Month: April 2023 (Page 1 of 5)

The Seahawks had a second consecutive A+ draft

Last year I gave the Seahawks an A+ grade for their 2022 draft haul. It proved to be a deserved grade, with many of the picks having an immediate impact while laying the foundations for the future.

This year, they’ve built on that success and taken the roster to another level — adding talent at various positions while improving the overall depth, quality, violence and leadership on the team. It deserves another A+.

It’s always easier to achieve success when you have more picks, especially in the early rounds. Yet the Seahawks have executed a plan well and deserve credit for the additions they’ve made over the last three days.

High character, high talent

A week ago I spoke to someone who’s been in the Seahawks locker room and asked what he expected from this 2023 class. Here’s what I wrote in a corresponding article, discussing the answer:

The source suggested Seattle was seeking the ‘next wave’ of leadership. That the way they drafted a year ago, plus the decision to bring back Bobby Wagner and Jarran Reed, had been a concerted effort to create a particular dynamic in the locker room.

It’s felt that the pick at #5 will need to add to that. It’ll need to be someone who can come in and fit into that culture. The description used was ‘firebrand’ — someone with the grit, energy and tone-setting qualities that can help elevate this team. The attitude has to match the talent.

Devon Witherspoon completely fit the bill at #5 and alongside Derick Hall could be the future soul of this team. They are physical and aggressive on the field, helping to set a tone. Off the field they are driven and focused. They’ll lead by example and drive the culture for the future.

All of the other picks fit in behind this. They didn’t take any character risks. They’re determined to create a locker room that can come together with a common goal, support each other and drive towards a Championship run in the future.

It’s not a surprise — they’ve stated their intentions multiple times over the last 12 months. It wasn’t difficult to project they’d continue with that plan, having put the success of the 2022 class down to a renewed focus on character.

The roster is coming together, on and off the field.

Best player available is the right approach

Free agency is for addressing key needs, the draft is for adding talent.

That should always be the approach. The Seahawks would probably admit that, for several years, they didn’t follow this plan. They nickel and dime’d certain positions in the veteran market then forced needs in the draft.

This is the second year in a row where the plan has been on point. They made a big free agency splash to add Dre’Mont Jones — a much needed impact defensive lineman. They followed that up with Jarran Reed before adding the likes of Bobby Wagner and Julian Love. Talent was acquired at every level of the defense and their big investment in Jones added a quality player at a good age.

That set up the draft for BPA. They didn’t force anything. They picked players where the value was high, rapidly upgrading their talent across the board.

This is a more physical team in 2023

Devon Witherspoon was the most violent player in the draft. Derick Hall is very aggressive and tough. You’ll get a shift up front from Anthony Bradford and Cameron Young. Zach Charbonnet is a classic Seahawks runner who drives through contact. The Michigan duo had a lot of success on a BIG-10 winning team.

The Seahawks are set up to be far more competitive, including in the trenches. There’s still work to do but it took the 49ers nine years and seven first round picks to create their excellent defense. Rome wasn’t built in a day (or two off-seasons).

Finally, a commitment to the pass rush

For years they talked about fixing the unit and then resorted to band-aid players like Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin. Now, there’s serious investment in the rush:

Derick Hall — R2
Boye Mafe — R2
Darrell Taylor — R2
Uchenna Nwosu — Big money FA
Dre’Mont Jones — Big money FA

There’s a real chance to get after teams now and improve the unit once and for all.

Stop moaning about running backs

As noted yesterday, plenty of teams spent high picks on the position again this year despite already having primary runners. The Seahawks now have a fantastic 1-2 punch and insurance against injury issues. They have Zach Charbonnet and Ken Walker on cheap contracts for the next few years. The Seahawks want to run the ball and they’ve never been any good relying on plug-in players at the position. They need talent and they’ve added talent.

Don’t sleep on Kenny McIntosh either. That guy can play. He was integral to Georgia’s National Championship win last season.

The Seahawks have a loaded offense

Young book-end tackles. Three legit receivers. Depth at tight end. Two top running backs. Geno Smith must be salivating at the weapons he has to work with. This could be the most explosive and dynamic offense this team has ever had. They are stacked.

Deep into day three they are finding contributors

Last year it was Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen. This year, the six players drafted in rounds 4-7 can equally come in and compete, provide depth and potentially have a significant impact. That was the foundation of their great drafts between 2010-12 and it’s happening again.

Value across the board

In my mock I had Devon Witherspoon at #6 and Jaxon Smith-Njigba at #20. They were drafted at #5 and #20. I had Derrick Hall as a high second rounder and Zach Charbonnet in the top-50. They were taken at #37 and #52. Anthony Bradford and Cameron Young both had third round grades on my horizontal board and they got them in round four. Olu Oluwatimi was a fourth rounder, taken in round five. I had Mike Morris in round five. I had Jerrick Reed II in round four, they got him in round six. I had Kenny McIntosh graded in round three, they took him in round seven.

No reaches, nothing forced. Pure talent acquisition.

A nice bonus

Despite filling out their roster with a cluster of picks, they also managed to add an extra 2024 third rounder courtesy of the Broncos. They did it by trading out of round three, then taking a player (Anthony Bradford) I had graded as a high third rounder anyway.

The deal is all the better because per the draft trade chart, Seattle was only due approximately a sixth rounder in return. Getting a 2024 third rounder is daylight robbery.

What are the concerns?

The simple fact is Geno Smith is in a prove-it year. He can earn a minimum of $32.1m next year and millions more in incentives. With an obvious out on his contract, he’ll need to justify the deal. He’s capable but it’s no given.

If he fails this season, it’s a concern. Drew Lock is only contracted for a season and there’s currently no long term plan. They don’t want to end up in a situation like the Colts, going year-to-year at the position. Neither do they want to let down a good roster with issues at the most important position. Desperation in 2024 to get a QB will be a recipe for potential disaster.

Even then, there’s not a lot they could do this year. There was no obvious option to trade up for the top-three quarterbacks and they clearly didn’t rate Will Levis or Hendon Hooker enough to draft them.

It will be a source of some discomfort that the Seahawks are in basically the same situation as last season but with a greater financial outlay on Smith and Drew Lock. I think they would prefer to have a longer term plan in place, ideally.

I talked more about this subject here.

Elsewhere, they are still a bit light at defensive tackle. They’ve upgraded this off-season but they need more depth. It won’t be a surprise if they now create some cap room (somehow) to bring back Poona Ford and possibly one of Al Woods or Shelby Harris.

Conclusion

As with last year, I just wanted to see a proper plan. With free agency and this draft, the plan is obvious. They are building a team, not reaching for needs, they’re adding talent across the board and the roster is taking shape nicely.

The discipline and approach has been admirable. The Seahawks continue to head in the right direction.

My instant reaction notes on every pick

#5 Seattle — Devon Witherspoon (CB, Illinois)
The most violent player in the draft. His tape is incredibly fun to watch. He levels people. He is a total throwback to the LOB days. He has shown so much grit in his career as a no-star recruit going to the JUCO’s, then Illinois and then progressing rapidly. He can be a tremendous NFL cornerback. I think this is a good addition and signifies two things. The Seahawks ARE focusing on BPA and they ARE focusing on character. Witherspoon was one of only nine legit first rounders on my horizontal board.

Bob McGinn’s scouting sources on Devon Witherspoon:

“I love the kid,” said one scout. “I love his interview. I love the way he plays. He’s got this presence to him. You know he’s locked in, he’s all about ball. He doesn’t care that he’s 185 pounds. He carries himself like he’s a bigger dude, almost like he’s invincible. If Witherspoon had Gonzalez’ size you’d have a top-10 corner.”

“Faster than everybody thinks,” said a second scout. “Wants to play the best man on the field. Got change of direction, acceleration, feel for the game. Very good tackler for the cornerback position. Top 15. He’s got everything you want.”

“I think he should (be drafted in the top 10),” another scout said. “He had a sensational senior season. He contested everything. He’s got a lot of fight. He’s on the borderline height-weight. His speed is good.”

“Hell of a football player,” a fourth scout said. “All he did was press. That’s all they did.”

There were no negative comments on Witherspoon.

#20 Seattle — Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR, Ohio State)
I find this pick very interesting, intriguing and a bit surprising. I thought his lack of great speed would be an issue in Seattle. However, his agility testing is remarkable. Before his injury-hit season last year, he was very highly regarded. A lot of people had JSN as a top-15 pick so again, it’s another sign that the Seahawks are very much in BPA mode. They haven’t used either first round pick on the D-line. It’ll be exciting to watch JSN and see how he gets on. If he delivers, what an offense this could be.

Bob McGinn’s scouting sources on Jaxon Smith-Njigba:

“I thought he was Adam Thielen,” one scout said, referring to Smith-Njigba. “He can get deep because of his route-running ability, whether it’s a double move or a little shake. His 40 was fast enough for me. He may be the most consistent out of the bunch. He can do some outside stuff, but he’s mainly best in the slot.”

“I do like him,” said a second scout. “He can be a good pro. More in the vein of a big slot kind of guy. He catches the ball. He’s competitive. You just wonder if he has the top-end juice.”

“I’m really concerned about his speed,” said a third scout. “The (4.52) is not real good nowadays, and I don’t think he plays that fast. He plays like 4.6 to me. He’s a really good player. I just don’t see that explosiveness.”

“He’s one of the most overrated players in the draft,” said a fourth scout. “He’s got good hands, not great hands. He’s got good vision and run after but he doesn’t run away from anybody and he’s not particularly elusive. He can find holes in zones, and he’s tough. He’ll take a hit to make catch. I don’t see special traits. Has to be a slot. Not fast enough to play outside. I’d rather have (Zay) Flowers because he’s really fast and really good after the catch. Sounds like he might be a solid second-round pick, and I didn’t see that.”

#37 Seattle — Derick Hall (EDGE, Auburn)
The Seahawks didn’t waste any time making their pick. They take Derick Hall, the top remaining edge rusher on my board. I had him with a high second round pick so this fits. He is an alpha dog and an absolute culture-setter. This fits perfectly what they have been saying, and I have been constantly repeating, that character is king. He also ran a 1.55 10-yard split and a 4.20 short shuttle. He has long arms. These are ‘Seahawk’ traits and a ‘Seahawk’ personality. Big fan of the pick. Seattle is finally loaded at the edge.

Here’s Bob McGinn’s scouting sources on Derick Hall:

“Love the kid,” said one scout. “High-effort, motor guy that isn’t athletically gifted enough to play outside linebacker. He’s got to be a 4-3 defensive end, an undersized 4-3 defensive end.”

“Makes out-of-position plays,” a second scout said. “Does all kinds of things to make plays. Has a hump move, the Reggie White move. That’s pretty good for a guy that’s 252. Very athletic with great acceleration. Is effective with his long arms. Can outrun the drop-back of the tackle and backdoor the quarterback.”

“He was the leader, the bright light in the dark room with (coach Bryan) Harsin and all that controversy,” said a third scout. “It’s a disaster of a year, and he held it together. He’s a hard-charging guy. He’s not going to be a premier 12 sacks-a-year guy, but he’s going to get six to eight. You’re going to know exactly what you’re getting. He’ll raise the level of the guys around him. Very, very hard worker. Vocal leader. One of the few legit leaders that you find. There just aren’t that many of them. Everybody’s on their phone or scared to speak up.”

“Try hard,” said a fourth scout. “Gets swallowed up at the point of attack. More of a straight-line, effort (rusher). Tweener.”

I don’t think he’s a tweener, for what it’s worth. I think he can be Carl Lawson.

#52 Seattle — Zach Charbonnet (RB, UCLA)
I’ve been a big fan of Charbonnet for a long time. He was the third running back on my board behind only the two guys taken in the top-12 yesterday. He’s so tough and physical and will run through contact. He’s explosive and has ideal size for the Seahawks. This is the range I thought he would go in and for a team determined to run the ball as a priority, this creates a thunderous, dynamic one-two punch.

Bob McGinn scouting sources on Zach Charbonnet:

“He’s so subtle and smooth and effective and athletic,” said one scout. “Just got great feet. Knows how to run the football. Smart. Catches the ball. He’s going to be undervalued. This guy’s way more athletic than AJ Dillon.”

“He’s been kind of the heartbeat of that team for the last two years,” said a second scout. “He had a really good game two years ago when they beat LSU (38-27). He’s done really, really well for himself. He fits any scheme. Not the fastest guy but a good, patient runner. He’s powerful. What will hurt him a little bit is he’s not a huge threat in the passing game, but I think he’s good enough. He probably gets drafted lower than he should. His production was obvious. He’s got a lot to offer.”

“Straight-line speed, vision, tough, gritty. Stiff in change of direction. Upright runner. Does run hard but with less power because he’s too stiff and upright. Non-elusive. He’s not as good as Hassan Haskins was in a similar kind of role. Haskins was a better athlete.”

R4 (#108) — Anthony Bradford (G, LSU)
I really liked Anthony Bradford and had a high third round grade on him. He reminded me a lot of Damien Lewis. He’s an explosive tester with a 3.17 TEF score and an outstanding 105.2 weighted TEF mark. Clearly, explosive traits are still a big focus for Seattle. He also ran a very good 5.08 forty at 333lbs and he has the length they like. Just a really good pick and he has the potential to be a long-term starter at guard. Excellent pick. I would’ve been happy to take him at #83.

Bob McGinn’s scouting sources on Anthony Bradford:

“Kind of an interesting guy,” said one scout. “He’s a big guy that runs well. Big body with strength. He had a nice strength match vs. (Georgia’s Jalen) Carter. He matched strength against him. Most of the time Carter just grabs the guard and would throw him aside. Adequate movement and quickness. Has body control and balance. With that size and speed he’s probably up to the fourth round.”

“He could (start) in the right scheme,” a second scout said. “He’s more of a gap-scheme player. Early-to-mid Day 3.”

R4 (#123) — Cameron Young (DT, Mississippi State)
The Seahawks are smashing this out of the park and have taken two blog favourites to start day three. Cameron Young had a fantastic Senior Bowl and like Abraham Lucas a year ago, received no attention. It was bizarre. He is very powerful with long 34.5 inch arms. He can control blockers with that length and he can anchor down or barge his way through contact. He is better than some of the other defensive tackles already taken. This is a home-run selection and what a round four for the Seahawks.

R5 (#151) — Mike Morris (DE, Michigan)
There was a time where people wondered whether Morris could be a second rounder. He started to receive a lot of buzz and was being touted as the next big pass rusher out of Michigan, following in the footsteps of David Ojabo. I thought he was outstanding against Michigan State in the rivalry/revenge game — playing with his hair on fire and the bit between his teeth. I also thought in other less important games he played well within himself. At the combine, he was still an interesting prospect but he laid a total egg running a poor 5.04 and then following it up with a 5.08 at his pro-day. There’s something there and the Seahawks are banking on bringing it out of him. I had him in round five.

Bob McGinn described Mike Morris as a ‘scouts nightmare’:

A first-year starter, he led the team in sacks with 7 ½ and was named Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year. Before the combine, one personnel man predicted he’d be a Top 50 pick for sure. Then Morris (6-5, 274) ran 5.04 at the combine and even slower (5.08) at pro day. “I think he ran himself out of that (edge) position,” said another scout. Perhaps Morris’ best chance now would be to bulk up to 295-300 and try as a defensive end in a 3-4.

R5 (#154) — Olusegun Oluwatimi (C, Michigan)
I like Oluwatimi and praised him several times during the season for his solid performances. He won the Outland trophy and played on a double-award winning Michigan O-line. However, he has impossibly small hands (8.5 inches) for a 309lbs blocker which is a little bit odd. He’s explosive (9-2 broad jump, 29 inch vertical) rather than agile (4.68 short shuttle) which again hints at Seattle maybe returning back to explosive interior blockers rather than outright copying the Rams’ system. He will be able to compete quickly, he’s played a lot of football and he’s a solid pick. I had him in round four.

Bob McGinn’s scouting sources on Olusegun Oluwatimi:

He didn’t win the Heisman Trophy but just about everything else: the Outland Trophy, the Rimington Award and consensus All-America honors. “I don’t know how he got the award as best lineman,” one scout said. “That was wild to me. He’s an undersized center only. Average athlete, quickness, strength and instincts. Lacks power and finish. He does a lot of good things but you wouldn’t want him out there full-time.”

Began his career in 2017 at Air Force and redshirted. Spent 2018-’21 at Virginia, starting 35 games at center his last three seasons. Moved to Michigan in ’22. “I’m not sure if there is a lot of love for him out there but he can play,” a second scout said. “It seems people either really like him or they hate him. I’d take him over Schmitz. He’s athletic enough. He’s strong, plays hard, plays smart.”

His 29 on the Wonderlic paced the top six centers. “I’ve seen him at Virginia and Michigan,” said a third scout. “He’s got high pad level. He’s got no strength. Doesn’t know how to use his hands. He does have some quickness and can get to the second level. He plays so high and they just push him all over. I didn’t like the guy.”

Arms were 32 5/8, hands a minuscule 8 5/8. “He’s going to go on Day 2,” a fourth scout said. “He crushed the interview process. He’s not like a wow-you athlete but more than athletic enough. Smart as shit. He’s a great communicator. He kicked ass at the Senior Bowl. He’s going to start next year.”

R6 (#198) — Jerrick Reed II (S, New Mexico)
I had Jerrick Reed graded in round four. He’s very aggressive running downfield and attacking ball-carriers. His testing is good and he has positional flexibility at safety and nickel. He can get around the field with range. Reed should be able to provide immediate special teams value and he’s a good candidate to replace Ryan Neal.

R7 (#237) — Kenny McIntosh (RB, Georgia)
What an end to the draft! I had McIntosh graded in round three. Kirby Smart called him a ‘BAMF’ and you see it on tape. He’s so physical and competitive. He drove Georgia’s running game last year. He’s a tremendous receiver out of the backfield. He has an incredibly engaging personality. This is a seventh round pick that could look like a steal in the future.

Video reaction on each pick between rounds 1-5

Live stream with Robbie (including live reaction to the Kenny McIntosh pick)

If you’ve enjoyed the blog this draft season and want to support the site via Patreon — (click here)

NFL Draft 2023 — Live Blog — Rounds 4-7

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

Don’t forget — I’ll be doing an instant reaction live stream immediately after the draft concludes. We may start this during round seven, so keep checking for updates.

NO tipping picks in the comments section

Seahawks day three picks

R4 (#108) — Anthony Bradford (G, LSU)
I really liked Anthony Bradford and had a high third round grade on him. He reminded me a lot of Damien Lewis. He’s an explosive tester with a 3.17 TEF score and an outstanding 105.2 weighted TEF mark. Clearly explosive traits are still a big focus for Seattle. He also ran a very good 5.08 forty at 333lbs and he has the length they like. Just a really good pick and he has the potential to be a long-term starter at guard. Excellent pick. I would’ve been happy to take him at #83.

Bob McGinn’s scouting sources on Anthony Bradford:

“Kind of an interesting guy,” said one scout. “He’s a big guy that runs well. Big body with strength. He had a nice strength match vs. (Georgia’s Jalen) Carter. He matched strength against him. Most of the time Carter just grabs the guard and would throw him aside. Adequate movement and quickness. Has body control and balance. With that size and speed he’s probably up to the fourth round.”

“He could (start) in the right scheme,” a second scout said. “He’s more of a gap-scheme player. Early-to-mid Day 3.”

R4 (#123) — Cameron Young (DT, Mississippi State)
The Seahawks are smashing this out of the park and have taken two blog favourites to start day three. Cameron Young had a fantastic Senior Bowl and like Abraham Lucas a year ago, received no attention. It was bizarre. He is very powerful with long 34.5 inch arms. He can control blockers with that length and he can anchor down or barge his way through contact. He is better than some of the other defensive tackles already taken. This is a home-run selection and what a round four for the Seahawks.

R5 (#151) — Mike Morris (DE, Michigan)
There was a time where people wondered whether Morris could be a second rounder. He started to receive a lot of buzz and was being touted as the next big pass rusher out of Michigan, following in the footsteps of David Ojabo. I thought he was outstanding against Michigan State in the rivalry/revenge game — playing with his hair on fire and the bit between his teeth. I also thought in other less important games he played well within himself. At the combine, he was still an interesting prospect but he laid a total egg running a poor 5.04 and then following it up with a 5.08 at his pro-day. There’s something there and the Seahawks are banking on bringing it out of him. I had him in round five.

Bob McGinn described Mike Morris as a ‘scouts nightmare’:

A first-year starter, he led the team in sacks with 7 ½ and was named Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year. Before the combine, one personnel man predicted he’d be a Top 50 pick for sure. Then Morris (6-5, 274) ran 5.04 at the combine and even slower (5.08) at pro day. “I think he ran himself out of that (edge) position,” said another scout. Perhaps Morris’ best chance now would be to bulk up to 295-300 and try as a defensive end in a 3-4.

R5 (#154) — Olusegun Oluwatimi (C, Michigan)
I like Oluwatimi and praised him several times during the season for his solid performances. He won the Outland trophy and played on a double-award winning Michigan O-line. However, he has impossibly small hands (8.5 inches) for a 309lbs blocker which is a little bit odd. He’s explosive (9-2 broad jump, 29 inch vertical) rather than agile (4.68 short shuttle) which again hints at Seattle maybe returning back to explosive interior blockers rather than outright copying the Rams’ system. He will be able to compete quickly, he’s played a lot of football and he’s a solid pick. I had him in round four.

Bob McGinn’s scouting sources on Olusegun Oluwatimi:

He didn’t win the Heisman Trophy but just about everything else: the Outland Trophy, the Rimington Award and consensus All-America honors. “I don’t know how he got the award as best lineman,” one scout said. “That was wild to me. He’s an undersized center only. Average athlete, quickness, strength and instincts. Lacks power and finish. He does a lot of good things but you wouldn’t want him out there full-time.”

Began his career in 2017 at Air Force and redshirted. Spent 2018-’21 at Virginia, starting 35 games at center his last three seasons. Moved to Michigan in ’22. “I’m not sure if there is a lot of love for him out there but he can play,” a second scout said. “It seems people either really like him or they hate him. I’d take him over Schmitz. He’s athletic enough. He’s strong, plays hard, plays smart.”

His 29 on the Wonderlic paced the top six centers. “I’ve seen him at Virginia and Michigan,” said a third scout. “He’s got high pad level. He’s got no strength. Doesn’t know how to use his hands. He does have some quickness and can get to the second level. He plays so high and they just push him all over. I didn’t like the guy.”

Arms were 32 5/8, hands a minuscule 8 5/8. “He’s going to go on Day 2,” a fourth scout said. “He crushed the interview process. He’s not like a wow-you athlete but more than athletic enough. Smart as shit. He’s a great communicator. He kicked ass at the Senior Bowl. He’s going to start next year.”

R6 (#198) — Jerrick Reed II (S, New Mexico)
I had Jerrick Reed graded in round four. He’s very aggressive running downfield and attacking ball-carriers. His testing is good and he has positional flexibility at safety and nickel. He can get around the field with range. Reed should be able to provide immediate special teams value and he’s a good candidate to replace Ryan Neal.

R7 (#237) — Kenny McIntosh (RB, Georgia)
What an end to the draft! I had McIntosh graded in round three. Kirby Smart called him a ‘BAMF’ and you see it on tape. He’s so physical and competitive. He drove Georgia’s running game last year. He’s a tremendous receiver out of the backfield. He has an incredibly engaging personality. This is a seventh round pick that could look like a steal in the future.

Are the Seahawks already thinking ahead?

Is John Schneider already looking ahead to 2024 at a certain key position?

In his day-two press conference, John Schneider delivered the following line when asked about the trade-down with Denver:

“We had a goal going into this thing to try and get into next year a little bit, next year’s draft. Throughout the process we had a couple of upsets in there, meaning we had some guys go that we were interested in. It happens. Especially early in the draft. So yeah, we felt real blessed to get into a deal with Denver and acquire that third round pick.”

I’m fascinated by this comment.

Firstly, the reference to having ‘upsets’. If he meant players came off the board in round three that they liked, making it easier to justify moving out of the round, that would make obvious sense. Yet he qualifies the comment by referencing upsets early in the draft — and connects it to trading down for 2024 stock.

A follow up question was asked about next year’s class:

“Yep, next year’s class is supposed to be really good. Not slating this year’s class, there’s just a common theme, I think everyone knows it.”

My initial thought when I heard him talking about upsets was to imagine he might be talking about the big Houston trade taking Will Anderson off the board. Or the fact Lukas Van Ness and Will McDonald went in the top-half of round one, perhaps influencing the picks at #20 and #37 in a way they weren’t necessarily anticipating.

I also wondered if Alabama’s Byron Young being taken at #70 was a setback. He not only would’ve filled a need, he’s a really good player and he fits their focus on locker-room alpha’s.

Yet why would missing out on any of these players be relevant to getting stock in 2024?

Is it possible he’s actually talking about the quarterbacks? There was all sorts of media buzz about C.J. Stroud falling (he didn’t) and there was a broad expectation Indianapolis would take Will Levis over Anthony Richardson (they didn’t). Could the ‘upsets’ actually be these two players going in the top-four?

After all, several late media reports connected the Seahawks to serious interest in Richardson. Wanting to get stock next year ahead of a ‘better class’ would make sense at the quarterback position.

Let’s not forget, Geno Smith is very much on a prove-it deal. The out in his contract gives the team a lot of security. His cap hit in 2024 will be no lower than $31.2m and there are achievable escalators to push it closer to $40m. It’s stating the obvious to suggest they’ll need to think carefully about that kind of financial outlay, even if he plays fairly well.

They are going to have to make a call at the end of the year. This isn’t a firm, long-term commitment. It’s plausible they were very prepared to spend a rare top-five pick on the position to plan ahead. Yet the players came off the board they were interested in, meaning there was nothing they could do.

Having extra stock for 2024 can help prepare the team for the possibility of needing to get a QB next year, possibly with some aggression. Trading up this year simply wasn’t realistic. They couldn’t pay the fortune Carolina paid for #1, the Texans clearly weren’t going to cough-up #2 and the Cardinals were always going to be more inclined to discuss with a non-division rival. Houston gave them a great deal.

The other thing to mention here is the reference to next year being a better class. A lot of people think next years’ quarterback class is superior. I think people mistake the reasons why.

The focus is always on the projected top two QB’s — Caleb Williams and Drake Maye. I don’t think that’s the point. Virtually the entire middle class of the 2023 quarterback class returned to college football. Jim Nagy mentioned in our interview how this had impacted the Senior Bowl. I then spoke to a top personnel man a few weeks later who said that basically there were the top-four 2023 quarterbacks, Hendon Hooker, “then a bunch of six and seven rounders”.

Here’s a list of players who realistically would’ve intrigued teams in this draft, who returned to school:

Michael Penix Jr
Bo Nix
Tyler Van Dyke
Jayden Daniels
Spencer Rattler
KJ Jefferson
Devin Leary
Cam Ward
Grayson McCall
Sam Hartman
Will Rogers

None of these players would’ve been high picks and some would’ve been day three or UDFA types. Others could’ve padded out the middle rounds. I suspect Penix Jr could’ve worked his way into day two because of his arm strength and character. Nix has his admirers and Rattler finished the season on fire for South Carolina.

All of this group will now be part of the 2024 class, which will also have Williams, Maye and Quinn Ewers. I also think Tulane’s Michael Pratt has shown enough to warrant serious intrigue for next season and some people like Florida State’s Jordan Travis.

So the difference between next year and this year will be the existence of a middle class. I am not a subscriber to the idea that Williams and Maye are streets ahead of Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud. But this year simply didn’t have any depth at quarterback beyond the top five.

Having extra 2024 stock will give Seattle a chance to be flexible and develop a QB plan, if required, as the 2023 season unfolds. Even if you’re the biggest Geno Smith fan on the planet, you have to concede the Seahawks need to be mindful of the future.

Alternatively, Schneider’s comments might not be in relation to the 2023 quarterbacks at all. He could be talking about the Texans’ trade for Will Anderson or the likes of Van Ness and McDonald departing. That could simply be something on the top of his mind that just came out during a press conference. Yet I do think the objective of getting extra 2024 stock is tied to the fact the team doesn’t have a long term solution at quarterback. They are going year-to-year and find themselves in the exact same position they did 12 months ago, albeit with more money going to Geno Smith and Drew Lock.

Make no mistake, they’ll be wary of that — but I think they’re also right not to panic. Schneider, in a later answer, referenced you can make ‘huge mistakes’ when you do that. He’s obviously right. I compared the Geno situation favourably to Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes as a basis for selecting a QB this year. It’s worth noting that Alex Smith enabled the Chiefs to pick their moment. They ran with him for multiple seasons until the time was right to make their move for Mahomes.

You also need to avoid becoming the Colts, too. You can build a very good roster and feel like every year you’ll be in with a shot. But if you’re relying on year-to-year solutions, it can undermine everything when things don’t work out or suddenly change.

It’ll be interesting to see if they take a flier on anyone today. Dorian Thompson-Robinson has been one of my favourite players to watch in college football for two years. He’s a dynamic athlete, he’s incredibly creative and he has the fabled 10-inch hands despite being undersized. He has an outstanding arm. DTR can also be erratic, hot-headed and he suffers from the same issue as Bryce Young in terms of how will he withstand a NFL beating.

Jaren Hall had a tremendous start to last season before tailing off. He looked like Russell Wilson at his best for BYU but we didn’t see his best consistently enough. Jake Haener has his admirers, as does Tanner McKee. Stetson Bennett is very talented but would work against their focus on character. Mac Duggan would fit the competitive nature they’re looking for but he’s just so physically limited.

I think it’s a challenging group to justify adding at the expense of some of the other players available at different positions.

Here’s a reminder of my updated draft board (click the image to enlarge):

Schneider is a Ron Wolf disciple and they’re brought up with a passion for quarterbacks and scouting the position. I sense they’re already thinking ahead to the future and trying to plot a long-term vision. For that reason, once this 2023 draft ends, I’ll begin the next challenge of scouting the 2024 class of QB’s.

If you missed my thoughts on the first two days for the Seahawks, click here.

If you missed our end-of-day-two live stream watch it here:

If you’ve enjoyed the blog this draft season and want to support the site via Patreon — (click here)

So far, so good for the Seahawks

The Seahawks clearly went into this draft with a couple of key intentions.

1. To draft the next group of leaders and culture setters for the locker room

2. To stick to the board and draft best player available, increasing the talent level without focusing on needs

You can’t switch from the plan halfway through the draft.

I’ve noticed some Seahawks fans questioning the decision to draft Derick Hall and Zach Charbonnet with holes remaining at defensive tackle and center.

Here’s the thing though. If Hall is rated higher than say Keeanu Benton and Zacch Pickens, you’re breaking the BPA approach by not taking him. It also happens that Hall is a fantastic leader, captain and alpha presence. If you’re equally determined to add that to your locker room, you’re going against that aspect of the plan too.

I had Hall rated as a top-45 player. Going into round two, he was the highest rated edge rusher left on my board. He has immense athletic potential — running a 1.55 10-yard split (an elite time), a 4.20 short shuttle and he has 34.5 inch arms.

His upside is far higher than any of the remaining defensive tackles — and they needed another pass rusher. Uchenna Nwosu has only a year remaining on his contract and Darrell Taylor might not be re-signed for the long term.

Even if both players stay in Seattle, for the first time in years the Seahawks have an impressive, young stable of quality pass rushers.

Gone are the days of relying on Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin. They’ve finally done some work to fix the pass rush.

With Charbonnet, there’s a real sense of déjà vu.

Plenty of people on Twitter were complaining about the Ken Walker pick a year ago, mainly because Seattle already had Rashaad Penny and it was seen as a waste of resources. It proved to be an inspired selection when Penny got injured again.

Now the Seahawks, who want to run the ball as a feature, have two of the best young backs in the NFL and a legit 1-2 punch. They’ll be able to survive injuries at the position and keep their two guys fresh. The modern NFL is a two-back league.

Further to that, both Walker and Charbonnet will not be earning big salaries over the next few years. They both cost second round picks — a premium asset. Yet their impact on the salary cap is minimal and there’s a chance to get real value out of both players.

Charbonnet has been a blog favourite for two years, dating back to when we thought he might declare for the 2022 draft. I’ve had him graded in round two for a long time and had him marked as a top-50 talent, expected to go in the range that he did.

People mock the Seahawks for their interest in running backs but this isn’t just a Seattle thing. The Falcons and Lions both drafted running backs in the top-12 this year, despite neither team being desperate at the position. After the Charbonnet pick at #52, four more runners were taken in round three by the Saints, Titans, Dolphins and Jaguars. All but Miami already had feature runners.

The league values the position higher than Twitter does.

I would argue that John Michael Schmitz, a center a lot of people wanted, is a solid but unspectacular player. Charbonnet is solid with the potential to be spectacular. He is big, explosive and runs through contact. He’s a good pass-catcher and he’ll be able to impact games quickly.

I don’t think there’s a guarantee, for example, that Schmitz is a better starter than Evan Brown. I graded Luke Wypler in the same range and he’s still available.

A lot of people didn’t want the Seahawks to draft a quarterback and yet, when the team does what it can to make Geno Smith’s life as easy as possible so he can thrive, there are complaints.

I’d rather be excited about the arsenal Smith has to work with. Metcalf, Lockett, Smith-Njigba, the tight ends, Walker and Charbonnet. All with two, young book-end tackles entering year two and the chance to bolster the interior O-line tomorrow.

Let’s also remember that the blocking scheme Seattle is using has also succeeded without big investments on the offensive line.

So I think the Seahawks are continuing to execute their plan to perfection. Just add talent and get better. So far no pick has been a reach, at least according to the horizontal board I put together. There’s ample talent left to finish with a flourish — with four picks coming in rounds 4-5.

Plus, they absolutely fleeced the Broncos in a trade — getting a third rounder next year from a deal that really should’ve only produced a late round pick this year per the draft trade charts.

One final point. I know a lot of people want to create a loaded defensive front full of top picks. Let’s not forget it took the 49ers nine years to create their D-line/defense. The Seahawks made a big splash on day one of free agency to land Dre’Mont Jones. They brought in the dependable Jarran Reed too.

Add a nose tackle on day three and some depth, then work to create some money to bring back Shelby Harris or Al Woods or Poona Ford and there’s a chance for growth. It might not be an elite D-line but it can be better with some day-three moves and some re-signings. The Jones signing in particular was a big splash move we shouldn’t forget when evaluating the off-season as a whole.

This has been a successful two days for the Seahawks. They’re getting better. They’re not the finished article yet, far from it. But the two drafts they’ve had since the Russell Wilson trade have been executed very well and they’re on the right path.

Bob McGinn’s scouting sources on Derick Hall:

“Love the kid,” said one scout. “High-effort, motor guy that isn’t athletically gifted enough to play outside linebacker. He’s got to be a 4-3 defensive end, an undersized 4-3 defensive end.”

“Makes out-of-position plays,” a second scout said. “Does all kinds of things to make plays. Has a hump move, the Reggie White move. That’s pretty good for a guy that’s 252. Very athletic with great acceleration. Is effective with his long arms. Can outrun the drop-back of the tackle and backdoor the quarterback.”

“He was the leader, the bright light in the dark room with (coach Bryan) Harsin and all that controversy,” said a third scout. “It’s a disaster of a year, and he held it together. He’s a hard-charging guy. He’s not going to be a premier 12 sacks-a-year guy, but he’s going to get six to eight. You’re going to know exactly what you’re getting. He’ll raise the level of the guys around him. Very, very hard worker. Vocal leader. One of the few legit leaders that you find. There just aren’t that many of them. Everybody’s on their phone or scared to speak up.”

“Try hard,” said a fourth scout. “Gets swallowed up at the point of attack. More of a straight-line, effort (rusher). Tweener.”

Bob McGinn’s scouting sources on Zach Charbonnet:

“He’s so subtle and smooth and effective and athletic,” said one scout. “Just got great feet. Knows how to run the football. Smart. Catches the ball. He’s going to be undervalued. This guy’s way more athletic than AJ Dillon.”

“He’s been kind of the heartbeat of that team for the last two years,” said a second scout. “He had a really good game two years ago when they beat LSU (38-27). He’s done really, really well for himself. He fits any scheme. Not the fastest guy but a good, patient runner. He’s powerful. What will hurt him a little bit is he’s not a huge threat in the passing game, but I think he’s good enough. He probably gets drafted lower than he should. His production was obvious. He’s got a lot to offer.”

“Straight-line speed, vision, tough, gritty. Stiff in change of direction. Upright runner. Does run hard but with less power because he’s too stiff and upright. Non-elusive. He’s not as good as Hassan Haskins was in a similar kind of role. Haskins was a better athlete.”

Remaining picks

Round 4, #108
Round 4, #123
Round 5, #151
Round 5, #154
Round 6, #198
Round 7, #237

Updated horizontal board

Click the image to enlarge:

If you missed our end-of-day-two live stream watch it here:

If you’ve enjoyed the blog this draft season and want to support the site via Patreon — (click here)

NFL Draft 2023 — Live Blog — Rounds 2-3

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

Don’t forget — I’ll be doing an instant reaction live stream immediately after day two concludes.

NO tipping picks in the comments section

#32 Pittsburgh — Joey Porter Jr (CB, Penn State)
This one always felt inevitable, whether it was the first or second round. Like father like son. It’s worth noting though that son is a far calmer person/player than dad. He’s talented but not the quickest.

#33 Tennessee (v/ARI) — Will Levis (QB, Kentucky)
The Titans have traded into the second pick of the day in a deal with the Cardinals. The trade sees the two teams swap third round picks with the Titans giving up a 2024 third rounder. It’s not a great deal for Arizona. Good for Will Levis. I’ve talked to him, spoken to people around him and interviewed one of his team mates. I think he has a chance to be a very good player and he’ll now have time to settle into the league. I’m relieved he didn’t go to the Rams.

#34 Detroit — Sam LaPorta (TE, Iowa)
LaPorta’s testing numbers were exceptional and when you watch the highlights instead of the tape, you see the flashes. Watching the tape was harder because they didn’t utilise him enough. It’s a rare situation where you look at a few clips and note the potential and upside as a better evaluation that watching him toil on a bad offense. I am very surprised Michael Mayer is still available.

#35 Las Vegas (v/IND) — Michael Mayer (TE, Notre Dame)
The Raiders have jumped above the Rams and Seahawks in a trade with the Colts, giving up a fifth round pick. I think this is a fantastic pick. Great fit for the offense and a need filled with an excellent player. He’s going to be Mr. Consistency and the Raiders get a steal by moving up. All of my ‘legit’ first rounders are off the board now.

#36 LA Rams — Steve Avila (G, TCU)
I think he’s a good, solid player. I enjoyed watching him in 2022 and I thought he was a big block of granite at the Senior Bowl. I didn’t think he was a great fit for Seattle but the Rams, who use the same blocking scheme, took him.

#37 Seattle — Derick Hall (EDGE, Auburn)
The Seahawks didn’t waste any time making their pick. They take Derick Hall, the top remaining edge rusher on my board. I had him with a high second round pick so this fits. He is an alpha dog and an absolute culture-setter. This fits perfectly what they have been saying, and I have been constantly repeating, that character is king. He also ran a 1.55 10-yard split and a 4.20 short shuttle. He has long arms. These are ‘Seahawk’ traits and a ‘Seahawk’ personality. Big fan of the pick. Seattle is finally loaded at the edge.

Here’s Bob McGinn’s scouting sources on Derick Hall:

“Love the kid,” said one scout. “High-effort, motor guy that isn’t athletically gifted enough to play outside linebacker. He’s got to be a 4-3 defensive end, an undersized 4-3 defensive end.”

“Makes out-of-position plays,” a second scout said. “Does all kinds of things to make plays. Has a hump move, the Reggie White move. That’s pretty good for a guy that’s 252. Very athletic with great acceleration. Is effective with his long arms. Can outrun the drop-back of the tackle and backdoor the quarterback.”

“He was the leader, the bright light in the dark room with (coach Bryan) Harsin and all that controversy,” said a third scout. “It’s a disaster of a year, and he held it together. He’s a hard-charging guy. He’s not going to be a premier 12 sacks-a-year guy, but he’s going to get six to eight. You’re going to know exactly what you’re getting. He’ll raise the level of the guys around him. Very, very hard worker. Vocal leader. One of the few legit leaders that you find. There just aren’t that many of them. Everybody’s on their phone or scared to speak up.”

“Try hard,” said a fourth scout. “Gets swallowed up at the point of attack. More of a straight-line, effort (rusher). Tweener.”

I don’t think he’s a tweener, for what it’s worth. I think he can be Carl Lawson.

#38 Atlanta (v/IND) — Matthew Bergeron (T, Syracuse)
The Falcons move up in a trade with the Cardinals. I liked Bergeron and think he can play left tackle well at the next level but be a top guard if they want to kick him inside. Good attitude, sparky and competitive.

#39 Carolina — Jonathan Mingo (WR, Ole Miss)
This is an outstanding pick for the Panthers. 10/10. I love Mingo and getting him here is a bargain. I had him in the top-40 since mid-college season and feel validated that he has now gone in this range.

#40 New Orleans — Isaiah Foskey (EDGE, Notre Dame)
I thought he had a poor Senior Bowl. I wanted to see more flash on tape. His testing isn’t as good as Daniel Jeremiah made out on the NFL Network. I much preferred Derick Hall. I had a fourth round grade on Foskey.

#41 Arizona — B.J. Ojulari (EDGE, LSU)
The rush on the last few good pass rushers is on. He’s a high character praying mantis. He can drop well in coverage and he can get after the quarterback. They needed someone to help rush and improve the culture and that’s what Ojulari can do.

#42 Green Bay — Luke Musgrave (TE, Oregon State)
I like this pick. A very good athlete who glides as a runner. He can be a complete tight end and he fills a big need for the Packers. Their offense should get an immediate boost.

#43 New York Jets — Joe Tippmann (C, Wisconsin)
The first center comes off the board. Tippmann is tall for a center but he’s a tremendous athlete. It’ll be interesting to see what the Seahawks do at center if they’re going to start coming off the board. I liked Tippmann a lot on tape review two weeks ago.

#44 Indianapolis — Julius Brents (CB, Kansas State)
I loved interviewing Brents and he’s a highly athletic, explosive cornerback with a perfect attitude and approach. He has a shot to be very good.

#45 Detroit (v/GB) — Brian Branch (S, Alabama)
The Lions move up three spots in a deal with the Packers, giving up a fifth rounder. He’s a good player with a great attitude but the testing at the combine was a hard sell. This is a rare value pick for the Lions in this draft.

#46 New England — Keion White (DE, Georgia Tech)
I thought he was like a bull in a china shop on tape and very disruptive. At the Senior Bowl though, I thought he looked like a man without a plan. He had no counter moves. He’s an older player so you need to work on his technique to max out the traits.

My dogs are not interested in the draft…

#47 Washington — Jartavius Martin (S, Illinois)
He’s a great athlete and I liked watching him on tape but this was a bit rich for me. I had him in round three. He can play safety or nickel cornerback. I liked how he worked at the combine.

#48 Tampa Bay (v/GB, DET) — Cody Mauch (G, North Dakota State)
The Buccs traded up to this pick in a deal with the Packers. Mauch played left tackle in college but he’s an inside guy with his length. I’d play him at center, I thought he looked best there at the Senior Bowl.

#49 Pittsburgh — Keeanu Benton (DT, Wisconsin)
I thought he would go in the top-45 so this is good value for the Steelers. He’s not going to wreck any games but he can be a very solid contributor inside. Long arms, decent shuttle, powerful. A good pick.

#50 Green Bay — Jayden Reed (WR, Michigan State)
The Packers moved down twice and eventually take Reed. His tape is good but I’m stunned that he’s gone off the board before Josh Downs.

#51 Miami — Cam Smith (CB, South Carolina)
There were a few character questions about Smith but his tape was active and good. I liked the way he played and there’s a bit of swagger there. They’re quite loaded at cornerback now.

#52 Seattle — Zach Charbonnet (RB, UCLA)
I’ve been a big fan of Charbonnet for a long time. He was the third running back on my board behind only the two guys taken in the top-12 yesterday. He’s so tough and physical and will run through contact. He’s explosive and has ideal size for the Seahawks. This is the range I thought he would go in and for a team determined to run the ball as a priority, this creates a thunderous, dynamic one-two punch.

Bob McGinn scouting sources on Zach Charbonnet:

“He’s so subtle and smooth and effective and athletic,” said one scout. “Just got great feet. Knows how to run the football. Smart. Catches the ball. He’s going to be undervalued. This guy’s way more athletic than AJ Dillon.”

“He’s been kind of the heartbeat of that team for the last two years,” said a second scout. “He had a really good game two years ago when they beat LSU (38-27). He’s done really, really well for himself. He fits any scheme. Not the fastest guy but a good, patient runner. He’s powerful. What will hurt him a little bit is he’s not a huge threat in the passing game, but I think he’s good enough. He probably gets drafted lower than he should. His production was obvious. He’s got a lot to offer.”

“Straight-line speed, vision, tough, gritty. Stiff in change of direction. Upright runner. Does run hard but with less power because he’s too stiff and upright. Non-elusive. He’s not as good as Hassan Haskins was in a similar kind of role. Haskins was a better athlete.”

#53 Chicago — Gervon Dexter (DT, Florida)
His play on tape was frustrating and inconsistent. However, during combine drills he flashed so much potential. If you can coach him up he could be very good. But how easy is that going to be? Is he committed to delivering on his talent?

#54 LA Chargers — Tuli Tuipulotu (DE, USC)
He’s a high-character, full-blooded rusher. He’ll be a great fit in the locker room. On tape he has great flashes but at his size what is he? He’s not a true edge, he’s not an outside linebacker, he’s not a three-technique. He’s good but he’s a tweener.

#55 Kansas City (v/DET) — Rashee Rice (WR, SMU)
The Chiefs traded up into this spot, giving the Lions a fourth and seventh rounder. I cannot believe Rice has gone before Josh Downs. He has speed and character concerns. A stunning pick. I gave him a day three grade.

#56 Chicago (v/JAX) — Tyrique Stevenson (CB, Miami)
The Bears traded up from #61 to get a cornerback who also has character concerns. I can’t believe he’s gone earlier than players like Kelee Ringo, D.J. Turner and Cory Trice. These last two picks have me absolutely stumped. I had him in round four.

#57 New York Giants — John Michael Schmitz (C, Minnesota)
The Seahawks passed on Joe Tippmann and John Michael Schmitz, so clearly weren’t that interested in either. It’ll be interesting to see if they target Luke Wypler or Juice Scruggs. I had the Giants taking JMS in round one.

#58 Dallas — Luke Schoonmaker (TE, Michigan)
The testing results were elite and he has a lot of potential. Very much a Dallas-style tight end. However, he has a significant history of injuries.

#59 Buffalo — O’Cyrus Torrence (G, Florida)
I thought he was overrated and can’t shake the memory of Ivan Pace Jr, who is 100lbs lighter than Torrence, dumping him on his arse during the Senior Bowl game. I settled on a round three grade for him and didn’t get the first round talk.

#60 Cincinnati — D.J. Turner (CB, Michigan)
I thought he would go earlier than this. He’s so quick and can cover very well. He did give up a few plays and he’s not big — but that’s the position. The Bengals love speed at corner and he ran a 4.26 so it’s not surprising they were interested in him.

#61 Jacksonville — Brenton Strange (TE, Penn State)
Another very traits-y tight end and a lot of people liked him. I prefer Tucker Kraft but this is more or less the range where he was expected to come off the board. Darnell Washington is still available and that’s indicative of some of the concerns we raised, despite his size.

#62 Houston — Juice Scruggs (C, Penn State)
I’m delighted for Juice Scruggs. He was the one player who caught my eye at the Shrine Bowl. He was easily the best player in 1v1’s. I arranged to interview him after watching the week of workouts and he was a pleasure to talk to. He had a great short shuttle at pro-day, no doubt cementing a big rise up boards.

#63 Denver — Marvin Mims (WR, Oklahoma)
I quite liked Mims on tape but I still can’t believe he’s off the board before Josh Downs. I just don’t get it. Is there an injury issue here? Mims is small but very quick.

With 39 picks in round three I’m not going to offer analysis on every selection but will provide extensive thoughts on Seattle’s pick at #83.

Don’t forget to check out my videos on the Hall and Charbonnet picks above.

#83 Seattle — TRADE
The Seahawks have traded down in a deal with the Broncos. They receive a fourth rounder (#108) and a third round pick next year. That’s a big return but the Seahawks are done for the day. They’ll pick four times in rounds 4-5.

We’ll start the live stream shortly.

Day one thoughts, day two primer

I like Seattle’s approach since the Wilson trade

I’ve always preferred a ‘BPA’ draft. I buy into the philosophy that free agency should be for addressing needs and the draft should be for acquiring the best talent.

In the last two drafts, the Seahawks have done exactly this. They’ve been more aggressive in free agency to add talent at key areas, then they’ve acquired building blocks for a new era.

They won’t admit it but this is a rebuild. And it’s only year two of the rebuild. They need to add talent in a variety of areas and pad out the roster. I’ve always thought, whatever they do in this draft, they’ll need another off-season.

I don’t think it matters whether we agree with the picks

I’m certainly not going to tell anyone want to think. Be positive or negative about the two first round selections. That’s your choice.

Personally I’m not going to quibble about the positions they took, even if I also sympathise with the view that for this team to truly become great they’ll need a long-term answer at quarterback and a blue-chip defensive lineman.

That’s the reason Houston was so aggressive in the top-three to get C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson.

The fact is three quarterbacks were off the board before #5 and if the Seahawks really wanted Will Levis, they would’ve taken him at #20. I like Levis a lot and think he can be an excellent pro. However, I’ve also said repeatedly this off-season that John Schneider deserves the benefit of the doubt on quarterbacks. If he took one at #5, he should be trusted. If he passed on certain quarterbacks, he should equally be trusted.

I never thought they would take Jalen Carter at #5 and I was lukewarm on Tyree Wilson’s tape (with the foot injury also quite scary). Thus, which defensive lineman were they supposed to take?

I only gave out nine legit first round grades on my horizontal board and Devon Witherspoon was one of the few elite players in the class. He is a tremendous talent and the Seahawks have given themselves an opportunity to add a big performer at a premium position.

I was sceptical of the fit with Jaxon Smith-Njigba because I think he probably would’ve run a 4.55 or 4.60 at the combine and that hasn’t typically been their type of receiver. However, a lot of people think he’s one of the best players in the draft. If he’s at the top of their board at #20 — I’m not going to have any issue at all with them investing in talent over reaching for a specific position.

I’m a big proponent of ‘you’re only as good as your third receiver’ in the modern NFL. You need weapons. I think it speaks to Seattle’s self-awareness that they acknowledge that too, rather than trying to force defensive line picks to bolster a certain philosophy or fix a problem.

And again at #20, the board worked against them for defenders. Will McDonald — I suspect a big target for them — was taken at #15 by the Jets. Lukas Van Ness is raw but had the profile and attitude they love. Players like Myles Murphy were so underwhelming on tape, I’m not surprised they didn’t dabble there.

The Seahawks are a better team for these two selections and really, that’s the modest expectation I set for any draft. Would I have loved to be able to dream about Anthony Richardson as a potential ‘next Josh Allen’? Sure. But he was off the board.

While ‘pay the iron price’ became a cool little slogan for us, was a deal even possible? Arizona would probably rather deal with an aggressive Houston team than a division rival. Indianapolis weren’t trading down. A trade up simply might not have been possible. It’s not really worth wringing your hands over.

Character is king

I’ve talked endlessly this off-season about the Seahawks making it clear they were more zoned in than ever on what they believe constitutes a ‘Seahawk’. It includes highly competitive, gritty, professional individuals of high character. That’s why I was so adamant they wouldn’t take Jalen Carter. They’ve pretty much spelled it out to everyone what they’re looking for and character is a big deal.

This is worth considering for day two. Who is a Seahawk?

There are plenty of high-character players remaining, with some real tough guys at safety later on in particular.

What scouts said about Seattle’s picks

These are quotes from Bob McGinn’s sources.

On Devon Witherspoon:

“I love the kid,” said one scout. “I love his interview. I love the way he plays. He’s got this presence to him. You know he’s locked in, he’s all about ball. He doesn’t care that he’s 185 pounds. He carries himself like he’s a bigger dude, almost like he’s invincible. If Witherspoon had Gonzalez’ size you’d have a top-10 corner.”

“Faster than everybody thinks,” said a second scout. “Wants to play the best man on the field. Got change of direction, acceleration, feel for the game. Very good tackler for the cornerback position. Top 15. He’s got everything you want.”

“I think he should (be drafted in the top 10),” another scout said. “He had a sensational senior season. He contested everything. He’s got a lot of fight. He’s on the borderline height-weight. His speed is good.”

“Hell of a football player,” a fourth scout said. “All he did was press. That’s all they did.”

There were no negative comments on Witherspoon.

On Jaxon Smith-Njigba:

“I thought he was Adam Thielen,” one scout said, referring to Smith-Njigba. “He can get deep because of his route-running ability, whether it’s a double move or a little shake. His 40 was fast enough for me. He may be the most consistent out of the bunch. He can do some outside stuff, but he’s mainly best in the slot.”

“I do like him,” said a second scout. “He can be a good pro. More in the vein of a big slot kind of guy. He catches the ball. He’s competitive. You just wonder if he has the top-end juice.”

“I’m really concerned about his speed,” said a third scout. “The (4.52) is not real good nowadays, and I don’t think he plays that fast. He plays like 4.6 to me. He’s a really good player. I just don’t see that explosiveness.”

“He’s one of the most overrated players in the draft,” said a fourth scout. “He’s got good hands, not great hands. He’s got good vision and run after but he doesn’t run away from anybody and he’s not particularly elusive. He can find holes in zones, and he’s tough. He’ll take a hit to make catch. I don’t see special traits. Has to be a slot. Not fast enough to play outside. I’d rather have (Zay) Flowers because he’s really fast and really good after the catch. Sounds like he might be a solid second-round pick, and I didn’t see that.”

What I’m hoping for on day two

More of the same. Best player available. If it’s a tight end at #37, so be it. I’m a big Michael Mayer fan. Take him. Or one of the other TE’s. I don’t care about the position. Just keep getting better. Be guided by the board.

If Will Levis or Hendon Hooker are at the top of your list, cool.

I’d be content with one of the top two centers — John Michael Schmitz or Joe Tippmann.

Adetomiwa Adebawore would be a fantastic addition here due to his upside and physical profile. Keion White, Keeanu Benton and Zacch Pickens are attractive options. I like Brian Branch. Derick Hall is the kind of ‘alpha’ character they are attracted to.

I don’t really rate O’Cyrus Torrence but if they take him, so be it. If they grade him higher than I do, I’m not fussed. I trust them to keep going BPA per their board to add talent. Personally I hope they consider Chandler Zavala or Matthew Bergeron for the same reasons.

I’m pretty relaxed about today and feel no desperation for any particular position. Yes, they need defensive linemen. They could take two today and everyone will feel better about it. They might add a quarterback too. I’m just going to enjoy finding out who they take and discussing the picks.

Will they move around?

John Schneider hinted at this and I think it could mean moving up or down.

They might want to jump the Cardinals for a center at the top of round two, for example. They might want to move up from #52. They have the stock to do it.

Favourite non-Seahawks moves so far

— The Texans being aggressive, absolutely love what they did

— The Jets taking Will McDonald at #15

— Tampa Bay rolling the dice on Calijah Kancey in the top-20

Moves I’m not a big fan of

— Philly’s draft where they took a player with enormous character flags and a tweener

— No idea what the Lions are doing

— I thought Felix Anudike-Uzomah was a reach at the end of round one

Updated horizontal board

I’ve removed the players taken in round one (click the image to enlarge):

I’ll be doing a live blog reacting to every pick again tonight — plus providing instant reaction videos on YouTube and another live stream with Robbie right after round three ends.

If you’ve enjoyed the blog this draft season and want to support the site via Patreon — (click here)

NFL Draft 2023 — 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 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 Carolina — Bryce Young (QB, Alabama)
Young is naturally talented with great accuracy, grit and poise. He can move around to be creative. In several games he put his team on his back and willed them to victory. The concern, as we all know, is the frame. He’s smaller and lighter than even Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray. It’ll be intriguing to see if that impacts him at the next level but the talent has never been in question.

#2 Houston — C.J. Stroud (QB, Ohio State)
What an absolutely ridiculous, stupid last few weeks. No wonder C.J. Stroud was in tears. He’s been thoroughly messed around with all this negative reporting on S2 tests and the media reporting Houston was going in a different direction. After all that, he goes second overall. He doesn’t get out of the top-two. Just as it should be. The right move.

#3 Houston (v/ARI) — Will Anderson (EDGE, Alabama)
What a move. Talk about paying the iron price. Houston is all-in on this draft class, taking their quarterback of the future at #3 then moving up from #12 to go and land the top defender on their board. Wow. This could be a franchise-defining move. Nick Caserio looks pumped. They’ve given up a first and a third rounder next year, plus their second rounder this year (#33). The Texans get a fourth rounder back from Arizona. I always thought Anderson would be the first defender taken. He’s an alpha, he will set the culture in Houston, he is perfect for them. What a move by the Texans. A+. There’s energy and hype to that franchise for the first time in a long time.

#4 Indianapolis — Anthony Richardson (QB, Florida)
Richardson comes off the board at #4 and all the late intel on a drop is proven to be nonsense. I was convinced they’d take Will Levis because he’d be ready to start quickly but the Colts clearly believe in Richardson’s incredible upside. His ceiling is unbelievable. They’ll need to be patient with him but Buffalo endured two rough years with Josh Allen and were better for it, clearly. That is what Richardson can become. Great pick.

#5 Seattle — Devon Witherspoon (CB, Illinois)
The most violent player in the draft. His tape is incredibly fun to watch. He levels people. He is a total throwback to the LOB days. He has shown so much grit in his career as a no-star recruit going to the JUCO’s, then Illinois and then progressing rapidly. He can be a tremendous NFL cornerback. I think this is a good addition and signifies two things. The Seahawks ARE focusing on BPA and they ARE focusing on character. Witherspoon was one of only nine legit first rounders on my horizontal board.

#6 Arizona (v/DET) — Paris Johnson Jr (T, Ohio State)
The Cardinals give up a second and fifth rounder this year, getting a third in return, to move up from #12 to get their left tackle. It’s a safe, solid, ‘get it on the fairway’ pick for a rookie GM.

#7 Las Vegas — Tyree Wilson (DE, Texas Tech)
Wilson, who is dressed like a BAMF by the way, was reportedly dropped by some teams due to medicals. I wondered if Seattle was one of those teams. He didn’t do anything before the draft, just like Darrell Taylor, and Taylor didn’t play a snap as a rookie. The Seahawks say they’re trying to learn lessons and passing on Wilson is probably part of that. Although I thinK Witherspoon is a better player.

#8 Atlanta — Bijan Robinson (RB, Texas)
This felt obvious throughout the process. Terry Fontenot is a ‘BPA’ decision maker and he was happy to take a tight end in the top-four two years ago. That’s an explosive offense in Atlanta. I love Bijan — he’s one of the top-three players in the draft easily. He’s a complete runner with plus patching skills. Your offense can go through him.

#9 Philadelphia (v/CHI) — Jalen Carter (DT, Georgia)
The Eagles have moved up one spot in a trade with the Bears to get Carter (pun intended). This is what I’ve been mocking. I’ve always thought it would require a very comfortable GM like Howie Roseman, with a Super Bowl roster already intact, to be willing to gamble on the clear character flaws. It was too risky for Houston, Arizona, Seattle, Detroit and Las Vegas. The Bears traded down instead of taking him. This is what I always expected — those teams wouldn’t take the risk and Philly would. He is immensely talented but the concerns cannot be ignored.

#10 Chicago (v/PHI) — Darnell Wright (T, Tennessee)
I had him as the best tackle in the draft. He’s the second taken but still goes in the top-10. This is a great pick for the Bears. He shut down Will Anderson but it wasn’t a one-off performance. Every Tennessee game I watched in 2022, he excelled. I just wonder where Will McDonald’s going to go. He did what Anderson couldn’t on tape and had the beating of Wright at the Senior Bowl. It’s one of the reasons why I think McDonald might be the best pass rusher in the draft.

#11 Tennessee — Peter Skoronski (G, Northwestern)
They have some real issues on the offensive line so a pick to address that isn’t a surprise. He’s incredibly explosive and people think he could be Zack Martin. He’ll need to kick inside but in an unpredictable draft, it’s not surprising that a few teams are going for solid, low-risk players.

#12 Detroit (v/ARI, HOU) — Jahmyr Gibbs (RB, Alabama)
The running back renaissance is on! He is a tremendous player and I had him going in round one but a top-12 pick is unexpected. He is so quick and dynamic, he can return kicks and he’s an excellent receiving threat. I would ring Detroit about D’Andre Swift and see if you can get a bargain in a trade (throwaway day three?).

#13 Green Bay — Lukas Van Ness (DE, Iowa)
Not many people saw this coming. It’s safe to say, given his testing, that they have a type. He has a similar athletic profile to Rashan Gary. They don’t go offense to help the new quarterback, they make a pick on defense.

#14 Pittsburgh (v/NE) — Broderick Jones (T, Georgia)
The Steelers moved up three spots, only giving up a fourth rounder. So it’s cheap to move up if you want to. That might limit Seattle’s value to move down from #20 but it might be inexpensive if they want to move up from #20. The Steelers moved above the Jets to take Jones. They need to protect their second-year quarterback. Jones has all the physical tools and size/length you want but his technique is poor. He dips his head too much when he engages. He needs work. But physically he has major potential.

#15 New York Jets — Will McDonald (EDGE, Iowa State)
Fantastic pick. As I mentioned five picks ago — he looked so good at the Senior Bowl against Darnell Wright. I’m disappointed because I was hoping the Seahawks could get him. He can come in right away and be a terror off the edge. I think he can be Brian Burns and he’s been taken in the same range.

#16 Washington — Emmanuel Forbes (CB, Mississippi State)
A lot of people thought cornerback here. I had them taking Deonte Banks. Forbes has great production and he’s a playmaker but he’s just so light. He looked like a rake in shorts at the combine. It’ll be interesting to see how he holds up because he won’t be playing generous college QB’s at the next level and he’ll need to tackle. The instincts are there though.

#17 New England — Christian Gonzalez (CB, Oregon)
He’s a great athlete but had middling production in college and there were some reports about teams thinking he’s a little timid on the field at times. Even so, he looked like a Patriot and I mocked him to the Pats recently.

#18 Detroit — Jack Campbell (LB, Iowa)
I think this is a massive reach. He’s stiff despite his testing (which was a surprise). I thought his tape was really unexciting and I had him in round three in my final horizontal board. He’s a Dan Campbell type but this is a very old school pick.

#19 Tampa Bay — Calijah Kancey (DT, Pittsburgh)
Fantastic pick. Despite the lack of length, I think Kancey is well worth a shot in this range. He’s so disruptive, so prolific as a pass rusher. It’s worth a shot at #19 to see if he can be 65% of Aaron Donald.

#20 Seattle — Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR, Ohio State)
I find this pick very interesting, intriguing and a bit surprising. I thought his lack of great speed would be an issue in Seattle. However, his agility testing is remarkable. Before his injury-hit season last year, he was very highly regarded. A lot of people had JSN as a top-15 pick so again, it’s another sign that the Seahawks are very much in BPA mode. They haven’t used either first round pick on the D-line. It’ll be exciting to watch JSN and see how he gets on. If he delivers, what an offense this could be.

#21 LA Chargers — Quentin Johnston (WR, TCU)
He’s leggy and tall. Johnston can be really dynamic. However, he was expected to be a great tester and we didn’t really see that. He had a few concentration drops. Yet the upside is certainly there.

#22 Baltimore — Zay Flowers (WR, Boston College)
A run on receivers has begun. Flowers’ change of direction is so dynamic and he can be a really dynamic player. You’ve got to be creative to get the ball in his hands but the way he cuts to avoid tackles is pretty remarkable.

#23 Minnesota — Jordan Addison (WR, USC)
The run on receivers is becoming a marathon. I though Addison looked average on tape and there was little to get excited about.

#24 New York Giants (v/JAX) — Deonte Banks (CB, Maryland)
The Giants moved up to this spot to take the highly athletic, sturdy cornerback. I like his physical nature but his ball-production was poor.

#25 Buffalo (v/JAX, NYG) — Dalton Kincaid (TE, Utah)
He’s a really mobile, prolific receiver. They add even more dynamism to their offense. He’s been injured and he didn’t test but the Bills clearly valued his agility to stretch the field at the tight end position.

#26 Dallas — Mazi Smith (DT, Michigan)
This has been an unpredictable first round for sure. I had Smith slated to go in this kind of range but didn’t expect Dallas to take him. Even so, he’s a big, physical, athletic nose tackle who can be a really consistent performer for the Cowboys — anchoring that defensive front.

#27 Jacksonville — Anton Harrison (T, Oklahoma)
I had him to Tampa Bay at #19 and Calijah Kancey to the Jaguars, which is amusing. I think he’s a very good run blocker and the more I watched the more I liked. He can be a very solid starting left tackle.

#28 Cincinnati — Myles Murphy (DE, Clemson)
His tape was rubbish. I watched every Clemson game in 2022 and he was one of the most frustrating players I saw. There’s no dog in him, there’s no counter. He’s just an athlete at the moment and a typical 5-star pampered Clemson D-liner. They’ll need to develop him.

#29 New Orleans — Bryan Bresee (DT, Clemson)
Bresee has a lot of athletic potential. He’s a tremendous upside player. However, his tape was so massively inconsistent and like Myles Murphy, frustrating. On top of that he’s had some injury/health issues and he lacks ideal length. He promised so much early in his Clemson career but he never really put it together.

#30 Philadelphia — Nolan Smith (LB, Georgia)
I mocked Smith to the Eagles right here in this spot. He was always a tweener and it’s difficult to work out what his position is at the next level. Great character, great physical profile. But is he an edge? Does he have to convert to linebacker? It’s hard to know and that’s why he lasted. I got both Eagles picks right, I should probably go and cover them.

#31 Kansas City — Felix Anudike-Uzomah (EDGE, Kansas State)
I thought he was a third round pick. They needed an edge rusher to replace Frank Clark but this feels a bit forced.

Here is my instant reaction thoughts to Seattle’s two first round picks:

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