Month: April 2022 (Page 1 of 4)

The Seahawks had the draft they needed to have

The rebuild begins with a bang

A week ago I wrote a list of ‘draft rules and aims’ for the Seahawks.

It included:

— Improve the trenches
— Don’t hole-fill
— Build to be the kind of team you want to be
— Be prepared to shoot for the stars at #9
— Be patient at quarterback (aka don’t draft one from this class)
— An unsexy draft is OK

All ticked off. Mission accomplished.

(They didn’t draft a Georgia defender though, shame)

Despite Pete Carroll’s protestations, this is a rebuild. You simply cannot move on from so many players — Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, Duane Brown, D.J. Reed, Carlos Dunlap — and not see it that way.

It might not be an expansion franchise-level build. It’s still significant. It called for a very deliberate and specific approach to the draft.

This was a foundational class full of building blocks in the trenches. Tapping into that to construct the foundation of your future team had to be the aim.

This also wasn’t the year to go chasing a quarterback. It was a class full of third rounders. How many times did we say that? We even had a long interview with Scot McCloughan spelling it out.

You were never going to find your next franchise quarterback among this group. Instead of feeling obliged to rush out and try to find a Wilson replacement who likely wasn’t any better than Drew Lock — and probably would’ve been worse — the Seahawks showed great restraint.

They went about building their structure. Two high picks on offensive tackles. Two picks on pass rushers. Two picks on cornerbacks. Two on receivers.

Premium positions — all of them.

The areas where you need to be strong in order to succeed — addressed.

And look — who’s to say that they drafted the right players or that these prospects will amount to anything? Who knows?

I’ve always felt, however, that as a fan all you can hope for, really, is to understand the plan. Have faith in the plan. The Seahawks sent the message that they know this is going to take some time and they needed to build from the front.

That’s refreshing and reassuring.

It’s also what they need to do to create the kind of team they want to be. There’s been a slightly awkward clash of philosophies in recent years as Carroll tried to instil his vision and accommodate a franchise quarterback who quite rightly expected a big say too.

Now, though, Carroll is in a position to build the kind of roster he feels is necessary. And whether you agree that he should have that power or not — that’s not the point. The only thing worse than having a Head Coach you don’t believe in any more is having a Head Coach who has lost all sense of identity and vision.

So while ‘Seahawks Twitter’ went about having a good moan after Seattle picked a running back in round two — I was completely comfortable with it. Not just because Kenneth Walker is a really good player — but also because Carroll needs a top runner for this to work. We’ve seen the stark difference in performance when his team can and can’t run the ball well.

He hasn’t been able to rely on Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson to stay healthy. Now he’s taken a player who can potentially drive this team on.

Walker carried Michigan State to unexpected success in 2021.

It may or may not work. We’ll find out. I understand the plan though. Frankly I also believe in it too. They’ve built up their lines. They’re now better placed to rush the passer, run the football and pass protect.

That is a good thing.

The three top picks headline everything of course. I think it’s interesting to look at how they were graded and marked.

I wasn’t a huge Charles Cross fan personally but appreciate the thought process and acknowledge others rated him a lot higher than I did.

Many people graded him among the best players in the draft and I never did. I wasn’t alone. Daniel Jeremiah only ranked him as the 22nd best player in the draft.

As I wrote after the first round, I think a lot of teams ‘settled’ on players. It wasn’t a draft with a great top-10 or even top-20. There were some solid players, some risky players and maybe one or two with star potential but some flags.

They took Cross probably because options such as Derek Stingley Jr, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Evan Neal and Ikem Ekwonu weren’t there. Two days on, I’m at peace with it. Like I said — he wasn’t my personal top choice by any stretch. He likely wouldn’t be the top choice for people like Jeremiah or Lance Zierlein (who had Cross ranked 17th in the class). I don’t think you can quibble too much, though, about taking a left tackle prospect in round one.

Here’s the thing though — the comparative value of their next two choices was really good. If they reached on Cross on Jeremiah’s board, Zierlein’s board and my own personal board, the next two picks were the opposite.

Jeremiah had Boye Mafe ranked 31st but he was taken at #40. He had Kenneth Walker ranked 33rd but he was taken at #41.

I don’t think they got a true top-10 value out of Cross but you could easily suggest they got two first-round graded players in round two. Don’t just take my word for it either. Dane Brugler had Walker as RB1, a fringe first rounder and compared him to Garrison Hearst. Zierlein had Mafe ranked 34th and Walker 36th.

I think it all basically balances out quite well in terms of value.

They then selected Abraham Lucas in round three — a player I thought genuinely deserved late first round consideration — before gaining tremendous value on day three with the two cornerbacks they selected.

I’ll say it again — mission accomplished.

People have quibbled and that’s fine. You don’t have to take my word as gospel on this draft class or the Seahawks.

I do think it’s a bit silly though that the running back value debate has reared its ugly head again — a thoroughly boring topic that people obsess over. I’d suggest the presence of Derrick Henry, Jonathan Taylor, Dalvin Cook, Nick Chubb and Joe Mixon — all drafted in the same range as Kenneth Walker — suggests there’s ample value to be found with a pick like this.

Not everything has to be viewed through the prism of straining every last drop of positional value out of every decision — then complaining about it on Twitter.

A lot of this was connected to the quarterback class. Why take a running back in round two instead of a quarterback, people asked. It’s a simple answer. The running back taken is really good. The quarterbacks were limited, middling and mediocre.

There were also people complaining about Mafe’s age. Presumably if he was only currently 21 or 22 instead of 23 it would somehow impact his ability to succeed in the NFL. Forget that he runs a 1.56 10-yard split, jumps a 42 inch vertical, had a strong 19.8% pass rush win percentage at Minnesota and made it look easy at the Senior Bowl with the way he rushed the edge with a great repertoire. Forget that he’s only a year older than T.J. Watt was when he entered the league.

No, he’s one or two years older than ideal. Let the complaining begin.

Anyway, enough about that.

Here’s what the Seahawks achieved over the last three days.

They are launching a rebuild with young book-end offensive tackles. Two legit options for the long haul at both tackle spots.

They have a dynamic, explosive, super-quick pass rusher to play across from Darrell Taylor and rotate with Uchenna Nwosu.

They have a running back with the potential and upside to be something a bit special. Walker is a dude. Look at his combine highlights video. Look at that frame. Watch his game against Michigan. Be excited by him.

There wasn’t a week during the 2021 season where we didn’t discuss the way Walker was putting on a show for Michigan State. He carried his team to a great season.

They’ve added two young cornerbacks — one hailed for his physicality, leadership and production, the other for his incredible upside and ceiling.

They drafted the guy who fought with Trevor Penning — a top-20 pick — throughout the Senior Bowl (and won his fair share of reps).

They ended with two dynamic receivers with upside potential.

They haven’t addressed every need and they were never going to be able to pull that off. It’s a little bit unexpected that they didn’t tap into this attractive linebacker class at any point.

They’ll need to return to the veteran market in the coming days to fill some holes.

I’ll also always wonder about the first round trade up that ‘vanished’ according to John Schneider. The Giants taking Kayvon Thibodeaux at #5 instead of an offensive lineman took away a possible move up to #6 in deal with Carolina.

In the future they will need to find a game-wrecking defensive player — probably a pass rusher — and a quarterback. In order to truly succeed, those will be the things they need to accomplish over the next one or two off-seasons.

The building blocks are in place though thanks to this draft. We’ll see what the 2022 season brings with modest expectations.

Then in 12 months time they’ll have a chunk of cap space to use, four picks in the first two rounds and a chance to push this team into a contending position — while finding the future at quarterback.

I can’t wait to watch quarterback tape. I want to start now. What an exciting prospect to study a talented class to try and find the player they will select next year. I’ve already done plenty of work on Kentucky’s Will Levis — who I believe should be the top target — but I will begin pouring over the other candidates.

Then when the college football season returns in September — the excitement will build as we watch these young players perform.

The future at the position, whoever it is, will be part of a team with all the necessary pieces to succeed on offense.

Rebuilds don’t happen in one off-season. Seattle started theirs the right way.

A good start. The right start.

Forward we go.

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NFL Draft 2022 — Live Blog — Rounds 4-7

Welcome to the live blog for this year. I’ll be posting my reaction to every Seahawks pick on here.

I’ll be doing an instant reaction live stream immediately after the draft concludes.

NO tipping picks in the comments section

#109 (R4) — Coby Bryant (CB, Cincinnati)
I had Bryant graded in round four and I like the pick even though I had other corners graded higher. It’s hard to work out these days what the Seahawks want at the position — highlighted by them drafting another short armed corner (30.5 inch arms). He was considered a big time leader in Cincinnati. He’s not the quickest (4.54 at the combine, 4.48 at pro-day) but he’s competitive in run support and was well liked by a lot in the scouting community. He has a chance to compete to start which is all you can ask for in day three. Lesser upside than others but perhaps readier to start.

#145 (R5) — TRADE
The Seahawks dealt this pick to Kansas City, moving down to #158 and gaining #233.

#153 (R5) — Tariq Woolen (CB, UTSA)
Another cornerback added and it’s a player with major upside. He ran a 4.26 at 6-4 and 205lbs. He’s an outstanding athlete. Jim Nagy highlighted him during our pre-Senior Bowl interview. Woolen is a bit stiff in his transition and given his size there’s not much he can do about that. Yet the size and traits combo is majorly intriguing. I had him listed in the second round based on his remarkable upside so getting him in round five is great value. He’s only played cornerback for two years and he needs some work. Yet there isn’t really anyone else with his size, speed and explosive qualities in this draft.

#158 (R5) — Tyreke Smith (DE, Ohio State)
Perhaps best known as the guy who spent most of the Senior Bowl fighting with Trevor Penning, Smith has some pass rushing skill. Classically for the Seahawks he tested well in the short shuttle (4.26) and that has been viewed as a better indicator than forty (which wasn’t great — 4.86 at 254lbs). He had his fair share of wins in Mobile and he’s extremely competitive and sparky. I had him in the fourth round range so again this looks like good value.

#229 (R7) — Bo Melton (WR, Rutgers)
I had a fourth round grade on Melton so once again this is great value. He ran a 4.34 at the combine and jumped a 38 inch vertical. He was used as a gunner at Rutgers so he carries some special teams value and he was a two-time team captain. As a seventh round pick he has a legit chance to make the roster with a good camp. You can’t ask for more than that.

#233 (R7) — Dareke Young (WR, Lenoir-Ryne)
The final pick is another receiver. I had Young as a sixth or seventh round pick. He ran a 4.44 at his pro-day and jumped a 37 inch vertical and an 11-3 broad. That was at 6-2 and 224lbs and he looks incredible in terms of frame. He’s a developmental receiver with major upside.

Seahawks 2022 draft class

Charles Cross T
Boye Mafe DE
Kenneth Walker RB
Abraham Lucas T
Coby Bryant CB
Tariq Woolen CB
Tyreke Smith DE
Bo Melton WR
Dareke Young WR

NFL Draft 2022 — Live Blog — Rounds 2-3

Welcome to the live blog for this year. I’ll be posting my reaction to every pick on here, including longer-form analysis of the Seahawks picks.

Don’t forget — I’ll be doing an instant reaction live stream immediately after the third round concludes.

NO tipping picks in the comments section

#33 Tampa Bay — Logan Hall (DT, Houston)
My source said Hall had a great chance to sneak into the late first and he goes as the top pick on day two. Hall is incredibly agile and quick. He’s powerful. Yet he needs a better pass-rush plan and he’s too upright. At the moment he’s an out of control fireball.

#34 Green Bay (v/MIN) — Christian Watson (WR, North Dakota State)
The Packers give up two second rounders (#53 & #59) to move up. It’s a bit of a desperation move due to the run on receivers yesterday. However, I really like Watson. He’s incredibly quick and can be used in a variety of ways (vertical, sweeps, shorter routes with quick separation). Good player.

#35 Tennessee — Roger McCreary (CB, Auburn)
A tenacious, competitive cornerback. He’s diminutive and his lack of length could be an issue. However, his recovery speed and ability to mirror then just stick out an arm at the crucial moment to break up a pass is impressive.

#36 New York Jets (v/NYG) — Breece Hall (RB, Iowa State)
The Jets jump ahead of Houston, giving up a fifth rounder to move up two spots. New York is building a heck of a class. Hall is a plug and play, impact player for the offense — adding to Garrett Wilson. This is a really smart draft from the Jets.

#37 Houston — Jalen Pitre (S, Baylor)
A lot of people like Pitre but I had a hard job assessing him. I think this is a bit of a reach though for a nickel safety type. He made plays in college but I can’t tell whether it translates to the next level.

#38 Atlanta (v/NYG) — Arnold Ebiketie (DE, Penn State)
The Falcons trade up from #43 moving ahead of the Colts, Seahawks and Bears. Ebiketie was fun to watch and he’s explosive. However, it did raise a bit of an alarm when he didn’t run at the combine and then delivered a 1.69 10-yard split at his pro-day. Burst matters. Atlanta badly needed a pass rusher.

#39 Chicago — Kyler Gordon (CB, Washington)
Extremely explosive, incredibly agile. Gordon has a ton of talent. The forty he ran at the combine was a big surprise and probably cost him a place in round one. Nevertheless, this is good value for the Bears who didn’t have a first rounder.

#40 Seattle — Boye Mafe (DE, Minnesota)
Mafe is tremendous value here. His Senior Bowl performance was outstanding. He made it look effortless. Cast your mind back to that time. We were talking about him being a round one option if they had their #10 pick still. He has heavy hands, he’s lightning quick off the edge. He ran a 1.56 10-yard split. He just needs to find a level of consistency. He has superb potential and they needed a pass rusher. I had him going #31 overall to the Chiefs in my mock.

#41 Seattle — Kenneth Walker (RB, Michigan State)
Another superb value pick. Again, think back to the college football season and how often we talked about Walker. He carried Michigan State on his back. Then think back to the combine. He just looked like an absolute dude. He was rocked up. Ran amazingly. Explosive. This is the range in the draft where some of the best backs in the league have been taken. I really like this value.

Bonus thought on the quarterbacks
Been saying for a long time — this isn’t a quarterback class to chase. While many have clamoured for this group in the media and among Seattle’s fan base, look at what the league is saying. Look at what Scot McCloughan told us. Look at the breakdowns we’ve done on here. It’s a draft full of third rounders.

#42 Minnesota (v/IND) — Andrew Booth (CB, Clemson)
Fantastic value here. My now overly cited to the point of nausea league source said he was CB3 in this class. The injury hurt him a bit. He has a chance to be really good though. He plays the ball superbly, he can tackle, he’s incredibly smooth with his footwork but he can mix it up too.

#43 New York Giants — Wan’Dale Robinson (WR, Kentucky)
I loved Robinson. He was so good for Will Levis — a reliable threat. He is fearless. He reminded me a lot of Golden Tate. You can rely on him to get the job done — just get the ball into his hands.

#44 Houston — John Metchie (WR, Alabama)
When I reviewed the tape recently all I could think of was — he’s not as fast as I thought. Even so, he always produced for Alabama and the Texans needed a target for Davis Mills.

#45 Baltimore — David Ojabo (DE, Michigan)
This was about the range for him post-injury. It’s a great pick for player and team. Well done to the man from Scotland. The Ravens are just good at drafting.

#46 Detroit — Josh Paschal (DE, Kentucky)
This is such a Lions pick. Paschal is a tone-setter and a passionate, forceful defender. He’s not much of an edge threat but he’s a thunderous force against the run. Really explosive, really agile. The type who helps set a culture.

#47 Washington — Phidarian Mathis (DT, Alabama)
I like Mathis. Long arms. Did a fantastic job rushing the passer despite a middling physical profile. He stood out in numerous games. I’m not sure replacing Tim Settle this early was a huge need but you know what you’re going to get with Mathis.

#48 Chicago — Jaquan Brisker (S, Penn State)
Their new defensive minded Head Coach adds two defensive backs. Brisker has his fans in scouting circles but I was never truly enamoured with him. The Bears start a new era focusing on their secondary — which is a bit odd given the need to build around Justin Fields.

#49 New Orleans — Alontae Taylor (CB, Tennessee)
I like him but this feels pretty high. Good length, great athleticism. He has a lot of potential and he could play corner or safety.

#50 New England (v/KC) — Tyquan Thornton (WR, Baylor)
The Patriots move up from 54 and give the Chiefs a fifth round pick. Thornton ran an incredible forty at the combine and they’ve gone with the speed because I had him down in round four. He’s very thin, very slight. Can he handle the physicality at the next level?

#51 Philadelphia — Cam Jurgens (C, Nebraska)
Outstanding pick. Love what the Eagles have done here — adding Jordan Davis, A.J. Brown and Jurgens. He will be the heir apparent to Jason Kelce and he’ll help set the tone up front. No wonder they were celebrating in the Philly draft room.

#52 Pittsburgh — George Pickens (WR, Georgia)
The Steelers have done a good job drafting receivers over the years but I never quite could get excited about Pickens. He’s had injuries. There was some character chatter. They need weapons for Kenny Pickett though.

#53 Indianapolis — Alec Pierce (WR, Cincinnati)
Despite the 4.3 testing speed he had a lot of contested catches which made you wonder if the speed translates. That said, there were also posts downfield where he blazed by a defender and Desmond Ridder under-threw the pass to make life harder than it needed to be. He has a shot to be good. I like him more than Pickens.

#54 Kansas City — Skyy Moore (WR, Western Michigan)
He goes in the same range as former team mate Dee Eskridge. He’s very competitive and a warrior. He’s not as quick as Eskridge. He goes up and gets the football. He’ll enjoy playing with Pat Mahomes. This fills a need and they didn’t panic like green Bay.

#55 Arizona — Trey McBride (TE, Colorado State)
I like him. He loves to block, he tested well at pro-day. He’s a complete TE.

#56 Dallas — Sam Williams (DE, Ole Miss)
Provided the character concerns check out, this is a fantastic pick. He ran a 1.52 10-yard split and he can get after it off the edge. It’s a classic Cowboys draft pick and they like taking a shot on these guys. I would’ve had him in Seattle (character permitting).

#57 Tampa Bay (v/BUF) — Luke Goedeke (G, Central Michigan)
The Buccs trade up with the Bills. Goedeke will kick inside to guard. He was well liked at Central Michigan, with a lot of people rating him against the far more raw and inexperienced Bernhard Raimann.

#58 Atlanta — Troy Andersen (LB, Montana State)
One of the most fun players to watch on tape. His testing profile is elite and the sky’s the limit for him. He can be superb with the right coaching and guidance. This could launch a bit of a run at the position.

#59 Minnesota — Ed Ingram (G, LSU)
I had him in round four. He jumped an awful 20.5 inch vertical at the combine. There are some good, athletic snaps on tape but this feels like a reach.

#60 Cincinnati (v/BUF) — Cam Taylor-Britt (CB, Nebraska)
The Bengals have traded up from #63, leapfrogging the 49ers. I’m a big fan of CTB. He’s a big hitter who loves to tackle. He has the speed to cover and be a potential playmaker. A good pick at cornerback for the Bengals and if they kept him away from the Niners, all the better.

#61 San Francisco — Drake Jackson (DE, USC)
People were talking him up as a first rounder this week. He has amazing flashes on tape at times but my word you want to see more. He’s been up and down trying to find an ideal weight. He’s a chunky edge. I get a Rasheem Green vibe from him that he has all the potential but can he put it together?

#62 Kansas City — Bryan Cook (S, Cincinnati)
I love Cook — a solid, mature leader and a player who loves to mix it up as a tackler. He can cover. He’s just really solid. He can do some of what Tyrann Mathieu did for them. He’s that kind of player. I had him squarely in round two.

#63 Buffalo — James Cook (RB, Georgia)
I didn’t see him going this early. Dalvin’s brother goes in the second round. That’s interesting. Will be keen to see how they utilise him.

#64 Denver — Nik Bonitto (DE, Oklahoma)
I mocked this a couple of times, it felt like a fit for what they do and they need to replace Von Miller. This is good value for the Broncos to be fair, given their lack of picks this year.

#65 Jacksonville — Luke Fortner (C, Kentucky)
I wasn’t blown away by his tape. I liked his willingness to get to the second level and he’s a solid player but I didn’t get excited watching him (yes, it’s possible to get excited watching a center). I had him down for day three.

#66 Minnesota — Brian Asamoah (LB, Oklahoma)
His tape is great. He flies to the ball-carrier. He would’ve been a second rounder but for a middling set of testing results.

#67 New York Giants — Joshua Ezeudu (G, North Carolina)
Wasn’t crazy about him on tape. Not explosive or that athletic. They needed a guard and he’ll come in and give it a go. I prefer Logan Bruss. Another player I had listed for day three.

#68 Cleveland — MJ Emerson (CB, Mississippi State)
Love this pick. Classic Seahawks-style corner. Stood out at the combine as someone who screamed Seattle. On tape he hits hard and loves a tackle. He needs better ball skills to create turnovers but there’s so much to like. I gave him a R2 grade.

#69 Tennessee — Nicholas Petit-Frere (T, Ohio State)
On tape he looked athletic and smooth. He just lacked an edge. Yet at the combine he tested poorly and it took the edge off his stock.

#70 Jacksonville — Chad Muma (LB, Wyoming)
Muma’s tape is really good. He flies around the field and was a quick striker once he’d ID’s the ball-carrier. They take another linebacker after selecting Devin Lloyd earlier.

#71 Chicago — Velus Jones Jr (WR, Tennessee)
He is a special player when it comes to special teams. He can be a big time return-man, he can block for others too. His character is excellent and he will lift those around him. He’s really quick so he’ll have a role on offense too.

#72 Seattle — Abraham Lucas (T, Washington State)
Punching the air over here. What a pick. Lucas was by far the best performer during on-field drills at the combine. He was great at the Senior Bowl. He’s a tremendous run-blocker. I had him graded in round one, they get him in round three. I love this pick.

#73 Indianapolis — Jelani Woods (TE, Virginia)
He was so interesting on tape and his testing backed it up. Yes he’s a bit tall and stiff but there’s some magic in there.

#74 Atlanta — Desmond Ridder (QB, Cincinnati)
This is fair enough range for Ridder. The first round talk was total and utter nonsense. This is his true placing in this class — mid-rounds.

#75 Houston (v/Denver) — Christian Harris (LB, Alabama)
He had great testing but his tape just left you wanting more.

#76 Baltimore — Travis Jones (DT, Connecticut)
Of course the Ravens selected this guy. Because they continue to make smart moves. They are having an outstanding draft.

#77 Indianapolis — Bernhard Raimann (T/G, Central Michigan)
They really focus on explosive traits in Indy so it’s no surprise they’ve taken Raimann. His technique needs a total ground-zero build though.

#78 Cleveland — Alex Wright (DE, UAB)
His testing was so bad I didn’t give him a draftable grade.

#79 LA Chargers — JT Woods (S, Baylor)
I’m very surprised he’s gone before Nick Cross. I had him in the fourth round. He’s a solid player with a good set of physical traits.

#80 Denver — Greg Dulcich (TE, UCLA)
Given the Wilson trade, the Broncos have done a tremendous job finding value with their two picks. Dulcich has major potential and will immediately fill the void left by Noah Fant.

#81 New York Giants — Cordale Flott (CB, LSU)
I didn’t give Flott a draftable grade. He’s just so slight and how will we handle the physical NFL?

#82 Atlanta — DeAngelo Malone (DE, Western Kentucky)
He had a great Senior Bowl and tested well after adding weight. As a developmental pass rusher he is a good pick in this range.

#83 Philadelphia — Nakobe Dean (LB, Georgia)
I had a big disagreement in the comments recently for suggesting Dean could last to round three. The injuries and lack of size or testing were an issue. It’s as simple as that. The Eagles doing it right by drafting two Georgia defenders.

#84 Pittsburgh — DeMarvin Leal (DT, Texas A&M)
As I’ve kept saying — the idea of DeMarvin Leal is better than the reality. This is a good spot for him though and he provides some value at this stage.

#85 New England — Marcus Jones (CB, Houston)
He’s really small but he still finds a way to make an impression. He’s one of the best special teamers in the draft.

#86 Tennessee (v/LVR) — Malik Willis (QB, Liberty)
The Titans move up four spots in a deal with the Raiders. Willis comes off the board, in fairness, in the range he deserved to go in. The media should feel bad about what they’ve done to him — promoting him way beyond his level, mocking him #2 overall and stuff like that. That was utter nonsense and I bet the last two days have been an emotional rollercoaster for him because people talked utter bollocks about his draft stock for months.

#87 Arizona — Cam Thomas (DE, San Diego State)
On tape he flashed and looked good. But his lack of length, injuries ruling him out of the Senior Bowl and average testing took away some of the gloss.

#88 Dallas — Jalen Tolbert (WR, South Alabama)
This is really good value for Tolbert. Dallas has done a good job adding receivers over the years. He’s really smooth and made the best catch in college football last season.

#89 Buffalo — Terrel Bernard (LB, Baylor)
He’s well regarded for his character reportedly but I thought it was hard to imagine him in much more than a special teams role.

#90 Las Vegas — Dylan Parham (C, Memphis)
Good player, strong value in this range. The type of pick you can imagine the New England mafia making for their O-line. He impressed at the Senior Bowl.

#91 Tampa Bay — Rachaad White (RB, Arizona State)
I liked watching him and he can fill the Ronald Jones role for them. His frame isn’t what you’d typically expect for a running back. He’s quite long and lean. However, he has a bit of an X-factor about him and he can break off big plays.

#92 Green Bay — Sean Rhyan (G, UCLA)
He played tackle in college but has a guard frame. Short arms are an issue but the Packers have done a good job developing their O-liners.

#93 San Francisco — Tyrion Davis-Price (RB, LSU)
I really like TDP. Terrific, underrated player. The Niners keep running through RB’s and to be honest, a lot of them haven’t worked (surprisingly). This guy could be really good. Quick feet for his size, he dances away from tackles yet has the strength to also drive through contact and finish.

#94 Carolina (v/NE) — Matt Corral (QB, Ole Miss)
The Panthers have dealt their 2023 third rounder to get back into the draft. For me he was the best quarterback in the class. In the late third round, you can definitely justify taking him. The Panthers keep paying forward though to try and find a QB. They’re desperate. And given the price (this pick and the 2023 R3) presumably they’re out of the Baker Mayfield sweepstakes.

#95 Cincinnati — Zach Carter (DE, Florida)
I liked his tape and his Senior Bowl but his testing performance was so bad that I gave him a day three grade. He’s an inside/out rusher.

#96 Indianapolis (v/DEN) — Nick Cross (S, Maryland)
Another team giving up a 2023 third rounder to move back into the end of day two. It was a good decision. I really like Cross — he is such a tough, fast, versatile defender.

#97 Detroit — Kerby Joseph (S, Illinois)
Another classic Lions pick. They keep adding their types of guy — culture builders. Joseph plays with fire. He’s a magnet to the ball. I gave him a second round grade and had he tested, he might’ve gone in that range.

#98 Washington — Brian Robinson Jr (RB, Alabama)
He’s a tough runner who shot through contact and finished runs. He’s high-cut which is always a concern but he had a tremendous 2021 season.

#99 Cleveland — David Bell (WR, Purdue)
On tape I had him down as a second rounder. He looked tremendous. But his testing was so hideous, running in the 4.7’s at his size, that I moved him to round five.

#100 Arizona — Myjai Sanders (DE, Cincinnati)
The whole weight thing at the combine was weird and a bit off-putting. He doesn’t have the kind of frame you’d typically associate with a NFL rusher so he’ll need to be an outlier.

#101 New York Jets — Jeremy Ruckert (TE, Ohio State)
Without the injuries, he would’ve gone a lot earlier than this. There was talk early in the process that the Jets liked Ruckert. It’s another good pick by New York.

#102 Miami — Channing Tindall (LB, Georgia)
I wish the Seahawks would’ve found a way to move up from #109 to get Tindall. He’s a terrific, explosive player who absolutely flies to the ball. This is a tremendous pick for the Dolphins.

#103 Kansas City — Leo Chenal (LB, Wisconsin)
This is a bit of a disappointing end to the day, watching two quality linebackers come off the board. Not sure how easy it would’ve been to move up from #109 but it’s a shame they couldn’t find a way to add one of Tindall or Chenal.

#104 LA Rams — Logan Bruss (G, Wisconsin)
Sheesh, it’s hard seeing these guys come off the board. The last four picks are really good players. I’m a big fan of Bruss. The Rams love kicking tackles inside to play guard and he’s a great fit for them. He’s explosive with a great short shuttle.

#105 San Francisco — Danny Gray (WR, SMU)
He’s super fast and Kyle Shanahan will find plenty of creative ways to use him.

Day two targets for the Seahawks

Before getting into the article, earlier today I conducted a live stream with Jeff Simmons prior to the start of day two. Check it out here:

Today was always going to be the defining day of this draft. It’s when the real winners will be determined.

Here’s my updated horizontal board with the drafted players removed. As you can see, a lot of talent remains (click the image to enlarge):

I think the Seahawks need to add to their defense. They need to inject some young talent to that group. They need to add a couple of impact players capable of starting very quickly.

Right now, all they’ve done to the unit is remove D.J. Reed, Bobby Wagner, Carlos Dunlap and Benson Mayowa and they’ve added Uchenna Nwosu, Shelby Harris, Artie Burns and Quinton Jefferson.

That’s concerning, to be honest. Now they need to do something about it.

I doubt Sean Desai was lured to Seattle for this.

The most talented defenders available are:

Andrew Booth (CB, Clemson)
Described by my league source as the third best cornerback in the draft, he’s only fallen out of the first round due to a lack of testing because of an injury. Booth has the potential to be really, really good — much in the way Trevon Diggs has emerged as a second round steal.

Travis Jones (DT, Connecticut)
One of the stars of the Senior Bowl, Jones is an absolute physical marvel. In Mobile he consistently dominated 1v1 reps with a dynamic bull-rush showing off his power and explosive qualities. He ran a 4.92 at 325lbs and added a 4.58 short shuttle. He can disrupt the pocket and has a great shot to be Ndamukong Suh’s replacement in Tampa Bay with the 33rd pick.

Logan Hall (DT, Houston)
He ran a 4.44 at 283lbs which is remarkable and indicative of a player with major potential. He plays way too upright and his pass rush plan needs significant work (he’s kind of all over the place at the moment) but the upside and potential is there to be a fantastic five-technique or three-technique rusher.

Boye Mafe (DE, Minnesota)
He won so many reps at the Senior Bowl and made it look effortless. He’s a stunning athlete with explosive lower body power, strong hands and dynamic quickness. He rounds the arc with a smoothness few possess in this class. He does need to learn to become more consistent and find a way to dominate rather than perform in spurts but he will have been graded in round one by some teams.

Kyler Gordon (CB, Washington)
His agility testing and explosive traits are off the charts, even if his combine forty was surprisingly slow. You’re going to get an amped up, top-level performer who may never emerge as an elite corner but he has a chance to be extremely good.

I think all five will leave the board before picks #40 and #41.

I’m not as keen on rolling the dice on Nakobe Dean. It’s undoubted he plays with incredible intensity and fire. My source thought he would go in round one but admitted concern about the health and lack of testing. Whoever gets him, the media will call it a steal. If the Seahawks take him, I wouldn’t complain. But he’s a 5-11, 225lbs linebacker without any testing results and injury flags.

David Ojabo was always a little bit overrated as a potential top-10 pick. I’m not a fan of the whole ‘take a player and redshirt them for a year’. Especially when you’re trying to build something like Seattle. I’m not sure you can risk him never really stepping forward — and if he’s not on the field until 2023, that’s tough to swallow when so many good alternatives exist.

Perrion Winfrey is also a tricky evaluation. He played well at the Senior Bowl, he ran a great forty and on the field he carries an alpha, aggressive, passionate personality. His tape is absolutely rubbish though.

There are players I think fit the Seahawks extremely well who may last into range.

Channing Tindall and Leo Chenal are explosive, passionate linebackers with downfield attack-dog mentalities. Troy Andersen has the most athletic upside of any linebacker in the draft.

I’ve wanted Tindall in Seattle since midway through the 2021 college season. They need a hair-on-fire front seven player who can cover ground, fly to ball carriers and pack a punch.

If you could pair Tindall with Sam Williams the Ole Miss rusher — you’d be onto a winner. For me, Williams has as much upside as any of the first round pass rushers. He ran in the 4.4’s, he ran an insane 1.52 10-yard split and his pass rush win percentage is 19.5%. There are some character issues teams will have looked into.

That would give Seattle a scary looking front seven. You could come out of this draft excited about that.

If they took any of the five names above instead — so be it.

Some other wildcard names to monitor — there are four cornerbacks I really like on day two. MJ Emerson, Demarri Mathis, Cam Taylor-Britt and Jalen Armour-Davis. They are all physically imposing. Emerson looks like a Seahawks prototype and is being wildly underrated. They are four classy, exciting players who I ranked above first round selection Kaiir Elam.

Nick Cross the safety at Maryland is a tremendous player — hard-hitting, highly athletic and versatile. Cincinnati’s Bryan Cook is being underrated and is a really solid cover-and-hit prospect. Someone’s going to get a steal with Illinois’ Kerby Joseph and my league source absolutely loved Jaquon Brisker at Penn State. I suspect he will come off the board quickly today.

Kentucky’s Joshua Paschal is so fun to watch. Explosive, tough and a brilliant run defender (albeit with pass rush limitations off the edge).

I’m not as high on Christian Harris at Alabama (underwhelming tape), Drake Jackson (you just want to see more — I think he’ll end up like Rasheem Green), Arnold Ebiketie (ran a 1.69 10-yard split) or DeMarvin Leal (he should be better than he is).

You can make a strong case for Nik Bonitto in Seattle’s new scheme. He’s quick, explosive and can drop in coverage, rush the edge and would help disguise pressure within a more creative scheme. He’s difficult to judge though as a pure pass rusher given his wide alignments at Oklahoma and task of basically getting to the QB before the tackle covers across. Can he engage and still win?

I also think Michael Clemons is such a dude, that wins in the same way Darrell Taylor did. He could be higher on Seattle’s board than many others.

If it wasn’t for Damone Clark’s injury, he would have a legit shot at round one.

So the opportunity is there to really bolster the defense and that’s needed.

However — quality also remains on offense.

I’ve been one of Abraham Lucas’ biggest fans. He was far better than the media acknowledged in Mobile. He was by far the best on-field tester at the combine during drills. I would have no problem drafting him to fill the right tackle spot across from Charles Cross. He’s a tremendous run blocker — don’t be fooled by the ‘air raid’ tag for him at Washington State. They ran plenty and his run-blocking grade was a 91.0. He’s a better run-blocker than pass protector.

Taking Lucas at #40 or #41 would be a steal.

I also think Cam Jurgens would be an outstanding pick. He’s just so physical, explosive, dynamic and he’ll set the tone up front. He can play guard or center.

Wake Forest’s Zach Tom is also a massively underrated player who can play literally any position on the offensive line. Logan Bruss is another name to keep an eye on.

Several quality pass catchers remain on the board — including Kevin Austin Jr, Alec Pierce, Christian Watson, Trey McBride, Greg Dulich, Cade Otton and Wan’Dale Robinson.

Some Seahawks fans are going to dread they take a running back early. As tiresome as that’ll be, there are some really good backs available. Breece Hall has a testing profile similar to Jonathan Taylor. Who wouldn’t want that? Kenneth Walker is a ‘dude’ who carried Michigan State. I love Dameon Pierce and Zamir White as round three options. Pierce in particular just screams ‘Seahawks’.

Personally I would rather wait on the position but if they take Hall or Walker in round two as best player available — no complaints here. They want to run the ball and they need (healthy) talent at running back.

The one position I hope the Seahawks avoid is quarterback. This group simply isn’t good enough. If a player lasts into round three, feel free to take a flier. Not in round two though. Not this year.

Desmond Ridder is a limited quarterback with major accuracy issues. He deserves major credit for what he did at Cincinnati and no doubt the ‘winner’ tag is going to help him. I just don’t think you can get past the average arm, the erratic throws, the robotic mechanics and the lack of flash in key games. Watch his tape — Navy, Eastern Carolina, Alabama. Tell me this is a guy who can be a top-10 quarterback in this league. As my source said — he’s already reached his ceiling.

Malik Willis is a powerful athlete and he has a great arm but he can’t play within the offense. If you were upset with Russell Wilson’s self-inflicted sacks, Willis is on another level. He flat-out refuses to throw over the middle (either that or he just isn’t seeing the field well enough). A lot of fans are shouting for Seattle to draft him. This isn’t the move to make.

I don’t get the Sam Howell hype. I think he’s very, very limited.

Matt Corral could easily be a player they target, given the Kiffin connection. I like his arm strength. I think he can be a point guard. There are just too many misses on tape and he needs a ground-zero lesson in how to operate a pro-offense.

There are better options on both sides of the ball ahead of taking a quarterback in round two who likely won’t be any better than Drew Lock.

Scot McCloughan said all of these QB’s are being graded in round three. So why would you take any of them before then?

Today is a great opportunity for the Seahawks to add talent. Go take it.

Round two options (offense):

Abraham Lucas T
Cam Jurgens C
Breece Hall RB
Kenneth Walker RB
Christian Watson WR
Alec Pierce WR
Kevin Austin Jr WR
Bernhard Raimann G

Round three options (offense):

Dameon Pierce RB
Zamir White RB
Tyrion Davis-Price RB
Calvin Austin WR
Wan’Dale Robinson WR
Skyy Moore WR
George Pickens WR
Khalil Shakir WR
Romeo Doubs WR
Zach Tom T/G/C
Rasheed Walker T
Logan Bruss G/T
Luke Goedeke G
Obinna Eze T
Dylan Parham C/G

Quarterback ranking order:

Matt Corral QB
Malik Willis QB
Desmond Ridder QB
Carson Strong QB
Jack Coan QB
Sam Howell QB

Round two options (defense):

Andrew Booth CB
Kyler Gordon CB
Nick Cross S
Jaquan Brisker S
Nakobe Dean LB
Channing Tindall LB
Leo Chenal LB
Troy Andersen LB
Travis Jones DT
Perrion Winfrey DT
Nik Bonitto EDGE
Sam Williams EDGE
David Ojabo EDGE
Arnold Ebiketie EDGE

Round three options (defense)

MJ Emerson CB
Demarri Mathis CB
Cam Taylor-Britt CB
Jalen Armour-Davis CB
Roger McCreary CB
Tariq Woolen CB
Bryan Cook S
Kerby Joseph S
Jalen Pitre S
Percy Butler S
Michael Clemons EDGE
Drake Jackson EDGE
Joshua Paschal EDGE
DeAngelo Malone EDGE
Dominique Robinson EDGE
Eyioma Uwazurike DT
Matthew Butler DT
DeMarvin Leal DT
Phidarian Mathis DT
Chad Muma LB
Christian Harris LB
Brian Asamoah LB

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Live stream reaction & Charles Cross thoughts

I think this was a ‘settling’ first round. I think a lot of teams ‘settled’ — including the Seahawks.

Without the big name quarterbacks or the blue-chip Ja’Marr Chase types available, it felt like a lot of teams simply tried to make the best of the situation they were presented with. I’m not sure anyone was that excited about the first round, looking at the different draft rooms on TV. There was a fair amount of low energy shots with a couple of big exceptions.

For some, such as Jacksonville with the top pick, they opted to try and gamble a little bit by going for someone they clearly think has more upside than Aidan Hutchinson — who is in the ‘will be good, might not be great’ category.

For others it meant acknowledging what’s going on in the receiver market and trying to find cheap talent, creating a massive rush. For two other teams it was about tapping into that unknown and being willing, in Philadelphia’s case, to give a young star $25m a year. And then there was the Minnesota Vikings — ridiculously gifting a division rival arguably the best receiver in the draft and dropping down 20 spots in the process to basically acquire one extra mid-round pick.

From the Seahawks perspective, my guess is they probably had a firm eye on some of the big upside players in this draft. That would include Derek Stingley Jr, Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal. All three players have been mocked to Seattle so they maybe even got their hopes up. Yet all three came off the board and in that situation, I would guess that initial instinct was to move down.

Yet it was being reported by Tony Pauline right before the draft that the phone lines simply weren’t ringing for Seattle’s pick. Thus, they took a left tackle with their first pick to launch their biggest draft in many years.

I’m not sure it’s what they pined for when they woke up in the morning. Each of these four picks is going to be scrutinised heavily and compared to the player, Russell Wilson, who they dealt. Picks always kind of look better before you use them. I’m not sure Charles Cross is a knock-your-socks-off talent to launch a new era. He is a left tackle though and that at least is something.

I’m not a huge fan of his as regulars will know. His physical profile is underwhelming. He ran a decent 4.95 forty but his explosive testing wasn’t very good (26 inch vertical at the combine) and his agility testing (4.65 short shuttle) was nothing to write home about. He’s not small but he’s not particularly big either. Not for a tackle. I’d like to see him bulk up a bit and add some muscle definition and power in a pro-weight training program (which is very achievable).

I’ll preempt the reaction of ‘testing doesn’t matter, tape does’ by saying I’ll come onto the tape in a moment. Firstly, I would recommend checking out this article. There are always outliers but generally speaking, the better performing O-liners in the league share a physical profile that Cross simply doesn’t have.

On tape I think he’s a challenging assessment at times because of the Mike Leach offense. There’s a lot of him just needing to basically get in the way just long enough for a pass to be thrown. And regardless of down or distance, it’s nearly always a pass. So you see a lot of the same reps and how he handles certain scenarios remains a bit of a mystery — especially in the running game (which, presumably, he’ll now be doing a lot of). For example — I have no idea if you can run behind him on 3rd and 1.

I don’t like his narrow base because he looks at times like he’s crying out to be bull-rushed on every snap. Sam Williams the Ole Miss pass rusher had great success against him. I worry a little bit what he’ll do when bigger, more explosive defensive ends decide they’re just going to run through him. Can he fix that base to provide a greater anchor against those kind of moves?

He does do a good job clamping on at times without ever looking like he’s going to get flagged. His feet move well with his body — it’s just that base needs fixing. I like how he recovers when opponents gain position or win with a better get-off.

There are mixed reviews on his grading. I’m not alone in having some concerns but there are also people who think he’s one of the top prospects in the class. PFF’s Mike Renner ranked him the fifth overall prospect and Dane Brugler had him #7. However, Lance Zierlein graded him at #17 and Daniel Jeremiah had him at #22. So it’s a mixed bag.

As I noted on my podcast earlier — the league source I spoke to believed Ikem Ekwonu deserved to go in the #7-9 range and Charles Cross the #8-12 range. That proved to be virtually what happened.

Personally I preferred Abraham Lucas but he’s a right tackle not a left tackle.

If he proves to be a franchise left tackle it’ll be an ideal starting point for this rebuild. Certainly despite my own personal underwhelming impression of the pick, I’m not going to write him off. I’m intrigued to see what he can do.

I do wonder though if the Seahawks even know what they’re trying to be any more. It’s still Pete Carroll’s team but they continue to select what I’d consider ‘finesse’ players with their top picks. Last year it was Dee Eskridge over players like Creed Humphrey. Now it’s Cross who is from a pass-heavy offense.

These aren’t really the moves you’d expect from a team that wants to be a connected, great defense and run-the-ball side. I also wonder what direction the defense is going in really — and I’m intrigued to see how they improve that side of the ball on Friday and Saturday given the need for an injection of major talent.

The savings they presumably made on Duane Brown with this pick probably means they’ll invest in a collection of lower level free agents now — such as Mario Addison who had a recent visit. That’s not going to move the needle much but they don’t have the money to splash on a Jadeveon Clowney type.

Of the players remaining available — I’ll go into more detail on Friday. However, I would have no issues doubling down on the O-line by taking Abraham Lucas and/or Cam Jurgens. Pass rushers remain available — such as Boye Mafe and Sam Williams. There’s a healthy crop of linebackers and cornerbacks. I really like Travis Jones while Logan Hall is still out there. All of the running backs remain available too.

I can mention plenty of others. Here’s an updated horizontal board with the drafted players removed (click on the image to enlarge):

I might look to make one pick then trade down with the other if possible.

One final note though — I really hope they do avoid this quarterback class. The NFL confirmed how bad it was today, by keeping all but one on the board. This is a group — including Kenny Pickett who was taken by the Steelers — that is graded in round three. They aren’t good. There’s nobody to hang your hat on for the future. Not Malik Willis. Not Desmond Ridder. Not Sam Howell.

I have some faith in Matt Corral but not enough to want the Seahawks to take him in round two.

Resist. Wait until next year. Continue to build this roster with a big emphasis on the trenches.

If you missed it earlier, here’s my video reaction immediately after the Cross pick.

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NFL Draft 2022 — Live Blog — Round 1

Welcome to the live blog for this year. I’ll be posting my reaction to every pick on here, including longer-form analysis of the Seahawks pick (or picks?).

Don’t forget — I’ll be doing an instant reaction live stream immediately after the first round concludes.

NO tipping picks in the comments section

#1 Jacksonville — Travon Walker (DE, Georgia)
It’s indicative of this draft class that a player who many thought ‘might’ be a first rounder four months ago has been selected first overall. He’s long, powerful, physical and explosive. He’s a great athlete but is he twitchy enough to bend and straighten to really threaten in the speed rush? That would be my question.

#2 Detroit — Aidan Hutchinson (DE, Michigan)
A superb fit. Hutchinson not only fills a huge need for the Lions but his character and attitude perfectly fits the culture they’re trying to create in Detroit. He’s never going to be Myles Garrett. He is going to be really good though — extremely solid and productive. Great pick.

#3 Houston — Derek Stingley Jr (CB, LSU)
This shouldn’t be a surprise. He is a remarkable player and probably the most talented in the entire draft. He would’ve been #1 on my board. When I spoke to my league source (who had scouted Stingley Jr extensively) on the day of the LSU pro-day, he was gushing about him as a player and a person. He felt he was better than Patrick Surtain, taken ninth overall a year ago. The only concern was the Lis Franc injury. Forget the last two years though, that was never a big concern given Covid and what happened at LSU. In this draft, he is worth taking a chance on this early.

#4 New York Jets — Sauce Gardner (CB, Cincinnati)
The Jets go cornerback — which was always a possibility but they can’t rush the passer. I thought Stingley Jr was the better corner but Gardner is a good player with the kind of confidence you want in a top corner. He will help set a culture for the defense. But again, they need a pass rusher. That’ll be a big target for the Jets (along with receiver) with their remaining three high picks (#10, #35, #38).

#5 New York Giants — Kayvon Thibodeaux (DE, Oregon)
They clearly feel comfortable with three tackles on the board — this ensures they get one at #7 and nobody can trade up to #6 to prevent them taking Thibodeaux. I noted in the podcast earlier it was 50/50 he went in the top-five and 100% he went in the top-10. The talk of him falling was massively overrated. He’s extremely talented and just very business orientated. He needs to succeed in football to make the business stuff work so what’s the problem? Good pick for the Giants — he has great potential.

#6 Carolina — Ikem Ekwonu (G, NC State)
I think Ekwonu is a guard, not a tackle. They’ll try him at tackle of course. Eventually though I think he’ll kick inside. That would be his better fit for me. I suspect they really wanted to trade down, couldn’t and went with what they considered the best value. It’ll be interesting to see if the Giants go for Evan Neal or Charles Cross next.

#7 New York Giants — Evan Neal (T, Alabama)
The top offensive lineman for me, the Giants played an absolute blinder here. Getting Thibodeaux and Neal is a home-run for them, setting the foundation for success in the trenches. The man who drafted Brandon Scherff, Scot McCloughan, told me Neal reminded him of his former #5 overall pick in Washington. He could play left guard and be dominant. He can play either tackle spot. Great pick.

#8 Atlanta — Drake London (WR, USC)
There was always a chance Atlanta took a receiver here. I found it really hard to judge London given his lack of testing numbers. He’s big and made plays on tape but again, how big is the upside without the testing? The Falcons clearly believe he can be something special but I’m curious to see if he’s more Mike Williams than Mike Evans.

#9 Seattle — Charles Cross (T, Mississippi State)
I’m really surprised and will admit, I got this totally wrong. I never expected the Seahawks would take a left tackle who played in the air-raid offense, who isn’t explosive and doesn’t have the kind of size the LA Rams’ tackles had. A lot of people like him but I was never a big fan. But, as we’ve also been saying, they were going to take a tackle with one of their early picks because they had two glaring holes. I wish Evan Neal had lasted here, instead of Cross.

#10 New York Jets — Garrett Wilson (WR, Ohio State)
The Jets were always expected to take a receiver with one of their high picks but I’m a little surprised they did it here instead of taking Jermaine Johnson. Wilson is talented, quick but I found it strange how he often contorted his body to make catches harder than they perhaps needed to be.

#11 New Orleans (v/WAS) — Chris Olave (WR, Ohio State)
The Saints gave up third and fourth round picks to move up. I bet Seattle would’ve liked an offer like that. They move up to get a needed quick receiver. The rush on receivers is happening.

#12 Detroit (v/MIN) — Jameson Williams (WR, Alabama)
I can’t believe the Lions traded up twenty spots and only had to give up a third (there was also a swap of seconds). That’s incredible. They needed a receiver badly and arguably get the best one here. Given how they little they gave up, kudos to them.

#13 Philadelphia (v/HOU) — Jordan Davis (DT, Georgia)
Whichever team drafted Jordan Davis was always going to be excited. This is a great selection for the Eagles and the teams they will face in their division. He has a shot to be great at what he does for a long time. He’s just never likely to be a pass rusher.

#14 Baltimore — Kyle Hamilton (S, Notre Dame)
The Ravens always have a knack of finding value. I’m not the biggest fan of Hamilton and they’ll probably be disappointed to miss out on Jordan Davis. But a lot of people had Hamilton down as the best player in the draft. Given it’s a need, it’s not a bad fit at all. Bizarrely, the Ravens have also traded up to #23 with Arizona.

The Cardinals trade for Marquise Brown
Wow — Arizona dealt #23 to the Ravens for the rights to Brown (who played with Kyler Murray at Oklahoma). The Cardinals also get a third round pick in return. Big move by the Ravens. I think they win this trade personally.

#15 Houston — Kenyon Green (G, Texas A&M)
I’ve never really ‘got it’ with Green. His testing results were truly awful. He will be an outlier if he succeeds. And outliers happen — but they aren’t that common. He’s just a big lump of a guard really. I can’t believe he’s gone this early before Zion Johnson.

#16 Washington — Jahan Dotson (WR, Penn State)
Ok, now the draft has gone nuts. The Brown trade, the Green pick and now this. I think Dotson is decent at everything and not brilliant at anything. Taking him at #15 overall is pretty remarkable for me. They passed on Olave and Williams to make this move after trading down.

#17 LA Chargers — Zion Johnson (G, Boston College)
Great pick by the Chargers. This is how you do it. Incredibly explosive, perfectly proportioned. Could be tried at tackle or guard. A very, very good player who will likely play for a long time. Terrific run blocker.

The Eagles trade for AJ Brown
Wow, wow, wow. The Titans have dealt A.J. to the Eagles for a first and third round pick. No wonder the Eagles didn’t want to trade up for a receiver. The deal gives Tennessee #18 and a third rounder. Is now a bad time to remind everyone that Seattle paid twice as much for Jamal Adams? The Eagles are giving him $25m a year. So are you ready to give Metcalf $25m a year?

#18 Tennessee (v/PHI) — Treylon Burks (WR, Arkansas)
The Titans immediately replace Brown with Burks. So they’ve basically opted not to pay Brown $100m over four years. Now they’ll pay a rookie about $14m over four years. The receiver market in free agency is shaking the foundations of the NFL. It really makes you wonder what Seattle is going to do with Metcalf. Burks’ testing results were poor but on tape he did look a lot like Brown.

#19 New Orleans — Trevor Penning (T, Northern Iowa)
He was connected to the Saints a fair old bit. Can he play left tackle long term? The Saints think so, unless they’re going to move Ryan Ramczyk across. He’s big, very athletic and very explosive but has to work through technical flaws and learn to play with greater control.

#20 Pittsburgh — Kenny Pickett (QB, Pittsburgh)
The Steelers make their choice and it’s Pickett. He gets to stay at home, playing in the same stadium he’s played in for the Panthers. He’s a better athlete than people give him credit for, his personality matches the team and he does a lot of things well. He just doesn’t really wow you.

#21 Kansas City (v/NE) — Trent McDuffie (CB, Washington)
The Chiefs move up from #29 in a deal with the Patriots. There was talk of the Chiefs liking Kyler Gordon. I suspect this is a case of them sensing an opportunity to draft a player they perhaps thought wouldn’t be available, so they’ve moved up. McDuffie reminds me of Byron Murphy and he might need to play in the same kind of role. Very likeable player on tape and during interviews.

#22 Green Bay — Quay Walker (LB, Georgia)
I really like Walker. He’s going to play for a long time. He’s a dude — big, quick, physical with range. You can’t go wrong drafting these Georgia defender. This is very early though. Very early. I’m surprised he’s gone here. I suspect the Packers are being caught out big time by all these receiver moves. Who are they going to throw the ball to next season?

#23 Buffalo (v/BAL, ARI) — Kaiir Elam (CB, Florida)
He’s big and athletic. I think he needs to ramp up his effort and you can get him to bite on double moves. When I watched him during the season I always kind of felt like you wanted to see more. He tested well though, suggesting some upside potential.

#24 Dallas — Tyler Smith (T, Tulsa)
He’s aggressive and he’s intelligent but I thought he looked like a tackle destined to shift inside to guard and his testing mark was underwhelming. He’s just not that good defending the edge. This was a trendy mock pick. I had him graded in round three.

#25 Baltimore (v/BUF) — Tyler Linderbaum (C, Iowa)
Some teams just get it when it comes to the draft. Baltimore are one of those teams. For me, this is a great pick. They just drafted someone who will fit here for the next 8-10 years. The Ravens part ways with an underachieving receiver and come away with two holes filled with Kyle Hamilton and Linderbaum. Bravo, Baltimore. You’ve done it again.

#26 New York Jets (v/TEN) — Jermaine Johnson (DE, Florida State)
The Jets come away with Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson and Jermaine Johnson. What a day for them. What a tremendous day. Incredible. This is how you build. Joe Douglas is building something and played a blinder in the Jamal Adams and Sam Darnold trades.

#27 Jacksonville (v/TB) — Devin Lloyd (LB, Utah)
He was a really difficult evaluation. When I was writing my mock I couldn’t place him. I couldn’t decide whether he was late teens or late 20’s. He’s not an amazing athlete, he has unorthodox technique but he’s amazingly productive.

#28 Green Bay — Devonte Wyatt (DT, Georgia)
This is an amazing pick by the Packers. He is outstanding. They’ve drafted two Georgia players. I mocked Wyatt to Green Bay because he’s an ideal fit for what they look for and I was told by my source a really good team late in the first ‘loved him’. I didn’t get a name but I figured it was Green Bay. I’ll say it again. Draft Georgia defenders. They are really good.

#29 New England — Cole Strange (C, Chattanooga)
Explosive offensive lineman. They tend to get bumped up. Strange did exactly that. I thought they’d take Zion Johnson for the same reason but LA took him at #17. They move down and take a player who tested in a very similar way. I really liked this guy — quality player with a lot of upside.

#30 Kansas City — George Karlaftis (DE, Purdue)
My source said some people view Karlaftis as basically a poor man’s Aidan Hutchinson. I think his run defending is far, far worse than Hutchinson’s and he’s not as twitchy off the edge. He’s really quick though. Tremendously and surprisingly quick. And he causes opponents problems with his deceptive burst.

#31 Cincinnati — Daxton Hill (S, Michigan)
This is a bit of a surprise. He was expected to go in round one and he’s extremely competitive with great agility testing. I’m not sure a versatile defensive back was necessarily the expectation here — not with good interior D-liners still available.

#32 Minnesota — Lewis Cine (S, Georgia)
I can still barely believe the Vikings traded down 20 spots — with a division rival — only to get back a third rounder and a swap of second rounders. That’s incredible. I really like Cine. He’s a heady, intelligent player who hits like a hammer. And one more time — you can’t go wrong when you draft these Georgia defenders.

Updated horizontal board 28/04

If you missed it earlier, check out the latest podcast which has a lot of sourced news in it. Also, you can view my final mock draft (posted last night) by clicking here.

Here’s my final horizontal board for draft day. I haven’t watched every player in the draft, obviously, but these are the players I have spent considerable time studying over the last few months.

Click the image to enlarge…

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Final 2022 NFL mock draft

This is the mock draft I will submit for Huddle Report scoring. I will publish the mock in list-form first and then there’s a lot to follow, including a Seahawks seven-round projection. Here we go…

Final 2022 mock draft

#1 Jacksonville — Travon Walker (DE, Georgia)
#2 Detroit — Aidan Hutchinson (DE, Michigan)
#3 Houston — Evan Neal (T, Alabama)
#4 NY Jets — Ikem Ekwonu (G, NC State)
#5 NY Giants — Charles Cross (T, Miss. State)
#6 Houston (v/CAR) — Derek Stingley Jr (CB, LSU)
#7 NY Giants — Sauce Gardner (CB, Cincinnati)
#8 Atlanta — Kayvon Thibodeaux (DE, Oregon)
#9 Philadelphia (v/SEA) — Jameson Williams (WR, Alabama)
#10 New York Jets — Jermaine Johnson (DE, Florida State)
#11 Washington — Kyle Hamilton (S, Notre Dame)
#12 Minnesota — Trent McDuffie (CB, Washington)
#13 Carolina (v/HOU) — Kenny Pickett (QB, Pittsburgh)
#14 Baltimore — Jordan Davis (DT, Georgia)
#15 Seattle (v/PHI) — Trevor Penning (T, Northern Iowa)
#16 New Orleans — Garrett Wilson (WR, Ohio State)
#17 LA Chargers — Chris Olave (WR, Ohio State)
#18 Philadelphia — Devin Lloyd (LB, Utah)
#19 New Orleans — Dax Hill (S, Michigan)
#20 Pittsburgh — Malik Willis (QB, Liberty)
#21 New England — Zion Johnson (G, Boston College)
#22 Green Bay — Drake London (WR, USC)
#23 Arizona — George Karlaftis (DE, Purdue)
#24 Dallas — Treylon Burks (WR, Arkansas)
#25 Buffalo — Andrew Booth (CB, Clemson)
#26 Tennessee — Tyler Smith (T, Tulsa)
#27 Tampa Bay — Travis Jones (DT, Connecticut)
#28 Green Bay — Devonte Wyatt (DT, Georgia)
#29 Kansas City — Kyler Gordon (CB, Washington)
#30 Kansas City — Boye Mafe (DE, Minnesota)
#31 Cincinnati — Logan Hall (DT, Houston)
#32 Detroit — Nakobe Dean (LB, Georgia)

There are two trades in the mock. The Texans move from #13 to #6 in a deal with Carolina. In return Carolina gets #73 (R3) and #108 (R4). The Seahawks move from #9 to #15. In return they get #101 (R3), #124 (R4) and #162 (R5).

Thoughts on the Seahawks’ pick

Let me be clear — this is not a reaction to anything that has been reported this week. Trevor Penning was the first player I wrote about at the start of the new draft cycle. Two weeks ago I wrote a piece about Penning, noting Seattle’s aims with their top pick could be pretty obvious. He fits so much of what they look for schematically and physically and I’ve mocked him to Seattle several times already.

Further to that, there are two gaping holes at offensive tackle. They’ve done nothing to address either position. Compare that to cornerback where they’ve at least brought in Artie Burns and re-signed Sidney Jones, or at pass rusher with the addition of Uchenna Nwosu.

I’d have to be bloody stupid not to pair Penning and the Seahawks together in this mock. All of the signs point to it happening — unless someone else takes him off the board before they pick.

I don’t want to believe the Desmond Ridder reports. I cannot for the life of me imagine taking him in round one. I just can’t. The accuracy issues, the absolute cringe-inducing misses at times, the robotic mechanics.

I contacted my source in the league today and he summed it up. He said Ridder has already reached his ceiling. And I agree. I also accept that might, sadly, be what the appeal is. He can probably come in and do what he was doing at Cincinnati in the NFL. The problem is, it’s just not good enough. So I’m not going to project that here. I’m going to hope they prefer to spend their picks at #40 and #41 further enhancing their offensive line and the front seven of the defense.

There are two other things I want to mention.

The Seahawks have a shell of a roster, frankly, and they need a major injection of talent to create competition, depth and improvement. I think they’ll set out to acquire as many picks as possible. Teams might be less inclined to trade this year because rounds 2-4 are so strong. I think Seattle’s intention though will be to use an absolute boat-load of picks to fill out their roster.

Trading down from #9 could still net a bit of a haul with picks in the third, fourth and fifth.

I do think there is also a scenario where the Seahawks wouldn’t trade down from #9. I think they’ll probably be open to adding a top, top player. Who constitutes a top, top player? My best guess would be Kayvon Thibodeaux or Derek Stingley Jr.

I have to address Jermaine Johnson. I’ve been saying for ages I don’t think there’s any chance he’ll be there at #9. In fairness, there’s still plenty of talk about that being the case in the media. If Stingley Jr rises though, someone has to drop. And it might be Johnson.

I would hope they would make that pick if he’s there. I just think everything points towards this team acquiring as much stock as possible and drafting a tackle. I hope I am wrong and if Johnson is available at #9, that they take him.

This is the problem when you go into a draft with glaring needs. The Seahawks would be better off, in my opinion, trying to get Johnson and say Tyler Linderbaum from this draft. Instead, they might end up trying to fill holes.

Other notes on the first round

— The Panthers are intriguing. In this mock the top offensive tackles were all gone at #6. I think that played into their hands for what they might actually want to do. With only one pick in the first three rounds, I think they’ll be desperate to trade down and get more stock. I also think they’re very open to drafting a QB, just not at #6. Remember — owner David Tepper is a significant booster at Pittsburgh. Is he prepared to risk Kenny Pickett going somewhere else and succeeding? How would that look? Plus Matt Rhule recruited Pickett when he was at Temple and got a commitment out of him. He only didn’t go to Temple because Rhule bolted for the Baylor gig. One other thing I’ve heard — Rhule has been the big decision maker in Carolina, not the GM. It’s worth noting because even if he’s fired soon, he might still have a bigger say than the GM.

— If Carolina drafts Pickett after trading down, I wonder if their next move will be to sign Duane Brown?

— I think the floor for Kayvon Thibodeaux is #8. Increasingly I think he’d be perfect for the Seahawks and the Seahawks would be perfect for him. He needs a coach like Pete Carroll. Seattle needs a player with his immense talent to rush the edge. Then again, they might have their heart set on trading down.

— The problem with trading down to #15 is, if the Seahawks want Penning, you run the serious risk of someone else taking him. The teams at #13 and #14 in my mock could select him. I wonder if that’s why they’ve been digging around Jordan Davis? Because if they move down to #15 the chances are Baltimore will choose between Penning or Davis. The Seahawks might go with whichever player is left.

Seahawks seven-round projection

#15 — Trevor Penning (T, Northern Iowa)
Not my first choice because I think he has significant technical flaws and I worry about him trying too hard to be a tough guy when he needs to concentrate on finding a level of fundamentally sound, controlled aggression. Even so — he fits the new blocking scheme perfectly in terms of size and traits and the huge gaping hole at tackle makes this extremely likely.

#40 — Tyler Linderbaum (C, Iowa)
Rather than trade up for a quarterback, I’m going to have the Seahawks give Drew Lock a run at this and focus on further improving the trenches. They might have to move up a few spots from #40 to land Linderbaum — perhaps even get back into the late first. However, it’s also been reported that no team has a firm first round grade on him. That’s understandable. At his size he simply doesn’t fit every scheme. He would fit in Miami, San Francisco and with the Rams but they’re three of the teams without any early picks. So why would Seattle do this, doubling down on the O-line? Carroll stood at the owners meeting and declared they liked Austin Blythe for his wrestling background. He also said they specifically wanted to try a new type of center — smaller in stature. Linderbaum has a strong wrestling background and he has an almost identical body to Blythe. And let’s be right here, Blythe is a hedge. Just as he was a hedge for Creed Humphrey a year ago. It stands to reason if they want this type of center, they’ll go after Linderbaum.

#41 — Channing Tindall (LB, Georgia)
I don’t think the Seahawks convinced their new defensive staff to take the gig on the proviso that they would get Shelby Harris, Uchenna Nwosu, Artie Burns and not a lot else. I’ve long thought the lack of activity at offensive tackle and linebacker was a massive tell for the draft. It’s also felt inevitable since that day at the combine, when the linebackers lit up Lucas Oil Field, that the Seahawks were not going to miss an opportunity to tap into the class. The Seahawks love special athletes at linebacker. They’ve often sought extreme speed, agility and explosive traits. Tindall ran a 4.47 at the combine and jumped a 42 inch vertical. He ran a reported 4.03 short shuttle at his Pro-day and the Seahawks are instantly attracted, it seems, to any linebacker running in the 4.0’s. Not only that, Tindall is a missile to the ball-carrier and showed at the Senior Bowl he will have immense special teams value.

#72 — Dameon Pierce (RB, Florida)
He has everything the Seahawks look for in a running back. He has the size, the explosive traits and the physical style and the ability to run through contact. He energises team-mates with the way he runs. From the first moment I watched him at Florida I thought, ‘they’re going to draft this guy’.

#101 — Michael Clemons (DE, Texas A&M)
They need a rotation of pass rushers and proper competition. The reason I’ve picked Clemons here is because he looks like a Greek God and he wins, on tape, the same way that Darrell Taylor won at Tennessee. He’s also an absolute BAMF who looks scary as hell and the Seahawks need a bit of that. Ideally the Seahawks take a pass rusher earlier than this. However — they’ve spent a fair bit of money on Nwosu and when they brought Mario Addison for a visit recently, that felt like a tell that they might need to find alternative options.

#109 — Logan Bruss (G, Wisconsin)
The Rams featured two converted tackles at guard (David Edwards, Austin Corbett) and I wonder if the Seahawks will try a similar plan? Bruss is well suited to kicking inside, he has massive hands that act like clamps and his testing profile is marvellous. He’s not only an explosive 3.08 TEF tester, he also ran a 4.55 short shuttle at the combine. I think Gabe Jackson’s days are numbered in Seattle and they’ll look for competition at guard.

#124 — Thayer Munford (T, Ohio State)
The Seahawks often tend to try their hand at a big-name offensive lineman with poor testing numbers in this range. Munford isn’t explosive or particularly athletic. However — he actually played well on tape at tackle and his size (6-6, 328lbs) and length (35 1/8 inch arms) is right up Seattle’s street. The Rams use big tackles. Munford’s a big tackle. Rob Havenstein is the opposite of athletic. So is Munford.

#145 — Percy Butler (S, Louisiana)
Like the Dameon Pierce pick, this one feels obvious. Butler is an absolute marvel as a gunner on special teams. We know the Seahawks love a good special teamer and this draft has a handful of day three prospects who offer excellent value on teams. With 4.3 speed I also think eventually you could develop his role into something more. He just looked like a Seahawk on tape.

#153 — Romeo Doubs (WR, Nevada)
There are no testing numbers available for Doubs but the Seahawks are less strict in this range. Why pair him with Seattle? He wins the way they want to win in the passing game — he gets downfield and makes plays. He stood out catching passes from Carson Strong. He’s got big hands and knows how to pluck the ball out of the air. He’s a good punt returner with big-time special teams value. He’s also known as an alpha type who is ultra-competitive. So basically, a Seahawk.

#162 — Carson Strong (QB, Nevada)
When I watched the Nevada games during the season, Strong impressed me. His arm talent was obvious and he made some mind-blowing completions. Then he stunk out the Senior Bowl. So I went back and studied the tape more closely. He played the entire 2021 season on one leg. He practically looked like Philip Rivers the time he played in the AFC Championship with a torn ACL. Initially I hadn’t noticed how bad it was. The knee wasn’t right and frankly, who knows if it ever will be? The Seahawks have been prepared to take chances in this range and if Strong falls — he’d be worth a shot to nothing. There’s definitely something there. It’s just a shame about the knee — and it’s possible he’ll never make it as a consequence.

#229 — Jaylen Watson (CB, Washington State)
I’m not sure Watson will last this long and frankly, in round seven, the chances are whoever they take here will be pretty obscure. He’s big, long, physical and although he lacks great speed he showed off subtle technique at the Senior Bowl to win plenty of reps and impress.

The full Seahawks seven-rounder

#15 — Trevor Penning (T, Northern Iowa)
#40 — Tyler Linderbaum (C, Iowa)
#41 — Channing Tindall (LB, Georgia)
#72 — Dameon Pierce (RB, Florida)
#101 — Michael Clemons (DE, Texas A&M)
#109 — Logan Bruss (G, Wisconsin)
#124 — Thayer Munford (T, Ohio State)
#145 — Percy Butler (S, Louisiana)
#153 — Romeo Doubs (WR, Nevada)
#162 — Carson Strong (QB, Nevada)
#229 — Jaylen Watson (CB, Washington State)

I like this group, frankly. It’s not flashy. It’s a building-block class with a lot of focus on the trenches. I’m fine with that.

Just don’t waste picks trading up for a quarterback.

I might regret not putting Sam Williams at #40. Still, we did talk about him recently as an early round option.

Let me know what you think in the comments section.

Lots of content coming your way tomorrow.

Enjoy the draft everyone.

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