2019 draft: Early projections for 30 prospects

The stated aim in the off-season was to fix the run. It’s fixed. The offensive line is a team strength and looks terrific. The Seahawks offense is physical and explosive. It’s fair to wonder whether they would benefit from another dynamic target. Generally though, this is a unit they can win with.

The defense will need some help going forward.

That’s where the 2019 draft comes in.

We’ve said it so many times already — this is going to be a fantastic defensive line class. We could see a record number of front seven defenders taken in the first round. It’ll be the clear strength of the draft. The Seahawks, wherever they pick in round one, should be able to find a defensive linemen or linebacker they like.

With money to spend in free agency we could see an off-season plan like this:

1. Re-sign Frank Clark

No wonder it’s been the reported priority. Clark is showing he’s worthy of keeping. He’s developing into a leader to match fantastic production and consistency. He’s a must-keep and a new deal seems inevitable.

2. At least one free agent splash

To me, Jadeveon Clowney remains the most appealing option. He’s a freakish athlete with true game-breaking ability. If you’re going to spend, pay someone with the potential to be great. Yes he’s had some injury issues — but you’d hope to create a dynamic rotation. Clowney doesn’t even turn 26 until late February.

3. Spend your first pick on a front seven defender

This could be a linebacker depending on what happens with K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks. Ideally Wright returns quickly and finishes the year strongly, or Kendricks avoids jail and you keep one if not both. If that happens you can focus on an interior pass rusher or someone with great speed to rush the EDGE. It feels like that’s something that’s missing. Speed. Someone with that great 1.5 10-yard split. A combination of Clark, Clowney, Rasheem Green and then some speed — that’d be a killer rotation. The elusive interior rush-threat would also provide a major boost.

We’re well into the college football season now so here are my October gradings for 30 players. Notice the sheer number of possible options to fill the needs discussed above.

Early first round

Nick Bosa (DE, Ohio State)
Clelin Ferrell (DE, Clemson)
Ed Oliver (DT, Houston)
Devin White (LB, LSU)
Christian Wilkins (DT, Clemson)
Brian Burns (DE, Florida State)

For me these are the standouts so far and the players most likely to go early in round one (top-10 range)

In a year without a highly touted quarterback prospect, Nick Bosa has to be the favourite to go #1 overall. Bosa, Clelin Ferrell and Ed Oliver would be potential top-five picks in any draft class. Devin White was recruited as an ‘athlete’ by LSU with a 122.19 SPARQ rating (the highest of the ‘athletes’ tested). He’s a class-act and a pillar of consistency. Christian Wilkins is somehow underrated by some but his play, personality and expected combine performance should secure a place near the top of round one. Brian Burns warrants such a high mark. He’s been unstoppable at times — with great length, quickness and production (seven sacks, 9.5 TFL’s).

Good chance of the first round

Steven Montez (QB, Colorado)
Dexter Lawrence (DT, Clemson)
Raekwon Davis (DT, Alabama)
David Edwards (T, Wisconsin)
Jachai Polite (DE, Florida)

This group could go very early but I’m listing them as ‘expected first round prospects’ based on what I’ve seen so far

Quarterback Steven Montez is the real deal. Great size, mobility, deep accuracy and he can innovate. He’s elevating Colorado to a new level. He’s a first round talent and the clear #1 quarterback prospect. Dexter Lawrence is a monster — an athletic nose tackle who could work his way into the top-12. You’d like to see a bit more production from Raekwon Davis but he has Calais Campbell size with a little more quickness. David Edwards is the best offensive line prospect albeit strictly as a right tackle. Jachai Polite is an X-factor player and one to watch for Seattle. He’s extremely quick and relentless and LSU double teamed him all day on Sunday. Polite still made plays.

First round potential

D’Andre Walker (LB, Georgia)
Derrick Brown (DT, Auburn)
Rashan Gary (DE, Michigan)
Dre’Mont Jones (DT, Ohio State)
Damien Harris (RB, Alabama)
Greg Little (T, Ole Miss)

This group are a notch below the second tier but still have a really good chance to go in the first round

D’Andre Walker is fantastic. Really aggressive, quick to the ball and a top candidate to play SAM/LEO. Derrick Brown is also a physical presence albeit inside. His best football is yet to come. Rashan Gary flatters to deceive sometimes but there’s no doubting his physical potential. Dre’Mont Jones has really flashed as a pass rusher this season. Damien Harris is a long time favourite a complete running back. Greg Little is the next best offensive lineman after the superb David Edwards.

Possible top-50

Kaden Smith (TE, Stanford)
Isaiah Buggs (DE, Alabama)
Austin Bryant (DE, Clemson)
Zach Allen (DE, Boston College)
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (CB/S, Florida)
Josh Allen (LB, Kentucky)
Greedy Williams (CB, LSU)
Joe Jackson (DE, Miami)
A.J. Brown (WR, Ole Miss)
Taylor Rapp (S, Washington)
Bryce Love (RB, Stanford)
Jerry Tillery (DT, Notre Dame)
Benny Snell Jr (RB, Kentucky)

This group could go in the first round but the top-50 is very possible

It’s not a good year for tight ends again but Kaden Smith has a chance to go in round one. He’s a big, athletic target and a capable blocker. Isaiah Buggs has the size to play the run superbly but has also been a pass rush terror so far (six sacks, 6.5 TFL’s). Austin Bryant completes the big-name Clemson quartet but he’s had a quieter last couple of games. Zach Allen is really quick for his size and is having a great season. Testing will be key for him.

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson has switched from free safety to the nickel this year and he had a tremendous game against LSU on Saturday. He could play either position at the next level. Josh Allen has made a lot of plays for Kentucky (10.5 TFL’s) but his testing results will determine how early he goes as a 3-4 rusher. Greedy Williams looks the part but isn’t quite the finished article. Joe Jackson is quietly making a lot of plays for Miami.

A.J. Brown is a real weapon for Ole Miss but it’s hard to shake his 27.5 inch vertical at the SPARQ combine. He’ll need to do better in the pro version. Taylor Rapp and Greg Gaines are both really fun to watch on the Washington defense. Bryce Love is an electric runner but can he handle a big workload at his size? Keep an eye on Benny Snell Jr at Kentucky — he’s really good. Jerry Tillery is having a big year as a disruptive interior force for Notre Dame (nine TFL’s).

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  1. Aaron

    Any inside/out rushers to keep an eye out for? I feel like we need both an edge and an inside/out rusher in FA or the draft.

    • Rob Staton

      Ferrell might be able to play some inside/out but he’ll go too early. To me the best options appear to be pure DE’s rather than inside/out types.

      • Aaron

        Thanks Rob. Given that information, a play for Clowney seems very likely to me unless the Texans want to keep him. He seems like a guy who could do some inside/out rushing the passer.

        • GerryG

          Not sure Houston can afford Clowney/Watt. That’s a boatload to put into one position group.

          • red

            Texans have 93mil of cap space for 2019, I think he most likely stays. Aaron Lynch might be interesting will be 26 there could be 8-10 sacks a season in him. Dee Ford will be 28 has been great 4 sacks and 13 qb hits in 5 games. I wonder if price declines on 30+ pass rushers if Seahawks become interested.

            • Rob Staton

              Lynch is unhinged and Ford just not very good. For me the Seahawks need to go big or go home. They need a game wrecker.

            • GerryG

              93million?!?! Holy smokes!!!

              Never mind.

              • red

                via arrowhead pride

                Another week, another excellent game for edge rusher Dee Ford, (81.7 PFF Overall Grade) as he totaled seven pressures against the Jaguars (1 Sack, 4 QB Hits and 2 QB Hurries.) Ford now has 29 total pressures as an edge rusher on the season, the most in the NFL among edge rushers.

                • Rob Staton

                  Alternatively, this is his fifth season in the league. And he’s on pace to have +4 sacks for only the second time.

        • MyChestIsBeastmode

          Any guesstimates of what a Clowney contract would look like? Highest paid linemen? Avg of top 5 paid linemen? $15-20million per year seems realistic.

          Last I saw, the Hawks have $60mil next year. Spit-balling here, but I’d love to hear your thoughts if these #’s per year seem in the ballpark for what we’d expect to pay to keep some of these players around.
          Clark $13+mil
          Fluker $6-9mil
          Sweezy? $5-7mil
          KJ 7-8mil
          Reed extension 8-12mil (7.5-10.5 additional against the cap)
          Bwagz Extension 10+mil (1-3 additional against the cap)
          Wilson :/ $28-30+mil (5-10 additional against the cap)
          Coleman 6-8mil???
          Kendricks (if not in jail) $5mil

          That’s $65mil right there. Hopefully I’m grossly overestimating. Obviously a few of these guys may not be with us creating more cap. And there could always be some moving of funds around to future years to free up space. I hope Pocic and Quem Griffin pan out so we can avoid paying Sweezy and KJ (though I really like them too – just for cap purposes).

          • Rob Staton

            In fairness, I think you have grossly overestimated some of these amounts.

          • GoHawksDani

            Fluker is 6 mil max. He’s good, but had/has some injuries and previously didn’t do much. Sweezy is 3 mil tops, he’s really a hit or miss player, and I don’t think there’ll be a big market for him.
            I might get a sh.tstorm, but I don’t think we should re-sign KJ. Injuries and getting old. If we didn’t re-sign Earl, Bennett, Sherm (OK, they’re troublemakers too), then we should go for young (FA or more likely draft). I’d love Kendricks, but I don’t think he’ll be available.
            I’m fine Clark getting a 13-14 mil contract.
            I’m not sure Reed should get anything over 8 mil. He had some really good moves and some solid games. And he definitely has potential. Need to see how much he plays this year, and his playing level against run and his plays as a rusher.
            Please, no, god no, please… don’t give Russ that kind of extension. 22-25 mil tops.
            Coleman will need around 8-9 mil

            So in my opinion it’ll be around 48 mil

  2. SoCal12

    We’re very fortunate that this class is so strong in a position of need for us. I truly believe we are a good free agent and draft pick away from being an elite defense again.

    I’m curious what we’re going to do about our lack of draft capital though. Trading down seems like the most likely option since this class is so deep. Could trade, but there’s no one I see on our roster that I would really trade (and before anyone says it, miss me with that trade Russ/Wagner armchair GM shit).

    So I guess the question I have is, assuming we’re picking somewhere in the middle like 15, would we rather stay there and go after a higher tier prospect like a Wilkins, Davis, Gary etc. or trade down a few spots and try and nab whatever falls to us like an Austin Bryant or Joe Jackson? I personally am leaning on just grabbing quality over quantity but PCJS seem to go the opposite and pick a lot of ‘their guys’.

    • Mark Souza

      Not sure I agree. I think with the lack of draft picks we need to delve deeper into free agency than we normally do to make up the shortfall. For the draft, we are getting close to something special with this team. We need quality, not quantity. I would be in favor of staying where we are for the first two picks and getting someone special rather than trading down to bring in more bodies.

      • Mark Souza

        I should have read down further, SoCal. I think we’re pretty much on the same page.

  3. SackFly

    I completely agree on Clowney being the high-priced free agent option we should go after the hardest. The fact that he is so young is immensely appealing. He has by far the best chance to be elite (if he isn’t already), out of all the available options in this years crop of free agents.

    One name I’d like to see the Seahawks potentially take a flier on, since they seem to really like high-draft-pedigree pass rusher reclamation projects, is Dante Fowler Jr.. I think he could be had at a relatively low price, depending on how he finishes up this year. I know there were even rumors of the Jags cutting/trading him at some point earlier this year too.

    Bottom line is, there is an almost astonishingly easy path for the Seahawks to have an ELITE front seven next year. Whether it be through the draft, re-signings, free agency, or a combination of all three, the front seven has a chance to be special in a years time. I think it would be a massive missed opportunity if we don’t significantly invest in that area of the field, given our cap situation and the resources that are available.

    • Volume12

      Did you happen to see the BC vs Temple game from a week ago Rob? Zach Allen was dominant.

      In the 2 games I’ve seen of BC this year he’s much improved from a year ago and he was really good last year.

    • McZ

      If Mychal Kendricks becomes available by miracle, we should keep him.
      We need help at edge, and Brandon Graham already is elite.

  4. Dale Roberts

    Two questions Rob. First what do you expect Clowney’s price to be? Second, what’s your take on Ben Burr-Kirven?

  5. Dale Roberts

    Two questions Rob. First, what do you expect Clowney’s price to be? Second, what’s your take on Ben Burr-Kirven and his place in the draft?

    • SackFly

      Pure speculation here, but I’d be stunned if Clowney doesn’t get something right on par with Mack. Maybe less total money, but close to equal AAV. Even with the injuries and slight inconsistencies, he’s gonna be highly, highly coveted. I just hope we’re the team that pays up.

  6. Isaac

    I’ve seen several articles that have Hassan reddick being released by a the cardinals at some point. He just hasn’t fit their defense and could be an intriguing pick up.

    • SoCal12

      I remember him being a blog favorite here a couple years back. Will be interesting to see what they do with him. I don’t know if they’d straight up release a first round pick from two years ago like that. I’m seeing trade rumors, which I think is more likely. Not sure I’d trade for him unless the price is really low though.

      • GerryG

        We don’t have any draft capital to trade, nor a player that would make a fair trade (have to be a former high draft pick with high up side and 2-3 years of rookie contract)

    • SackFly

      If the Cardinals do release him, and the Seahawks by some miracle are able to sign him, I would be doing backflips. He has been pretty frustrating in his short career so far but that would be such a low-risk high-reward signing IMO. A trade would obviously be less appealing but it all depends on price. Seeing as we have next to zero draft capital this year, I doubt we’d be the team to pull the trigger. But MAN was he good leading up to the 2017 Draft.

    • MyChestIsBeastMode

      That would be pretty shocking. Hassan was rock solid on tape and combine. It’s crazy how some of the surest things fizzle sometimes. He’d look real good in Wolf Gray 🙂

  7. Steve

    I was wonder about Ben Burr-Kirven also. He super productive, but seems too light for the box and a little lost in space. Is he an example of a good college player that might end up a special teams guy in the pros?

    • Matt

      I’m not Rob, obviously, but I’m a die hard UW fan.

      BBK is your typical overachiever whose stats do not tell the story of what kind of LBer he is. He could be a nice special teams player but I don’t see a guy who will ever start in the NFL. For a light LB, he’s not very fast. He gets a ton of tackles, most of which are of the “gets dragged for an extra few yards types.”

      He will flash brilliant plays…but those are offset by multiple times where a slot WR will wash him out of a play (blocking). Utah game stuck out to me, big time. He had 2 great, great plays. He also had a handful of plays where a 5’8″ slot wr (Covey) completely dominated blocking him out of plays. That is wholly unacceptable from an LB.

      Bottom line – he will probably be in the NFL for 8 years bc he’s a try hard, do the right thing guy. He’s just doesn’t have the physicality to be successful. You’d expect a guy of his size to be able to run and cover…but you don’t see that out of him.

      • McZ

        If that happens to be the opinion of most draft pundits, we are looking at a late round gem like Dissly.

  8. icb12

    Anyone feel like Penny’s lack of snaps last night might have been partly because of his poor pass pro and the defensive front that they were facing??

    Combined with of course, 2 experienced backs coming off good games and running well during the game.

    I’m not worried or joining the “penny bust” crowd. Just pondering.

    • MyChestIsBeastMode

      Both your points are probably true. No worries from me though as long as someone is out there churning out 100+ yards with 6 yard per carry. He can take as long as he needs to sharpen his game in the meantime. Plus, Carson just looks like a boss out there. Unless Carson gets hurt, Penny may always struggle to take a piece of his pie.

      Next year though, I can’t imagine we keep Davis (unless the price is right). I could see the Carson/Penny 1-2 punch in full effect by then.

  9. Omar

    I see some Takk McKinley in Polite. Looks like a great prospect. But Rob do you think the Seahawks would go after Clowney in free agency if they drafted a DE and resign Clark?

    • cha

      Free agency comes before the draft, so they’d have to decide on Clark & Clowney first.

    • Rob Staton


  10. Nathan

    Really don’t think Clowney is realistic.

    Someone will blow the doors off with an offer.

    • GerryG

      They have cap space and are in need of talent/pass rush.

      Their draft capital is so limited they practically have to trade down again.

      They have not shied away from high cost investments in the past (Harvin, Graham). It’s not completely unrealistic to spend big on a 26 yr former #1.

    • Pickering

      I think the 49ers will be at the head of the queue.

    • AlaskaHawk

      I’m not sure why everyone is so anxious to add an overpriced, injury prone player to the roster. We just went through this with last years injured players and the team is still recovering. Lots of dead cap space and only half their draft picks for 2019. Just chill out and let the team reset.

      • Rob Staton

        You still need quality.

  11. Darnell

    I’d definitely add Deionte Thompson to the first round watch list.

  12. Trevor

    My Canadian boy David Onyemata is becoming a beast for the Saints. Wish he was in a Hawks uni.

    • Darnell

      Pretty good representation in the league right now for Canadian college guys. Hicks (Regina), Onyemata (Manitoba), LDT (McGill), Shepherd (SFU). I think there may be more too.

      • Trevor

        +1 there are some other guys like Luke Willson etc as well. Nice to see.

  13. drewdawg11

    Rob, I notice you haven’t mentioned anything about Oregon QB Justin Herbert. Most think he’s going to be the top QB taken. I think he’s talented as anyone, but can he win the big games? Also, can he stay healthy? 6’6”, 230 lbs and a rocket arm, athletic. I’m hoping he has a terrible game this Saturday, however.

  14. Trevor

    My top 5 targets for the Hawks in this draft so far
    – Brian Burns
    – Christian Wilkins
    -Devin White
    – Jaquai Polite
    – Roquan Davis

    Any of these front seven guys would be incredible additions to this young defense.

    I love the Clowney idea but I think he could get a crazy $ offer.

    A realistic option might be Ziggy Anzah as the big $ free agent speed rusher to play opposite Frank. Then sign a guy like Dante Fowler or David Irving on a low risk one year prove it deal. Both guys have elite talent with major off field issues but might be worth the risk in a situation like this. Then draft Wilkins or Davis as that young interior pass rusher to go with Reed.

    • Darnell

      I kinda like Preston Smith as a free agent too.

    • Matt

      I love the idea of Devin White, especially if we get a pass rusher or 2 in FA.

      I think LB is a truly underrated need and White is plug and play for a decade. Would ease the pressure off re-signing Bobby Wagner in his 30s.

  15. DC

    2019 projected salary cap space fwiw;
    (3) Houston with $93,467,832
    (8) Seattle with $63,393,414

    • red

      Cam 13mil -5mil dead- 8mil cap saving $71,393,414

      • DC

        Kam is on the books for $13M in 2019 & $14.5M in 2020. Idk if Seattle can get any relief from that contract.

        • 80SLargent

          Like Red said, the team is on the hook for Kam at $5M (prorated signing bonus $2.5M X 2) for 2019.


          Add whatever roll over from this season, and whatever they might do that could make more room, Seattle has a bunch of cap space coming to them. Along with that, they do have a lot of expiring contracts and holes to fill. It should be interesting to see what they do and who they’ll get.

    • H

      That sums it up for me really, i cant see Houston letting him go.
      Count me in for Fowler though.

      • Glor

        We need to resign a lot of guys for next year also.. (Fluker, Sweezy, Kendricks, etc)

        I really don’t understand why we are still paying for Mallik? How are we on the hook for his salary when he never even showed up?

  16. KD

    This is a really weird year for the Heisman. So far the two front runners are Grier and Tagovailoa. For me, the Heisman goes to the most dominant player in CFB. I’m sorry, but I just don’t see those guys as being dominating players.

    This feels like a dead year for the Heisman so far where these is no dominating player, just a few guys putting up amazing stats.

    • Eli

      Gotta disagree with you on Tua. Dude is averaging 15 yards per passing attempt and completing passes at a 75% clip. 18 TD’s and 0 INT’s. His last game he completed only 10 passes for like 330+ yards, which is just stupid.

  17. KD

    Question for Rob:

    Seahawks spent the offseason pledging to fix the run. Offense is starting to charge now that hey are running the ball. Is the next step in the evolution of the Hawks offense to find their own version of julio Jones, Antonio Brown, AJ Green, at al? In other words, find that dominating WR who can be a true #1 WR

    • Rob Staton

      I don’t think so. As we saw when they won the SB, they did it with Tate, Baldwin and Kearse. So probably not a priority. And they’ve had bad experiences targeting big name targets (Harvin, Graham). Might be a situation where they’ll take an opportunity if it arises, but more likely to try and develop WR’s than go big at the position.

      • Nick

        This is especially true with the development of David Moore. A WR trio of Lockett, Baldwin, and Moore is more than enough firepower for this offense.

    • McZ

      I think, with Baldwin, Lockett and Moore, we are settled for a year or two.
      A Baldwin-replacement needs to be in the 2020 cards.

  18. McGruff

    Where would Greg Gaines be in this?

    • Rob Staton

      Hard to say. Testing will be key for him. He’s really good though.

  19. Kenny Sloth

    New pod up on soundcloud

  20. JJ

    When will the national media stop mocking us an Offensive Lineman in the first round? So tired of it. Lazy analysis.

    • Rob Staton

      Especially given it’s suddenly a unit of strength!

      • Matt

        DJ Fluker needs to have his trip extended in Seattle by several years. Man…he is fun to watch. Sweazy looks amazing too. It’s actually a fun group to watch when they move forward. Just maulers.

        • Rob Staton

          Fluker has been a revelation. Hope he stays healthy and gets an extension. Ditto Sweezy.

  21. Kenny Sloth

    Rob, your comments on the atmosphere at Wembley has me thinking:
    Why doesnt the NFL ever play in Germany? Certainly Westfalonstadion would have a more familiar atmosphere to an American sport.

    And honestly there are cooler stadiums in England too!

    We dont got no Craven Cottage round these parts.

    • Rob Staton

      Germany would be a great idea. I suspect they want to focus on one area. Plus there’s probably a money reason.

      • Kenny Sloth

        What a middle finger to English NFL fans though

  22. GoHawksDani

    As for FAs, I’d be interested in these guys (doesn’t follow other teams much, so only based on stats, age and contract)

    Passrushers (DE/DT/OLB):
    Dante Fowler Jr -> Really young, cheaper than the really big names, seems productive (13 sacks and 2 FF in 2 seasons and this one)

    Clowney -> Pro: Really good, high potential, Cons: Too much money (probably 16+ mil), injury questions

    Lawrence -> sportac says he’ll probably go a bit cheaper than Clowney (14 mil). Last year he was a game-wrecker, and so far it seems he won’t slow down. (last year 14,5 sacks, this year 5,5 so far). Still young, but he only kicked into second gear last year, so a bit risky if that’ll be his standard, or that was just a positive spike

    Safeties (if T2 is not that good):
    HaHa Clinton-Dix -> I love this guy…maybe it’s because of his name… 😀 In 5 seasons (counting this fraction of a season too) he had 372 tackles, 5,5 sacks, 2 FF, 14 ints (!), still really young (25), but probably won’t come cheap. I guess around 11 mil is reasonable

    Landon Collins -> Young, productive (4 sacks, always 100+ tackles, 8 int, 2 FF in his 3 full seasons). Won’t be cheap, but not that pricey either (8-10 mil I guess)

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