I think the Seahawks have had a masterful free agency so far. They’ve done a good job addressing their key needs, setting up the draft so they can target talent rather than fill holes.
Hopefully they can now go bargain hunting and add even more to their defensive front. My preference would be to pull some levers to create cap space, then add some more beef to the D-line rotation. Unfortunately Greg Gaines has opted to reunite with Vita Vea in Tampa Bay and A’Shawn Robinson is visiting the Giants on Monday.
I’d still be very interested in Calais Campbell or bringing back Shelby Harris.
Generally though, things are set up nicely. So what does it mean for the draft?
What will they do with the #5 pick?
There are four good quarterbacks in this draft and a really good edge rusher in Will Anderson. One of this quintet is guaranteed to be available for the Seahawks. I think they will select whoever it is.
I do still think there’s a chance they draft Tyree Wilson depending on how he tests but it warrants repeating — at 6-5 and 271lbs he isn’t an obvious scheme fit. If he’s that much of an athlete, they might adjust their scheme to accommodate him. But he’s not a quick-twitch, dynamic edge rusher. He’s a powerful, long-limbed bulldozer. He isn’t 291lbs like DeForest Buckner or Arik Armstead. He’s a classic 4-3 defensive end who might be able to kick inside for obvious passing downs.
People are suggesting the Seahawks won’t draft a quarterback after signing Drew Lock but I’m not sure why. The whole point has been to set up a ‘redshirt’ year. That means sitting the quarterback, letting them learn and prepare to start in the future. If you make your redshirt quarterback the backup, what happens if Geno Smith gets hurt in week one? You’re suddenly ripping up the entire plan and starting the rookie.
That would be malpractice. You’re either redshirting or you’re not. If Anthony Richardson is the quarterback most likely to be their at #5 — and I believe he is — then you don’t want him anywhere near the field in 2023. That means you need a backup QB. The Seahawks signed a backup, Drew Lock, for one season. The only thing that would’ve changed the situation would’ve been a multi-year deal for Lock.
It’s also a hedge against the draft. If you don’t draft a QB, you’ll need a backup. The Lock signing was both important and necessary.
There remains a lot of hand-wringing about the QB’s, specifically with Richardson and Will Levis. I’ll keep saying it — if you had to make a ‘typical John Schneider quarterback class’ — it would look like this one. Big, strong, prototypical downfield throwers with extreme physical talent. High character. Athletic.
The one player who doesn’t fit that description is still incredibly creative, plays like a point guard, has a natural talent, has big hands for his size and had a decorated college career. Sounds familiar.
I think John Schneider will be completely sold on Stroud, Young and Levis. The only question mark will be Richardson — simply due to his inexperience. However, the physical talent more than makes up for that. Josh Allen had a stunning pro-day performance — the best I’ve ever watched. If Richardson can do something similar on March 30th, I suspect he will join the other three in the mind of Seattle’s GM.
In that scenario — the Seahawks can’t lose. If someone trades into the #3 spot and Will Anderson lasts to five, they’ll be very happy. If Arizona sticks at #3 and it means a quarterback lasts to five, I think the Seahawks will also be very happy.
If the Cardinals pull off a surprise and take Tyree Wilson at #3, I think the Seahawks would select Anderson over Richardson. He’s not a ‘special’ defender in the mould of a Bosa brother or Myles Garrett but his incredible character, production, talent and scheme fit will make for a worthy addition.
This is why you approach free agency the way they have — to cover all bases, all eventualities, to hedge against the board going against you in certain ways. It feels like the Seahawks have executed their plan perfectly so far.
A best guess at the top-15
#1 Carolina (v/CHI) — CJ Stroud (QB, Ohio State)
#2 Houston — Bryce Young (QB, Alabama)
#3 Arizona — Will Anderson (EDGE, Alabama)
#4 Indianapolis — Will Levis (QB, Kentucky)
#5 Seattle — Anthony Richardson (QB, Florida)
#6 Detroit (v/LA) — Tyree Wilson (DE, Texas Tech)
#7 Las Vegas — Peter Skoronski (G, Northwestern)
#8 Atlanta — Christian Gonzalez (CB, Oregon)
#9 Chicago (v/CAR) — Bijan Robinson (RB, Texas)
#10 Philadelphia (v/NO) — Will McDonald (EDGE, Iowa State)
#11 Tennessee — Michael Mayer (TE, Notre Dame)
#12 Houston (v/CLE) — Adetomiwa Adebawore (DE, Northwestern)
#13 NY Jets — Darnell Wright (T, Tennessee)
#14 New England — Zay Flowers (WR, Boston College)
#15 Green Bay — Luke Musgrave (TE, Oregon State)
— I don’t think the Cardinals will trade down. I think it’s a difficult deal to make. If they drop too far they’ll miss out on the better defenders they badly need. Plus, the teams who might trade up to #3 have leveraged themselves sufficiently that they won’t be inclined to give up a haul. There are teams in the teens (Washington, Tampa Bay) who might be inclined to move up but that would be incredibly expensive. I don’t think Arizona will get a good enough offer to drop down that far.
— With the Raiders signing Jimmy Garoppolo, they can let any situation come to them. That could mean moving up if the deal is right. It could mean drafting someone later on — or even kicking the can into 2024. That was a very deliberate, tactical signing. The Cardinals need a desperate team to get a great deal and I don’t see a desperate team in the top-10.
— I think if the Cardinals decide Tyree Wilson is a better scheme fit for them and take him at #3, the Seahawks would take Will Anderson instead of Anthony Richardson at #5. If Wilson tests very well, it’s not implausible. Philly’s edge rushers under Jonathan Gannon were not 253lbs like Anderson. They bulked up Josh Sweat to 265lbs. Brandon Graham is 265lbs. I don’t think Anderson can carry another 12lbs comfortably — he’s better suited in that 245-255lbs range. So the 271lbs Wilson to Arizona shouldn’t be totally ruled out, which would leave Anderson for Seattle.
— If it’s Anthony Richardson at five it’d be an ideal spot for him to spend a year learning and developing. It’d do him the power of good. Richardson is never going to be a Peyton Manning surgeon-style quarterback. Can he be a Josh Allen or Cam Newton? Yes, absolutely.
— I think Chris Ballard will be enamored with Will Levis, as Jason La Canfora reported recently. If anyone trades up to #3 it might be Ballard, to ensure he gets his guy. That way Arizona still gets the top defender on their board. Levis is best equipped to start quickly, which is important for Indy.
— There’s a lot for teams to consider with Jalen Carter. Let’s just say that. I don’t think there’s much chance of him being drafted in the first half of round one.
— Adetomiwa Adebawore at #12? Here are the facts. Nobody had a better Senior Bowl. He is +280lbs and running a 4.49. He ran a freakish 4.26 short shuttle. These aren’t good numbers. These are elite numbers. This is the testing profile of a once-every-decade athlete. Don’t be surprised if someone decides to take a chance on him with a very high pick, believing they can turn these special traits into a special player. He also has A+ character and some of his production issues can be blamed on Northwestern.
What does this mean at #20?
I think a lot of the mocks are inaccurate projecting the likes of Bijan Robinson and Michael Mayer to be available. They’re excellent players, among the best in the draft. If either lasts to #20, they have to be considered. I can’t see it.
In the second half of round one we’ll see a lot of cornerbacks come off the board, such as Joey Porter Jr, Deonte Banks, Devon Witherspoon and D.J. Turner. I wouldn’t expect Seattle to draft a corner early — that isn’t their thing.
This is also a likely range where a run on defensive linemen starts. Jalen Carter might be taken between #17-30 — although I know teams have a lot more to consider than is being reported. Calijah Kancey, Bryan Bresee, Myles Murphy, Lukas Van Ness and Keion White will also likely be taken in the second half of round one or early picks of round two.
It’s also a good range at receiver — Josh Downs, Jaxson Smith-Njigba, Quentin Johnston, Jordan Addison and Jalin Hyatt will likely be targeted by teams.
I think the Seahawks will be really attracted to Downs — a Tyler Lockett clone with exceptional high-pointing skills and character. Keion White has the body for the scheme and the athleticism. You could say he’s less likely to be selected due to the Dre’Mont Jones signing.
This is why Tony Pauline’s report on John Michael Schmitz possibly makes sense. If the Seahawks grade him as highly as Lance Zierlein does (Zierlein has him as the 23rd best player in the class) they can safely drop down to #25 with Jacksonville, guarantee their man ahead of the Giants and Bills (other suggested suitors) and tie-up the position for the future.
Personally I don’t think Schmitz is a first rounder — but the team might.
What about day two?
The Seahawks could still find defensive reinforcements quite easily. It’s a deep ‘edge’ class — so they should be able to find someone they like to add to their rotation if they don’t select Anderson or McDonald in round one.
I like Alabama’s Byron Young as an ideal fit for the defensive rotation up front. He’s adept at reading the offense to control gaps and he’d be an excellent fit in a two-gapping system. He’s also disruptive and powerful and he’s a legit alpha in the Alabama locker room. Mazi Smith is an athletic, powerful nose tackle who could be the heir-apparent to Al Woods.
Zacch Pickens is incredibly underrated. He was superb at the Senior Bowl, he has an outstanding, thick lower base that generates tremendous power but he has the quickness and athleticism to play off that, releasing and exploding into the backfield. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if, in three years time, we’re all wondering why he lasted as long as he did. Given the Seahawks still need more up front — I think he’d be a great option for them.
Keeanu Benton is another player who can play across the interior D-line. Moro Ojomo is flying under the radar but he’s an ideal 3-4 defensive end with tremendous agility. I’m also a big fan of Cameron Young — he could be a fantastic third or fourth round pick with tremendous upside potential.
There will be cornerbacks available right through to day three and the safety class has some interesting options if they want to plan ahead for the future. What range will JL Skinner be available following his pre-combine injury? How early will Sydney Brown go? Ji’Ayir Brown has outstanding character and production. Jammie Robinson is sparky and coming to Seattle for a top-30 visit. There are others to mention too. There are options at safety.
This is also the range where the linebackers might come into play. My sleeper option here is Tulane’s Dorian Williams — a player who plays with speed and violence. I think he’s better than some of the names being linked to Seattle and would provide better value. That said — I still wouldn’t rule out Drew Sanders being a top-40 option. I just wish we had some testing numbers for him.
It’s a thick, deep running back class so there’s no need to panic there. They can get someone and if it’s Bijan Robinson, Jahmyr Gibbs, Zach Charbonnet, Tyjae Spears or Israel Abanikanda with a high-ish pick — so be it. Spears is having an outstanding off-season and oozes talent, quickness and power. Gibbs is just an electric player who can do so much as a runner and receiver. Charbonnet and Abanikanda are also very talented and we all know about Robinson by now.
The receiver I’d put a ring around on day two is Jonathan Mingo — the wildly underrated wide-out from Ole Miss. He is an exceptional talent with soft hands, speed, size and an ability to act as an outside receiver or a big slot. He excelled at the Senior Bowl and just looks the part.
It’s well advertised that it’s a talented tight end class and the Seahawks might plan ahead with Noah Fant and Colby Parkinson both free agents next year. I think it’d have to be a top-talent to make that move early (eg Mayer) but we’ll see. I also think days 2/3 are chock full of interesting interior linemen. Emil Ekiyor Jr, Anthony Bradford, Nick Broeker, Jordan McFadden, Andrew Vorhees — plus even players like T.J. Bass and Tyler Steen — carry some intrigue.
If you missed my interview with Scot McCloughan, check it out here:
If you enjoy the blog and appreciate what we do — why not consider supporting the site via Patreon — (click here)