not, you have a duty to ask whether others in the draft can. I do think the likes of Levis and Richardson look like the kind of big, strong, athletic, impressive types John Schneider tends to be wooed by.

That said, the Seahawks need to be able to win in the trenches to play their brand of football. At the moment, they are failing miserably to do that.

Peter Carroll admitted on the radio this morning:

“We didn’t win the line of scrimmage on either side of the ball and that was really devastating.”

At least, it seems, they know where their priorities lie for next off-season. With or without a high quarterback pick thrown in.

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Instant reaction: Seahawks lose in horrible fashion

Sunday, November 27th, 2022

It feels like we’ve gone back in time. Atlanta game? New Orleans game?

A squandered opportunity. And thus, the Seahawks are regressing back into the pack.

A season that promised much — and flirted with being magical — has slumped back into something a lot less appetising. Losses to a clearly not-right Tampa Bay team — and now a Raiders team that was 3-7 coming into the day — have put the Seahawks in a much less exciting position.

They’re 6-5, a game-and-a-half behind the 49ers for the NFC West lead and while their schedule isn’t unfavourable over the next few weeks — they’ve blown too many winnable games to feel anything is brewing in 2022.

Seattle’s defense found its groove a few weeks ago. They were creating sacks and were complementing the offense nicely. Things were clicking.

Sadly, they have gone back to what we were seeing at the start of the season.

A total and utter shambolic disaster.

The warning signs were there against Tampa Bay in Munich. An inability to defend the run or create any pressure against Tom Brady was the catalyst in a fairly comfortable Buccaneers win.

Here, if it wasn’t for some especially generous Raiders turnovers and decision making, it’s hard to know if the Seahawks would’ve stopped anything. Derek Carr threw two picks, Josh McDaniels tried to get six inches by putting the football five yards behind the LOS and preferred to kick for goal on another fourth down when Seattle couldn’t do anything against the interior run.

Seattle’s defense was like a hot knife through butter. Carr had all day to throw. I can’t recall one win off the edge in four quarters of football. Is the scheme even letting the pass rushers attack? Or are they being used as extra linebackers with too many other responsibilities, never able to just come screaming off the edge? They had no answer to the running game — punctuated by an 86-yard touchdown to lose in overtime which was frankly embarrassing.

I feel we’re back to asking questions of the staff and the players. What’s going on with the scheme? Are they just not good enough in terms of personnel?

The talent question, to me, feels like a cop out. You don’t need Aaron Donald to not be horrendous. It’s possible to scheme up ways to stymy opponents — even if the results end up being mixed. There was nothing mixed here. It was consistently rubbish.

With two weeks of preparation how can the defense go back to its worst? I’m not a X’s and O’s expert at all — but it seemed like nobody could get off a block, there was no gap control up front and with no pressure being created — a safety valve (or worse) would always uncover for Carr. Meanwhile, you give up 7.1 yards a carry in the running game.

Sure, an injection of talent — hopefully coming in the off-season — will help the defense. We need to see a better job next week though, especially against a banged up Rams offense. They’ve got to get back to doing the basics well — essentially defending the run and finding a way to create some pressure.

Or do we need to see it? Are we back, now, to accepting what this season is and looking to the future? Thinking about draft position? Because you’re not winning anything of note playing like this.

Seattle’s identity is predicated on good defense and running the ball. As the defense has gone to pot, so has the running game. They’re not creating any push up front, no holes. They had to abandon it today. They had three yards a carry — and that’s only thanks to Geno Smith’s 22 scrambling yards.

As with the defense — they’ve got to find a way to get that going again otherwise they can’t play Pete Carroll football.

My fear is that while all of this is going on — it puts tremendous pressure on Geno Smith. He had one interception today but it could’ve been more. He had a fumble on a botched exchange. Maxx Crosby was teeing off in the second half and why not when you don’t have to worry about the run?

We don’t want to get into a situation where it’s all on Smith to carry the team and we saw today, I think, that he’s not always going to be able to do it.

This was another game where the offense scored 34 points and it wasn’t enough to win, at home, against a 3-7 team. That’s sad.

The silver lining is this loss helps Seattle’s draft position, relating to the Broncos. Because Denver lost to Carolina, the Raiders winning means the Seahawks now own the #4 pick instead of #5. It’s nice to have that as a bonus — but a win would’ve been better, to keep the feeling alive that this could be a year with some legit January excitement.

Instead, increasingly, we’re getting to the point where the off-season rather than the post-season is going to be the thing to look forward to.

Curtis Allen’s week twelve watchpoints (vs Raiders)

Sunday, November 27th, 2022

This is a guest article by Curtis Allen. After the game today tune into the instant reaction live stream which will be available on here and on our YouTube channel

The Seahawks come out of one of the latest bye weeks in the Pete Carroll era refreshed and mostly healthy, a half a game out of the division lead and with five of their final seven games at home. They are set up with the playoffs in sight about as well as a team can be. Can they start a run that elevates this unexpected season from being a mere feel-good story to a playoff team? We are about to find out.

Pete Carroll has a 7-5 record in the Seahawk era in games following a bye week. They will need a ‘taking care of business’ win against the Raiders, who are having an unexpected season of their own – just in the other direction.

On offense, they are adjusting to new coach Josh McDaniels’ offense but they have been absolutely hammered by injuries.

Top targets Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow are on Injured Reserve. That is about 120-130 yards per game in the trainer’s room right there and Foster Moreau and Mack Hollis have not been able to fill those gaps adequately. Yet both Waller and Renfrow were more than pure numbers. They were players that pushed the offense forward down the field. First downs and explosive plays in the clutch were their calling card. It is no wonder they are having trouble this year.

On defense, it has been a disaster. Their pass rush other than Maxx Crosby has been awful. They are dead last in the NFL in sacks and bottom-ten in the other quarterback-effect stats (hurries, pressures and pressure %) despite blitzing a healthy 29% of the time. As a result, they are giving up a net of seven yards gained per pass attempt.

Their run defense is not much better. They have conceded 100 yards rushing in every loss this year except one – Week One against the Chargers, where the offense turned the ball over three times.

At 3-7, their playoff hopes are all but dashed at this point. There are eleven teams ahead of them in the AFC playoff seeding. They are not mathematically eliminated yet but it would take something historic to get them into the playoffs.

You know the drill. Playing a team in that shape in Week Twelve with very little on the line can be either a cakewalk or stepping into a big bear trap.

I prefer a cakewalk.

The Raiders have some top talent the Seahawks will have to contend with but precious little depth.

How do they minimize those key players and take advantage of a depleted roster?

Control the Game

This has been a regular issue I have been pounding the table on this season. So much good can be accomplished by establishing your tempo by running the ball, throwing for some quick strikes and building a lead. This is especially important in this game. Like I mentioned above, the Raiders are on the ropes. A quick start could lead to a relatively low-stress second half for the Seahawks.

The numbers statistically also support that strategy.

The Raiders are one of the worst first-quarter offenses (3.3 points per game) and the Seahawks are one of the best (6.4 ppg).

That number for Seattle is a bit misleading though. They scored 17 in the first quarter of the Chargers game and cruised to a victory in Week Seven. But in the next three games, they failed to score any points in the first quarter twice and only got a field goal in the other game.

They need to get back to coming out of the gate quickly. Pete Carroll and Shane Waldron seemed to play the first quarter against the Bucs in Munich very conservatively, seemingly sizing them up and adjusting to the field conditions. It cost them as their late comeback fell short.

Every Raiders statistic says that coming out and aggressively mixing the run and pass game is an effective strategy. Derek Carr’s numbers in clutch time so far this year have been absolutely horrible:

-He is throwing only a 59.78% completion rate on third downs
-His second-half completion percentage is 54.86% (down from 70% and 66% the last two years)
-That includes a putrid 50.89% in the fourth quarter

This despite Carr having the most time in the pocket (2.6 seconds) and low sack numbers (20) and pressure percentages (20.3%).

Turning up the heat and not letting the Raiders comfortably set up their offensive playbook is very important.

Why? Overall poor numbers matter little when you are tied in the fourth quarter or overtime and Carr has an absolute beast to throw to…

Keep Davante Adams from Wrecking the Game

With their other receivers badly banged up, Carr has looked for Adams a lot lately and their relationship on the field is really starting to bear fruit.

Adams is one of the NFL’s best wide receivers and lately he has been showing it. In his last three games he has averaged 9.5 catches for 136 yards and 1.5 touchdowns. Two of those games he was matched up with excellent corners Patrick Surtain and Stephen Gilmore at times.

He is a real weapon and the huge investment the Raiders made to acquire and extend him is really paying off. I feel forced to use the dreaded cliché ‘you can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him.’

There are ways to limiting his effectiveness that have nothing to do with how you defend him.

First off, as I mentioned, a quick start is necessary. Why?

Adams has brought his savvy and game intelligence with him to Las Vegas. He is so good at selling routes that he can build a route tree to set defenders up for later in the game.

He did that on the overtime game-winner on Surtain. He had run the route to continue to the left side of the field two or three times earlier in the game and in overtime Surtain bit, thinking he had Adams bracketed with the safety. Adams broke the other way and left everyone in the dust:

He was able to make the play at a clutch time because he had opportunity earlier in the game to set up the move. Those opportunities come when the Raiders have the ball and have the time to run those plays and get Adams into the flow of the game and into defenders’ heads.

Just like when he was in Green Bay working with Rodgers, the Raiders spend the early part of the game with short passes, effectively establishing a pattern and feeling the defense out for these strikes later in the game.

What makes it so effective is the team as able to move the offense forward while establishing these setups. Adams has the short-area quickness and strong hands to take those 5–8-yard routes and turn them into first downs. He then has the speed and read-and-react ability to take advantage later in the game to catch defenders predicting where he will go and incorrectly jumping the route.

If the Seahawks can score on offense (and eating up some clock time while doing it would be a real added bonus) they can put pressure on the Raider offense and disrupt some of this route-building activity. It hinders an extremely effective schematic weapon and levels the playing field a little.

The other thing that can help the Seahawks is playing the percentages. In the last three games, Carr has targeted Adams 44 times. Josh Jacobs and Hollis have about 15-16 targets each in that span. Everyone else is in single digits.

Jacobs is coming out of the backfield. The point being, when Carr wants to throw downfield, he is looking for Adams.

Double cover him. Bracket him. Drop a linebacker or the strong safety and disrupt his crossing routes.

Adams deserves all the attention he will get from the defense. Nobody should line up for a play and not know where #17 is. This is where the defensive coaching staff may have to bend their principles a little. Having say Quandre Diggs covering a specific area where a less-effective wide receiver is running may be the schematically smart play but there may be times it would be wise to trust your corners to cover them one on one and have everyone else focus on Adams.

The only other Raider the Seahawks need to worry about may not even play on Sunday…

Keep Josh Jacobs in Check

At the moment, Jacobs is listed as questionable to play because of a hamstring injury.

If he is unable to go, it would be quite the opportunity for the Seahawks to capitalize and make the Raiders one-dimensional.

Jacobs IS the Raiders’ rushing attack this year. He has 930 yards rushing. Who is their next best rusher? Derek Carr with 67 yards rushing. Nobody else on their roster has as many as ten rushing attempts.

If he plays and is able to give it a full effort, the Seahawks will have a real challenge in keeping him in check. He is a treat to watch – when you are not defending him.

He is far and away the NFL’s king in yards after contact at 2.9 per carry (Chubb is second at 2.7). He may be the best runner of the football in traffic today. Jacobs is able to get skinny and slippery to take advantage of the smallest holes, push through arm tackles and keep plowing forward. Every time you think he is contained, whoops there he goes for four yards.

He has sixteen broken tackles, good for fifth in the NFL.

Tampa Bay showed some runs and looks that the Seahawks did not game plan for and when they needed to stop their run game, they could not. I think it is fair to say that the Raiders were watching.

If you want to keep control of this game and not allow Davante Adams into the end zone waving goodbye to the Seahawks fans at Lumen on Sunday, getting Jacobs to the ground as quickly as possible is mission critical.

Everyone Must Keep Maxx Crosby from Disrupting the Offense

Crosby is the lone shining star on a pretty rotten Raider defense. He has a sparkling 89.9 PFF rating and it is not hard to see why on the field.

Against the Raiders last week, he had: six tackles, four pressures, two sacks, three QB hits, a forced fumble and blocked a field goal try. Unreal. Davante Adams rightly got a lot of attention for a great game against Denver but I would contend Crosby’s day was better. He was a one-man wrecking crew against that sputtering Bronco offense.

He primarily lines up over the Right Tackle. Games like this are why we all celebrated when Abe Lucas slid to them in the third round of the draft this year. Lucas will have his work cut out for him.

Watch Crosby employ his signature spin move and do it so quickly the right guard cannot pick him up. He splits the two easily and takes Russell Wilson down:

Deadly. That spin move has twisted several tackles right into the ground.

It is not all on Lucas to keep him in check. Watch his second sack. Jayon Brown comes in to pick the right tackle and for some reason Melvin Gordon thinks a 300-lb right tackle needs help with a 227-lb linebacker and leaves a huge hole for Crosby to whiz right by him and take Wilson down again.

I am not saying this is why Gordon was later cut — but yikes.

This is similar to what I said about Adams. Right now, there is one player that can really hurt you and disrupt the game. If everyone is aware of it, you have a chance to keep his speed and power in check.

Lucas will take the point in the one on one.

The running backs will need to help when they are charged with pass protection.

Geno Smith will want to get the ball out quickly and have his head-timer functioning properly. He has delivered great numbers this year while being blitzed 32.9% of the time. The Seahawks need that kind of performance against a desperate team who may throw the kitchen sink at him. And when they do not, Crosby can win in base defense. Smith will need to be up to the task.

If they can keep these principles in mind, they can move the football as they like. The game will come swimmingly to them. If they cannot — and Crosby turns in another performance like he did last week — we will all be left to question how one of the NFL’s worst defenses was able to keep a team with all of the Seahawks’ offensive firepower down.

College Football week 13 open thread

Saturday, November 26th, 2022

Here are the initial games I have access to watch this weekend:

Florida vs Florida State (recorded, will watch on Sunday)
South Carolina vs Clemson
Georgia Tech vs Georgia
Auburn vs Alabama
Notre Dame vs USC
LSU vs Texas A&M
Washington vs Washington State

Feel free to use this as an open thread to discuss the CFB weekend.

A quick note that Tony Pauline continues to hear Anthony Richardson will declare for the 2023 draft. Richardson still has plenty to work on but again, so do all of the quarterbacks eligible for the draft. His combination of physical brilliance, system experience and upside will be incredibly enticing to teams.

I continue to think if he is available to the Seahawks, they should at the very least consider drafting him early. Being able to roll with Geno Smith and develop Richardson in the background could be an ideal long-term solution at quarterback — enabling the Seahawks to compete now but set-up their long term future. That doesn’t mean I think they should definitely do this, simply that it should be considered.

Curtis Allen: Questions answered by the Seahawks

Friday, November 25th, 2022

With a bye week to catch our breath this season I thought we could discuss some answers to the questions I posed to the offense and defense back in July. 

Questions for the Defense 

Questions for the Offense 

As you can imagine, the answers reveal a mix of good and bad, some pleasant surprises and some same-old, same-old to this Seahawks team.  

They also give us an early read on some of the issues the team will face this offseason as they build their roster for 2023.

Can the coaching staff avoid a sluggish start on defense for the third season in a row?

Answer:  No

This might be the most baffling issue of the modern Seahawks era.  Once again in 2022, the defense started out horribly.  The line – which the Seahawks bolstered with several offseason signings – was barely functioning apart from Al Woods and Uchenna Nowsu.  The linebackers were not kept clean.  Players did not appear to understand their assignments.  Quarterbacks had time, runners had holes and linebackers and safeties were not in position to make routine tackles.  The results were predictable.

Just think:  if the Seahawks were slightly better on defense those first few weeks, they prevent or minimize the defensive breakdowns in the Atlanta and New Orleans games and sit at 8-2 right now.  Pete Carroll would have a real claim to Coach of the Year votes.

What is the problem?  The real truth may never come to light, as we will not be privy to the internal conversations at Seahawks Headquarters.

From Week One however, outside analysts and former players were pointing out that the team acquired players with a certain skillset, and then actively decided to scheme against that skillset.

The public comments by Pete Carroll and Clint Hurtt failed to shed any light on the situation.  Asked if there is a link to the slow defensive starts in recent seasons, Pete feigned ignorance.  One thing we do know:  A Clint Hurtt promotion and a Sean Desai hiring did not stop the trend.

Very rarely does any NFL team start perfectly in tune.  Adjustments after a few weeks are always part of the game.  However, the degree to which the Seahawks need adjusting is too high to be just shrugged off by the fact that they inevitably did make the needed adjustments and are now playing well.

This will remain a major issue for the 2023 season.  Particularly if the Seahawks nail their offseason and stand ready to be a serious contender.  Another ugly start on defense could put a real dent in those hopes.

Can this team get a reasonable return on their investments at the safety position?

Answer:  No — but Ryan Neal blossoming sure eases the sting

Quandre Diggs has not been good this season.  A 62 PFF rating, no heat-seeking-missile like tackles to give his teammates a charge, and so far, he is allowing a career-worst 137 QB rating when targeted.

It is so much more than that though.  It is the missed tackles and his nonchalant attitude on the field that does not match up with his words to the press.  His year does not seem to have improved with the sudden emergence of the pass rush the last few weeks.

There needs to be a real discussion this offseason about whether Diggs is on this team in 2023.  His cap number is $18.1 million.  What are the options? 

He has $8.2 million in signing bonus money that will need to be accrued for on the cap.  They can swallow all of that as a 2023 dead cap and reap $9.9 million of cap room immediately or designate him a post-June 1 cut and split the dead cap between 2023 and 2024 and pick up $14.1 million of room after June 1.

Question for offseason consideration:  Is having $9.9m in March and a clean cap with no dead money for Diggs in 2024 worth eating all $8.2 million of the dead money in 2023?  It very well might be.  

That might heavily depend on what the Seahawks plan to do with his battery mate…

On Jamal Adams, not much else needs to be said.  He has had serious injuries three seasons in a row.  His trade value is shot until he has a sustainable stretch of good, healthy play again.

One salary cap note to be aware of though:  Both Spotrac and OTC are reporting that the Seahawks will pick up $11 million of cap room if they choose to designate him a post-June 1 cut.  Unfortunately, it is a little less than that.  Adams’ contract has a clause that guarantees $2.56 million of his 2023 salary if he is on the roster February 4.  It is guaranteed for injury, which Adams obviously is.  So that $11 million savings is actually $8.44 million that would come available after June 1.

The Seahawks need to either cut Adams or approach him about reworking his contract and easing that massive cap hit.  Going forward with that contract in place is not an option.

A disappointing safety situation has been softened by the emergence of Ryan Neal.  A few weeks ago, I wrote about the need for the Seahawks to get him on the field:

“Ryan Neal has been a great utility player at the defensive back position and on special teams for the Seahawks.  They now have 13 games to see what he can do at the starting strong safety spot.  He is a Restricted Free Agent in 2023, so the team has control of him.   

If they want to retain him, they may have to offer him enough money to scare other teams off.  Therefore, they need to determine right now if he can be worth it as more than a rotational player.”

The Seahawks have put him in and he has absolutely delivered.  In seven games (six as a full-time player) Neal has an 80.4 PFF grade, a sack, a QB hit, a forced fumble, three tackles for loss and six passes defensed.

Neal is more than numbers though.  He is beginning to emerge as a leader on the defense.  He is regularly making pregame speeches and is giving the press great quotes about a hard-nosed defensive attitude.  He is bringing some of that undrafted-dog-off-the-street mentality that made the early Pete Carroll Seahawks so tough.

He will be a Restricted Free Agent in 2023, so the Seahawks will have control of his rights.  According to OTC they will need to tender him at a number of at least $2.69 million to control his rights.  They could easily tender him at the second-round level, or just buy out the RFA year by signing him to an extension early, like they did with Bryan Mone this last offseason.

Can the team distribute the defensive snaps in a more effective way in 2022?

Answer:  Absolutely yes

I opined on a years-long Pete Carroll gripe of mine:  After building one of the greatest defenses in NFL history on the back of giving young players snaps to develop and trusting in their skill, work ethic and instincts, Carroll has reversed course the past few years and blocked young players with expensive, past-their-prime veterans with very little to show for it.  Thankfully Carroll has bucked that trend this year.

At the cornerback spot I wrote:

“The Seahawks have collected an impressive group of talented young cornerbacks. They also wisely covered themselves with veteran free agent signings to assure depth and experience is provided at the position. But will we witness Carroll once again opting for the comfort of experience and mediocre yet predictable play over the unknown of youth and talent at the position?”

The Seahawks answered that question emphatically.  Tariq Woolen has been a revelation, Mike Jackson has been very solid, and Coby Bryant has had more game-changing plays than any nickel in recent Seahawks memory.

Veterans Artie Burns and Justin Coleman have been relegated to the bench.  Sidney Jones was inactive for several games, and with Tre Brown close to coming back, ended up being caught in a numbers game and waived off the roster (to the Seahawks’ credit, they tried and tried and tried to get a team to pick up a chunk of his $2.2 million hit.  They offered him in the trade market, they specifically waived him instead of cutting him, hoping some team would claim him and take his salary off their books, but in the end, they only picked up $480k of roster bonus money and ate the rest as dead cap).

All of this was made possible by Pete Carroll returning to his competitive roots.  And now, the Seahawks reap a fantastic benefit:  They will have Tariq Woolen, Coby Bryant, Tre Brown and (likely) Mike Jackson all entering 2023 with real NFL experience for a grand total of about $5.5 million if they tender Jackson.

$5.5 million.  For your top four corners.  It really illustrates how profitable acquiring and developing young talent can be!

On the defensive line, the Seahawks have not been able to maximize their value as much, with Tyreke Smith and Alton Robinson injured.  Boye Mafe has gotten a healthy share of the snaps, and the Seahawks had to bring in Bruce Irvin to make sure Mafe is not overloaded too quickly and to balance out Uchenna Nwosu’s heavy workload.

I asked if Nwosu was this year’s Benson Mayowa.  A part-timer who will wilt under the pressure of a bigger role and take vital snaps from younger players.  He, thankfully, is not.  He has been an absolute gem of a free-agent find for the Seahawks.

What does the offense look like without Russell Wilson?

Answer:  More complete

I wrote:

“Will the absence of Russell Wilson force them to rely more on the running game? To use the tight ends more and employ more short passing and fly sweep type options that work well with a reformed offensive line?

Being forced into these postures might actually be a good thing, a true ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ moment for the team. As well, with the team free of a quarterback with very strong views about how the offense is run, it might actually help them move away from their ‘all or nothing’ identity on offense.

Time will tell.”

Yes, Past Curtis, time has indeed told.

What a transformation.  The Seahawks have traded the thrill ride of backyard football pyrotechnics from the quarterback for breathtaking runs from their explosive running backs, a decidedly more scheduled offense that does not consistently put strains the defense while still including the fabulously talented wide receiver corps in the mix.

All this while integrating rookie tackles into the offensive line from Week One.

It is worth saying again:  Nobody could have drawn this up in their wildest dreams.  The Seahawks are currently living in the best timeline after years of being seemingly condemned to the dark reaches of utter strangeness and frustration.

Can the Seahawks finally solve the Tight End riddle?

Answer:  Emphatically Yes

The Seahawks as a team are:

Third in the NFL in tight end targets

-Second in the NFL in tight end catches

-Third in the NFL in tight end receiving yards

-Tied for fourth in the NFL in tight end touchdown catches (they’d have more if Ken Walker would quit breaking off 70 yard touchdown runs)

For years, the Seahawk defense has had a particularly play they know is coming and still cannot stop it.  Now finally, the offense has one.

What will the running game look like?

Answer:  Very, very good

Rashaad Penny took a while to get up to speed coming out of the gate.  He had several runs that were ‘thisclose’ to breaking and kept Ken Walker from getting in the game in the early going.

Then the Detroit game happened.  Since then – other than a hard-fought game against the Bucs in Germany – the running game has delivered this year.  Defenses have to constantly be on the watch for explosive runs.

Penny got hurt and Walker stepped in and immediately exploded.  The debate quickly flipped from ‘how can the Seahawks split the reps between their two talented runners?’ to ‘Do the Seahawks even bother to bring Penny back next season?’

There are several good to great running backs eligible for the draft this year.  The discussion about if the Seahawks draft another running back with a high pick is a worthy one.  Particularly if one of the highly-touted players begins to slip down the board due to positional value.

In a way, this year perfectly illustrates the wisdom and potential pitfalls of selecting a running back early.

The very talented Ken Walker struggled to get reps in the offense while Penny was starting.  He then easily took the starting job and produced the minute Penny was hurt.

So, both arguments have merit.

It will be very interesting to see how the NFL and the Seahawks view the running backs in this draft.  

A wildcard:  Would Damien Pierce’s early success as a fourth-round pick push players like Zach Charbonnet and Kenny McIntosh up the board a little?

Can the Seahawks develop this offensive line for 2023 and beyond?

Answer:  Yes — and Damien Lewis has re-entered the future conversation

You know about Lucas and Cross.  The Seahawks have their bookend tackles for the next few years.  Both have that perfect intersection of talent and production right now and room to get so much better in the very near future.

Damien Lewis has started to break through at left guard as well.

I wrote:

“This is a critical season for Lewis. What seemed like a slam-dunk “we’re set at Right Guard for the next 10 years” career track now carries as many question marks as answers. Can he earn that level of confidence at Left Guard? Or has that move stunted his development too much?”

The early part of the year did nothing to answer those questions.  Lately however, Lewis appears settled at left guard.  He currently leads the Seahawk offensive line in PFF score with 71.6 and won his fair share of trench battles with Vita Vea last week.  With 7 games to play, he seems to be on his way toward having his name in the conversation next to Lucas and Cross as the future of the offensive line.

Gabe Jackson appears all but gone, whether it is this year or in the offseason.  Austin Blythe has brought attitude and leadership to the line but not great play.  So, they have questions to address this offseason.  But neither of those questions are at the tackle position.  The Seahawks are set there.

Curtis Allen: Talking through a Geno Smith extension

Thursday, November 24th, 2022

This is a guest article by Curtis Allen…

With Geno Smith giving the Seahawks ten games of fantastic play so far this season, he has made a major step from being a stopgap providing a handful of good games to something more. It is now time to start seriously considering his future with the team beyond this season.

Right at the outset, I would encourage you to read this piece with an open mind and a sober perspective. There are many variables to this situation and the Seahawks have several options. They also have many complex factors to consider.

I would never claim to have all the answers and I seriously doubt NFL General Managers have clear answers at this point either. Survey ten of them on Geno Smith’s prospects for 2023 and you probably wouldn’t get a consensus opinion on how his situation will work out.

What we can do is work through some of the potential options the Seahawks have available to them.

Let’s tackle the hardest question first.

What Will Geno Smith’s Market Value Be?

That is a real challenge. In the modern NFL that is crazy for quarterbacks, Smith’s surge from career backup to star player in his ninth season is not completely without precedent but it is so rare it makes it hard to predict what he will command as a free agent with only one good season to his name at age 32.

Looking at what is out there and gauging for an increase in the 2023 salary cap number, I believe Geno Smith can expect to get a contract between $25 – $32 million per season with about 40-45% of it guaranteed. How did I come up with that range?

There are currently five quarterbacks in the neighborhood of that contract (Tannehill, Ryan, Wentz, Goff, and Cousins). They constitute the lower end of starting quarterbacks that are established on veteran contracts.

Yes, it is easy to look at those players, compare Smith’s numbers this year to theirs and reason that he has been outplaying most of them and therefore deserves more than they are getting. That certainly will be Smith’s agent’s argument.

But two key factors keep his value in check: his body of work and his age.

Smith entered 2022 with a career 58.8% completion percentage and more interceptions than touchdowns. Six full years of little to no activity on the field and only seventeen games as a starter in 2022 make it extremely difficult to project enough success in the next three to four seasons to leverage a contract offer that vaults him into a range of the top 10-15 quarterback salaries.

As for Wentz, Goff, Ryan and even Tannehill — those players are arguments against giving Smith a large contract just as much as they are for him.

Wentz and Goff are the beneficiaries of being extended earlier than they should have in an attempt to get ahead of the exploding market.

The Eagles, Colts and Commanders played ‘hot potato’ with Wentz’ awful contract and he’s currently struggling to get ahead of Taylor Heinicke in Washington.

We know all about Goff. The Rams bought out his fifth-year option early and regretted it. They traded two first-round picks and ate $22 million to get him off their roster and bring Matthew Stafford in. The Lions designed a system around his limitations and have had some success on offense this year. Yet as defenses have adjusted, he has regressed back to being just Jared Goff.

Ryan was the same age that Geno Smith will be next year when he signed his last extension. He had an MVP trophy and a Super Bowl appearance on his resume and had an excellent season in 2018 — but has struggled to keep his pace of play up since then. The Falcons ate $42 million of dead cap and only got a third-round pick in his trade to the Colts.

Tannehill has been battling injuries and has yet to really work through the Titans trading away most of their star wide receivers.

Cousins is the best of the lot but we can all agree he has yet to really elevate the Vikings. He also masterfully played himself into a higher tier of pay with the franchise tag game. You could make a case that his $35 million contract is his ceiling.

So, you see the landscape is littered with expensive contracts that players are not living up to.

However, those players above had two things when they signed their contract extensions that Geno Smith does not: a solid, sustained body of work and all but Ryan were at an age that allowed teams to project a reasonable degree of athletic ability without decline over the course of the contract.

Giving Smith a contract that tops those players at age 33 after seventeen games would be a real shot in the dark. Most owners and general managers would want to leverage their risk by not offering any more than what those quarterbacks are currently making. The length of the deal is a real factor at Smith’s age as well.

Of course, there is always the outlier. The one franchise that outbids everyone and blows the market up (looking at you, Cleveland). I can accept the possibility that some owner or general manager may be so enamored with Geno they may bid against themselves and offer such an uncomfortably high price that the Seahawks may need to just thank Geno for a fantastic season and walk away.

The Seahawks will enter this process with a set range that is reasonable for them and stick to it. In my view, a $25-$32 million AAV contract is that appropriate range for talks.

It may be that – as Rob has suggested – the Seahawks ask Geno Smith to shop the market and bring the best offer back to them in order to see what they can do. Let the market come to them instead of trying to chase it. The factors I mentioned make that a logical plan.

That is a scary proposition for many fans. The thought of bringing back Drew Lock, another veteran or a draft pick and planning for them to be as successful as Smith has been is not a comfortable prospect. Having been pleasantly surprised by this most unexpected season, fans have rightly expressed a ‘let’s keep a good thing going’ groundswell of positivity that naturally extends to wanting to keep Smith on the roster.

Other than negotiating an extension before the new league year begins, there is only one way to do that.

Is the Franchise Tag a Real Option?

The 2023 tag for quarterbacks is projected to be about $31.5 million. That is within the window I mentioned for an agreeable yearly range. Can the Seahawks make that work?

Yes they can. But should they?

It would be fraught with peril.

First off, it would take a significant amount of the Seahawks’ salary cap off the market, at a time where they will need to fill some holes on the roster.

The Seahawks have about $53.8 million of cap space in 2023 currently as projected by OTC. Franchising Smith would take that available number down to $22.3 million. The Seahawks’ large number of draft picks in 2023 makes their rookie pool larger – OTC is projecting about $14 million.

That leaves about $8.3 million left to fill the last 8-10 roster spots and leaves zero cap cushion to tender restricted free agents, fill the practice squad and cover injured players or any incentive money that needs to be counted against the cap.

The Seahawks would need to be very creative to make the franchise tag work. That mostly means cutting and replacing expensive players with cheaper models and hoping the drop-off in play is not commensurate. They would need a very deft touch to make it work for them. They could do it — but it would mean playing closer to the razor’s edge than they have traditionally been comfortable with.

Secondly, the franchise tag brings implications with it. It is fully guaranteed money. It sets the bar for extension negotiations. $31.5 million guaranteed is the starting point. A second tag nets him a 20% raise to $37.8 million fully guaranteed. A request for a $65-70 million guarantee in this year’s negotiations could be put on the table. Again, that may be a bridge too far for the Seahawks.

There is a factor with the tag where his age comes into play again. Players that are franchise tagged typically have a long career ahead of them. Smith might not. Imagine you are a 33-year-old player with $11 million in career NFL earnings (Smith’s number according to OTC). And now you have a chance to earn nearly triple that in just one season – fully guaranteed.

Smith might be truly tempted to not want to negotiate a long-term extension. To take that one season tag and bet on himself. If he has a second very good season on his resume, his bargaining position in the free agent market is vastly strengthened. If he does not, he has in one year boosted his career money from $11 million to $42 million and that is awfully hard to be disappointed about.

You cannot project how placing the tag on Smith will precisely work out. Smith has not been a player the Seahawks have easily re-signed each year. He keeps his own counsel and how he would react after a life-changing season is anything but predictable. The Seahawks could tag him thinking they could get an extension done by July to lower the 2023 cap hit and find themselves stuck.

The risks appear to outweigh the benefits at this moment.

Is it worth the gamble of infringing upon your roster-building freedom to tag him with a fully guaranteed contract for one year of play? It vastly limits your options and makes the margin of error very, very thin.

Not tagging Smith is a gamble. But it is a gamble that the Seahawks are well-advised to strongly consider.

An Extension that Could Work for Both Sides

What would the Seahawks’ goals be in signing Geno to an extension?

Continuity would be a great benefit — and one that they could negotiate on as something that is mutually beneficial.

The upside for Smith staying is just as high as the Seahawks keeping him – he would get to work with two All-Pro quality wide receivers, three solid tight ends, a brilliant running back with fresh legs in Ken Walker and have his back guarded by bookend tackles. All orchestrated by a coach and offensive coordinator that have proven themselves able and willing to maximize his skillset.

It is very hard to see Smith stepping onto another team and having all those factors available to him.

They also want to reward him for a fantastic 2022. The numbers he is delivering thus far, while making a paltry $3.5 million plus incentives, are phenomenal.

As an organization, the Seahawks have done well at awarding results. Signing him to a healthy extension would be a move that continues to underline to the young players that the team rewards strong play no matter where you were drafted or what your previous record of play was.

The public would also welcome the move – particularly in light of the breath of fresh air that Geno and Seahawks have blown through Seattle in the wake of the Russell Wilson trade.

On the flipside, the Seahawks would also need to address the elephant in the room – Geno’s age and the possibility that he had one magical season and could regress in 2023 and beyond.

That and the reality of the upcoming draft. The Seahawks will likely pick very high in 2023 and there are several enticing prospects. Reason and circumstance could dictate that this is their best shot at getting their quarterback of the future.

Both of those factors would strongly argue that the extension, while healthy, should have some potential outs for the Seahawks.

It would also be ideal if the contract includes a 2023 season that is friendly to the cap and allows the team the ability to keep adding necessary pieces.

With those things in mind, here is what I am proposing:

A three-year contract with about 40% guaranteed, with a roster bonus in March 2024.

Since the overall number range is too unknown to absolutely pinpoint it at this time, I used my proposed range of $25 million – $32 million per season and drew up contracts for the high and low numbers:

As you can see, this rewards Geno with a first-year payout of $19-25 million (signing bonus plus guaranteed 2023 salary). He immediately nearly triples his career earnings.

It gives him the security of further guaranteed money in future years, at $12.5-15.5 million in salary.

He gets his franchise tag amount guaranteed and a chunk of money up front, gets to play for an organization that has demonstrated it is invested in his success and the Seahawks get continuity and flexibility.

It provides the Seahawks with room on the 2023 cap, with a cap hit between of $9-11 million. They have room to both add and cut players as they see fit in a critical offseason.

They also now have the option of letting the draft come to them if they like. Instead of desperately paying a king’s ransom for the #1 or #2 pick to fill their quarterback-shaped roster hole, they can either let a premium quarterback fall to them or ignore quarterbacks completely and take the most dynamic player on their board and stock their roster for years to come.

It also provides flexibility for the Seahawks at the quarterback position itself. If they do draft a quarterback in 2023, they can redshirt him and have him ready to take the reins in 2024. It also offers some protection should Smith turn back into a pumpkin in 2023.

Exploring the Benefit of the Roster Bonus

Teams often use the roster bonus as a tool to force both sides back to the table.

Players like it because it can give them either another chunk of change in addition to their signing bonus or their freedom to explore the market.

Teams enjoy the way to gauge player performance and either be free of an underperforming player, or keep the player and have some cap flexibility in their back pocket to free up some cap money. It also gives the team some security, as it further incentivizes good play. A healthy roster bonus can be quite the carrot to keep a player focused.

For both sides, it could be much more than a decision deadline to pay the bonus or not. It could spur a total reworking of the entire contract and provide further benefits, security and flexibility for both sides.

A roster bonus of $18-24 million due in March lets both sides see where they are after a year. The Seahawks then have options.

*If the Seahawks for any reason want to go in another direction, they can cut or trade him before the bonus is due

As you can see, if the Seahawks decide to trade Smith before the roster bonus deadline, there is some dead cap to eat: $10-14 million. The cap savings are very real though: $21-29 million.

A best-case scenario could be spun where the Seahawks draft a top quarterback in 2023 and Smith has a terrific season on the field. The draft pick is ready to start in 2024, the Seahawks offer Smith to a trade partner for a nice draft pick, open up a handsome chunk of cap space and the team trading for Smith gets two years of a solid quarterback for a very reasonable cap hit (the roster bonus and contract could also be reworked by the new team, or the Hawks could pay a chunk of the bonus in exchange for more or better picks in trade).

If the worst happens and need to cut him, you can see it will be costly but there will still be significant cap savings.

If the relationship is still mutually beneficial and they want to continue together after 2023, they can either leave the bonus as is or the Seahawks can have language in the contract that allows them to convert it to a signing bonus and spread the cap hit between 2024 and 2025:

If they split the roster bonus up, they have a very reasonable $22-$31 million cap hit in 2024 for the quarterback position.

And as you can see, if after 2024 they decide to part ways, they can cut Smith and gain $25.5-$31.5 million of cap room.

What About the Dead Cap Money in This Deal?

That is a real concern. However, the contract as constructed gives both the team and the player more than one chance to rework it — with options to ease the cap burden.

But just as is, it would appear that I have set up this contract in every way to accrue dead cap money that is significant somewhere along the line.

I have. That is simply the price you pay for having an excellent quarterback with low early cap hits, a workable amount of risk and some flexibility.

The truth is, if the Seahawks have another great draft, they can afford to spend a little bit of money in this way. They will have rookie contracts with low salaries all over the field contributing greatly and can afford some cap space that is not productive.

Another perspective: The Seahawks have managed to seamlessly go from Russell Wilson to Geno Smith without missing a beat and in some real ways, they’re even better. All without the complete tank job of a rebuilding year.

If they play their cards right they could put themselves in a position to keep progressing with Smith or to find his predecessor and keep the transition far less painful than your standard rebuild would be. Or do both!

With the ever-increasing salary cap and the chance to do something incredibly rare, it is worth the risk. If they were to pull it off, this era could create a very special place among the historically great Seahawks teams. A hit of $15-25 million in dead cap charges would crumble and blow away into the dust of history.

Mock draft — the video version

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2022

This is also available via ‘The Rebuild’ podcast streams

My first 2023 NFL mock draft (two rounds)

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2022

Here it is then. My first two-round mock.

I’ve tried to think outside of the box but be realistic. The unexpected happens every year so just going with ‘predictable’ seems pointless. There are a million mocks out there saying the same thing. What’s the point of me doing that?

A few thoughts before getting into the mock:

1. I think Bijan Robinson, Jalen Carter and Will Anderson will likely be the three players with the highest grades on most boards.

2. A team will select Bijan Robinson in the top-10 because he’ll likely be the consensus best player in the draft.

3. Anthony Richardson at #1 overall will get the most criticism in this mock. His upside, however, is MVP level. There are not many humans who can do what he can do. I suspect teams will see a combination of Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson. Plus he’s worked in something close to a pro-system, where he’s required to make checks and adjustments. As the process goes on, I think Richardson will emerge as a contender to go very early in this draft.

4. I really like Bryce Young. He is immensely talented, creative and seems to have a winners mentality. However, none of us really know how the NFL is going to feel about drafting a 5-10, 185lbs quarterback. This is a first. I suspect, rightly or wrongly, he will last a bit longer than people think due to his size. Especially in a year where he’s suffered an injury — that doesn’t help allay durability concerns.

5. I think Calijah Kancey is going to go a lot earlier than people are projecting.

One big trade

I have the Colts moving from #14 to #3 and likely giving up a haul to do so (two additional firsts) in a deal with the Bears. This will give Chicago the best possible opportunity to build up their roster and it gives the Colts an opportunity to get a much needed long-term answer at quarterback.

Round One

#1 Houston — Anthony Richardson (QB, Florida)
Here’s what I’m projecting. I think they sign Jimmy Garoppolo to a two-year deal. They then draft Richardson with the intention of redshirting him. Frankly, it’s a plan that would make some sense.

#2 Carolina — Will Levis (QB, Kentucky)
Levis is best prepared to come in and start quickly and that is what the Panthers need next year. His upside is Justin Herbert’s level.

#3 Indianapolis (v/CHI) — CJ Stroud (QB, Ohio State)
The Colts have been in no mans land at quarterback for years. I think there’ll be some pressure on Chris Ballard to move up and sort the problem out.

#4 Las Vegas — Jalen Carter (DT, Georgia)
I think he’ll be the first non-quarterback drafted. Since returning from injury he has been unblockable at times. Impressive.

#5 Seattle (v/DEN) — Will Anderson (DE, Alabama)
Anderson has had a disappointing 2022 season and needs to learn how to counter. However, he has immense potential and would give the Seahawks a shot to find a X-factor rusher.

#6 Detroit (v/LAR) — Bijan Robinson (RB, Texas)
Yes, they need a long term answer at quarterback. However, three are gone already and Robinson will top many (most?) draft boards. A team in the top-10 will decide he’s too good to pass up. There’s talk he’s being graded higher than Saquon Barkley. Detroit uses two running backs and D’Andre Swift has had injury issues. Is it controversial? Sure. But it would fit the identity of the coach.

#7 Houston (v/CLE) — Tyree Wilson (DE, Texas Tech)
He has outstanding length (+35 inch arms) and size (275lbs) and when he turns it on he can be incredibly disruptive.

#8 Pittsburgh — Mazi Smith (DT, Michigan)
Smith is going to go to the combine, put on a dazzling performance, and go much earlier than people think. He’s been disruptive all season.

#9 Jacksonville — Michael Mayer (TE, Notre Dame)
Just a quality player who would fit nicely in Doug Pederson’s offense.

#10 Philadelphia (v/NO) — Myles Murphy (DE, Clemson)
An outstanding athlete with great size and an ability to dazzle as a pass rusher. However, his pad-level and run defense are a cause for concern.

#11 Arionza — Quentin Johnston (WR, TCU)
Johnston, at times, looks like a poor-mans Larry Fitzgerald.

#12 Green Bay — Bryce Young (QB, Alabama)
Jordan Love has not convinced anyone in fleeting appearances. The Packers need to start their next era at quarterback. Someone, eventually, will take the chance on Young’s size not being an issue. I think after Aaron Rodgers’ never-ending sulking and drama — they’ll enjoy working with the ultimate pro in Bryce Young.

#13 Detroit — Bryan Bresee (DT, Clemson)
Bresee’s tape has been quite poor at times but there’s no getting away from his enormous upside. He’s another player whose character ‘fits’ the Lions.

#14 Chicago (v/IND) — Darnell Wright (T, Tennessee)
The Bears trade down and collect a haul in the process — then address their biggest need. Wright shut down Will Anderson. He is incredibly underrated.

#15 Atlanta — Calijah Kancey (DT, Pittsburgh)
I get it — nobody is going to be Aaron Donald. Kancey, however, is as close as you’ll ever get to finding another.

#16 LA Chargers — Kelee Ringo (CB, Georgia)
He has amazing size and speed and he’s made some nice plays in 2022. He’s also been beaten too often and needs work to max out his potential.

#17 Washington — Joey Porter Jr (CB, Detroit)
Porter Jr plays with a physical, competitive edge and he would fit Ron Rivera’s team.

#18 NY Jets — Brian Branch (S, Alabama)
He’s a silky smooth chess piece who can also lay a hit from time to time.

#19 Tampa Bay — Jahmyr Gibbs (RB, Alabama)
There’s a noticeable difference when Gibbs isn’t on the field for Alabama. A very exciting player.

#20 Denver (v/SF) — Cam Smith (CB, South Carolina)
A very competitive, well-sized cornerback who can start quickly across from Patrick Surtain.

#21 Seattle — J.L. Skinner (S, Boise State)
He just screams ‘Seahawks’. His size, length, violent hitting, attitude, playmaking qualities. It’s all there. He looks like a leaner Kam Chancellor. I think they’re going to love him and might not risk waiting until round two.

#22 New England — Cedric Tillman (WR, Tennessee)
An elegant bigger receiver and a player New England has seemingly been trying to find for years.

#23 Cincinnati — Paris Johnson Jr (T, Ohio State)
He’s a day-two talent for me but the Bengals have little choice but to keep drafting for their O-line.

#24 Buffalo — Jaxson Smith-Njigba (WR, Ohio State)
You can never have too many weapons and he’d make a good option as a slot receiver. A lack of pure speed could push him into day two.

#25 Baltimore — Christian Gonzalez (CB, Oregon)
A very athletic, talented cornerback who can stick in coverage and make plays.

#26 Tennessee — Jalin Hyatt (WR, Tennessee)
They need speed, quickness and dynamic playmaking and Hyatt’s ability to accelerate and separate at the end of a route is top-level.

#27 Dallas — D.J. Turner (CB, Michigan)
His testing performance will be excellent, securing a likely top-40 placing.

#28 NY Giants — Jordan Addison (WR, USC)
They need a lot of positions but given they’re picking this late in round one, the value might be at receiver.

#29 Miami — forfeited

#30 Minnesota — K.J. Henry (DE, Clemson)
He has been consistently good all year, creating pressure and making plays. A former five-star recruit with superb character.

#31 Kansas City — Mike Morris (DE, Michigan)
I wish he’d play with more urgency at times but he’s big, fast and difficult to block.

#32 Philadelphia — Peter Skoronski (T/G, Northwestern)
He plays left tackle but I prefer him at guard.

Round Two

#33 Houston — Broderick Jones (T/G, Georgia)
Another player I think is better suited to guard but could be tried at tackle first.

#34 Pittsburgh (v/CHI) — Jordan McFadden (T/G, Clemson)
I’m a huge fan of McFadden. What a brilliantly polished, athletic, balanced and consistent player. Despite his lack of orthodox size I think he can stick at tackle or he could become a top-level guard.

#35 Carolina — Jonathan Mingo (WR, Ole Miss)
A tremendous player with fantastic size and quickness and the ability to play out wide or in the slot. Very underrated.

#36 Seattle (v/DEN) — Nolan Smith (LB, Georgia)
Smith’s a tweener and it’ll keep him on the board but he has outstanding character, elite physical tools (141.18 SPARQ) and an ability to play off the edge or at linebacker. That could appeal to the Seahawks as they continue to build up their front seven.

#37 LA Rams — Ji’Ayir Brown (S, Penn State)
He’s a playmaker who collects interceptions, will test well at the combine and he’s the vocal leader of the Penn State team.

#38 Cleveland — B.J. Ojulari (EDGE, LSU)
Long, lean, disruptive, capable of dropping if needed and wears #18 (a sign of high character at LSU).

#39 Pittsburgh — Byron Young (DE, Alabama)
I love Byron Young. He makes plays every week. A classic AFC North player.

#40 Jacksonville — Zay Flowers (WR, Boston College)
Keep adding weapons for Trevor Lawrence.

#41 Las Vegas — Isaiah Foskey (EDGE, Notre Dame)
He’s had a decent season and he’s the kind of defender Belichick takes. This is a very New England influenced setup in Vegas.

#42 Green Bay — Christopher Smith (S, Georgia)
This feels like a good match for player and scheme. Smith is rangy, physical and can close and hit.

#43 New Orleans — Kyu Blu Kelly (CB, Stanford)
On a struggling Cardinal team he competes and consistently makes plays.

#44 Detroit — Trenton Simpson (LB, Clemson)
He’s had a disappointing 2022 season but his athletic profile is top-notch and he has special qualities.

#45 Arizona — John Michael Schmitz (C, Minnesota)
A great big brawling center who sets the tone up front.

#46 Indianapolis — Olu Fashanu (T, Penn State)
I think he’s red raw but his size and potential will intrigue some.

#47 Atlanta — Will McDonald (DE, Iowa State)
A praying mantis of a pass rusher with elite physical tools but almost no consistent technique other than a violent spin move. Having a poor 2022 season.

#48 LA Chargers — Keeanu Benton (DT, Wisconsin)
They’re still not plugging gaps up the middle and Benton gives them a chance to add some size, disruption and anchor.

#49 Washington — Drew Sanders (LB, Arkansas)
A multi-faceted linebacker who can reduce down and rush the edge situationally.

#50 NY Jets — Joe Tippmann (C, Wisconsin)
Tippmann will test off the charts at the combine and his combination of explosive power and agility will interest teams like the Jets who value athleticism up front.

#51 Tampa Bay — Cooper Beebe (G, Kansas State)
Big, physical, mobile for his size and gets after it. I love a bit of Beebe.

#52 Carolina (v/SF) — Josh Downs (WR, North Carolina)
A combination of Tyler Lockett and Golden Tate.

#53 New England — Antonio Johnson (S, Texas A&M)
A bit overrated for me but I can see why his size and range will appeal to some teams.

#54 Cincinnati — Luke Musgrave (TE, Oregon State)
A brilliant combine will set the stage for second round talk surrounding the extremely talented Musgrave who does everything well.

#55 Seattle — Zach Charbonnet (RB, UCLA)
Seahawks twitter will go nuts if they take another second round runner but here’s the thing — Seattle has re-established its identity and they need depth and talent at running back. Charbonnet is a fantastic player with amazing feet, size, finishing ability and pass-catching qualities.

#56 Buffalo — Kenny McIntosh (RB, Georgia)
He just seems like a great fit for what they do and is a more natural RB1 type compared to James Cook.

#57 Tennessee — Dalton Kincaid (TE, Utah)
I love this fit and he could provide an immediate X-factor for the Titans. Kincaid just makes plays every week and the block he made to spring a touchdown against Oregon at the weekend was first class.

#58 Dallas — Kayshon Boutte (WR, LSU)
He’s had a stinking 2022 season but Dallas often likes to roll the dice on a fallen star.

#59 NY Giants — Bryce Ford-Wheaton (WR, West Virginia)
A big target with untapped potential and an outstanding physical profile.

#60 Chicago (v/BAL) — Jaelyn Duncan (T, Maryland)
They clearly need to start repairing their O-line.

#61 Miami — O’Cyrus Torrence (G, Florida)
I’m not a huge fan and grade him lower than this but there’s a lot of buzz that he’ll go early.

#62 Detroit (v/MIN) — Darnell Washington (TE, Georgia)
Another player I just think fits what the Lions want to do. He’s like another offensive lineman on the field given his ridiculous size.

#63 Kansas City — Zacch Pickens (DT, South Carolina)
He plays in fits and starts and his stamina can be questioned but there’s no mistaking he can be disruptive.

#64 Philadelphia — Kris Abrams-Draine (CB, Missouri)
Good in coverage, good tackler — this would be sound value for the Eagles.

The mock draft in list form:

#1 Houston — Anthony Richardson (QB, Florida)
#2 Carolina — Will Levis (QB, Kentucky)
#3 Indianapolis (v/CHI) — CJ Stroud (QB, Ohio State)
#4 Las Vegas — Jalen Carter (DT, Georgia)
#5 Seattle (v/DEN) — Will Anderson (DE, Alabama)
#6 Detroit (v/LAR) — Bijan Robinson (RB, Texas)
#7 Houston (v/CLE) — Tyree Wilson (DE, Texas Tech)
#8 Pittsburgh — Mazi Smith (DT, Michigan)
#9 Jacksonville — Michael Mayer (TE, Notre Dame)
#10 Philadelphia (v/NO) — Myles Murphy (DE, Clemson)
#11 Arionza — Quentin Johnston (WR, TCU)
#12 Green Bay — Bryce Young (QB, Alabama)
#13 Detroit — Bryan Bresee (DT, Clemson)
#14 Chicago (v/IND) — Darnell Wright (T, Tennessee)
#15 Atlanta — Calijah Kancey (DT, Pittsburgh)
#16 LA Chargers — Kelee Ringo (CB, Georgia)
#17 Washington — Joey Porter Jr (CB, Detroit)
#18 NY Jets — Brian Branch (S, Alabama)
#19 Tampa Bay — Jahmyr Gibbs (RB, Alabama)
#20 Denver (v/SF) — Cam Smith (CB, South Carolina)
#21 Seattle — J.L. Skinner (S, Boise States)
#22 New England — Cedric Tillman (WR, Tennessee)
#23 Cincinnati — Paris Johnson Jr (T, Ohio State)
#24 Buffalo — Jaxson Smith-Njigba (WR, Ohio State)
#25 Baltimore — Christian Gonzalez (CB, Oregon)
#26 Tennessee — Jalin Hyatt (WR, Tennessee)
#27 Dallas — D.J. Turner (CB, Michigan)
#28 NY Giants — Jordan Addison (WR, USC)
#29 Miami — forfeited
#30 Minnesota — K.J. Henry (DE, Clemson)
#31 Kansas City — Mike Morris (DE, Michigan)
#32 Philadelphia — Peter Skoronski (T/G, Northwestern)

#33 Houston — Broderick Jones (T/G, Georgia)
#34 Pittsburgh (v/CHI) — Jordan McFadden (T/G, Clemson)
#35 Carolina — Jonathan Mingo (WR, Ole Miss)
#36 Seattle (v/DEN) — Nolan Smith (LB, Georgia)
#37 LA Rams — Ji’Ayir Brown (S, Penn State)
#38 Cleveland — B.J. Ojulari (EDGE, LSU)
#39 Pittsburgh — Byron Young (DE, Alabama)
#40 Jacksonville — Zay Flowers (WR, Boston College)
#41 Las Vegas — Isaiah Foskey (EDGE, Notre Dame)
#42 Green Bay — Christopher Smith (S, Georgia)
#43 New Orleans — Kyu Blu Kelly (CB, Stanford)
#44 Detroit — Trenton Simpson (LB, Clemson)
#45 Arizona — John Michael Schmitz (C, Minnesota)
#46 Indianapolis — Olu Fashanu (T, Penn State)
#47 Atlanta — Will McDonald (DE, Iowa State)
#48 LA Chargers — Keeanu Benton (DT, Wisconsin)
#49 Washington — Drew Sanders (LB, Arkansas)
#50 NY Jets — Joe Tippmann (C, Wisconsin)
#51 Tampa Bay — Cooper Beebe (G, Kansas State)
#52 Carolina (v/SF) — Josh Downs (WR, North Carolina)
#53 New England — Antonio Johnson (S, Texas A&M)
#54 Cincinnati — Luke Musgrave (TE, Oregon State)
#55 Seattle — Zach Charbonnet (RB, UCLA)
#56 Buffalo — Kenny McIntosh (RB, Georgia)
#57 Tennessee — Dalton Kincaid (TE, Utah)
#58 Dallas — Kayshon Boutte (WR, LSU)
#59 NY Giants — Bryce Ford-Wheaton (WR, West Virginia)
#60 Chicago (v/BAL) — Jaelyn Duncan (T, Maryland)
#61 Miami — O’Cyrus Torrence (G, Florida)
#62 Detroit (v/MIN) — Darnell Washington (TE, Georgia)
#63 Kansas City — Zacch Pickens (DT, South Carolina)
#64 Philadelphia — Kris Abrams-Draine (CB, Missouri)

Seattle’s picks:

#5 Will Anderson (DE, Alabama)
#21 J.L. Skinner (S, Boise State)
#36 Nolan Smith (LB, Georgia)
#55 Zach Charbonnet (RB, UCLA)

With this collection of players, the Seahawks add talent to their defense. The front seven is bolstered and they add physicality to the secondary. Charbonnet provides a fantastic one-two punch with Ken Walker. The four picks add to the identity of the team and put the Seahawks in a position to take on any opponent.

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