Author: Rob Staton (Page 1 of 387)

Sports Broadcaster, Journalist and creator of Seahawks Draft Blog in 2008.

Early thoughts on the 2025 quarterback draft class

Seattle’s quarterback depth chart includes a player who turns 34 in October, starting on a year-by-year prove-it basis, and a younger backup who threw 21 interceptions last season. The veteran has a $38.5m cap hit in 2025, while his understudy has two years left on his rookie deal.

Currently, quarterback scouting is important when it comes to the Seahawks. Here’s the start of my 2025 draft work with an extensive study of the class. I’ve now watched complete games from 2023 for many of these players. In some cases, I’ve also watched 2022 tape.

Here are my thoughts as of today, with the caveat that things can (and will) change during the upcoming college season.

Is it a good class?

At the moment I would say it is deeper than recent years but extremely limited at the top end. It is deeper because players have exhausted covid rules to stay in school, or have opted to take NIL money rather than turn pro.

I don’t think there is a clear top-10 pick at the position. Many are projecting Georgia’s Carson Beck in that area, simply because he’s probably the most complete of the bunch. I don’t think he has exciting physical tools. Shedeur Sanders has the talent to go in that range but he is a huge mystery in terms of the baggage that will come with him at the next level. His father is already making it clear he will have a lot of influence on his son’s pro career. Then there’s Quinn Ewers, who has the natural talent to be a high draft pick but has to prove he can be consistent and stay healthy.

It’s plausible to imagine all three going in the first frame, although nothing is assured. None are in the range of a player who is locked-in to be a top-five pick and it wouldn’t be a surprise if any of the trio didn’t go in the first round.

As we saw with Jayden Daniels (and Joe Burrow previously) it’s very possible for players to elevate their stock in a big way. The physical tools of Riley Leonard could push him up boards but he is currently more athlete than polished passer. I’m intrigued to see what Max Brosmer can do in the BIG-10 after transferring to Minnesota. There are others I will discuss. However, this is a class with a lot of players who are more suited to mid or late round grades at the moment. There are no clear, exciting solutions for round one — and this likely played a part in why so many teams aggressively pursued the 2024 QB class.

Thoughts on the ‘top three’

Carson Beck is a very accomplished player who operates the Georgia offense at a high level. He is not a spectacular, dynamic downfield thrower. He can put too much air on throws and he needs to do a better job layering passes. There are underthrown passes on tape and some whiffs. That said, there are also plenty of examples where you see high quality touch passes. He was very good at throwing inside with timing and his short/intermediate accuracy is good. Beck is not a great athlete so will not be a big improviser or runner. There aren’t any glaring errors there’s just not a ‘wow’ factor. I suspect he’ll be a low upside player who will suit QB-friendly schemes in that he’ll likely be able to execute a system well, rather than be asked to attack every area of the field with his arm or improv to create and extend plays.

Shedeur Sanders has big-time creative talent. There’s one play against Nebraska that has to be seen to be believed. Although it didn’t count in the end, his ability to scramble and extend under pressure is a major asset. Despite playing behind a truly embarrassing offensive line last season, he was willing to take hits to make things happen. He’s shown a level of toughness. There’s evidence of touch throws downfield, his arm is good enough and when Colorado started well last season, he looked like a top-end NFL talent. Things spiralled and his play suffered — although you wonder how much of that was down to terrible pass-protection. You started to see poor decision making. Pat Shurmur is now his offensive coordinator, bringing NFL expertise and an opportunity to reset and start again — hopefully with a better O-line. A concern teams will have will be the influence of his high-profile father following a weird spring where Prime & son took to social media to get involved in back-and-forth tittle tattle with former Colorado players. It was embarrassing, frankly, including a weird Twitter Voices episode involving Sanders Jr. and friends. This doesn’t scream leadership, accountability and maturity and when he goes to the league, it’ll be a first-time experience where his dad isn’t the coach. Unless his play is so good to make it a moot point, this will be a talking point.

Quinn Ewers is the player who intrigues me the most. He has the most natural talent in the class, with an ability to whip the ball out like Aaron Rodgers. His downfield throwing can be inconsistent but there’s ample evidence of perfectly lofted accuracy and velocity. His performance against Alabama was a great example of what he’s capable of and his display against Washington in the playoffs was, in my opinion, underrated. He can make plays in to tight windows, he throws layered passes nicely and there’s a technical quality here that you don’t see with others. His athleticism is surprisingly good and he’ll make plays with his legs when needed. Ewers is clearly far from the finished article but he is someone with the upside to be quite a NFL pro. That said, there are legit concerns about his durability and consistency. He’s been banged up two seasons in a row. Can he get through a full year? Can he avoid slumping accuracy when he’s not in rhythm? This is a big year, especially with his top three targets from last season turning pro and with Arch Manning waiting in the wings. He is the one player I think could be special from this class — but he has a ton to prove. There’s a chance he has another injury-hit season and continues to flirt with a level of quality he’ll never quite deliver consistently. Hopefully he’ll take the next step instead.

These are the three players, currently, who I think have the best chance to go in round one before the college season begins. However, none are guaranteed to earn that grade by the end of the year. There is no Caleb Williams, C.J. Stroud or Bryce Young type where the expectation was a year in advance that they’d comfortably go in the top-five.

The players who could make a jump

Riley Leonard has, at times, done a good job of being a poor-man’s Josh Allen. He willed Duke to wins by running around and making plays, while having enough arm to be a difference maker. That said, he doesn’t have Allen’s upside or arm. As a passer you want more — he has quite a few frustrating misses on tape that undermine the bright moments. He’s a terrific athlete with good size but he’s not a natural passer. He’s not accurate enough, his decision making is off too often and he lacks poise in the pocket. I wanted him to go somewhere with a Head Coach with a proven quality of developing QB’s but he’s gone to Notre Dame. I’m sure he’ll do a good job but whether he makes the technical improvements required to go from an ‘athlete playing QB’ to an ‘athletic quarterback’ remains to be seen. At the moment he looks like a mid-rounder but the tools make you wonder — and Notre Dame will be competitive enough to give him a platform. One thing to note — he hurt his ankle last season (ironically playing against Notre Dame) and he was then allowed to return to play before the end of the season when he clearly wasn’t ready. He got hurt again and has been struggling with the ankle ever since. It’s something to monitor.

Max Brosmer came to my attention during the 2024 draft process while watching Dylan Laube. He’s transferred from New Hampshire to Minnesota and I’m probably looking forward to watching him more than any other player next season. His release is quick and compact and he has an easy flick of the wrist to generate velocity downfield. He’s very good at looking off defenders to throw into layered areas. His accuracy on medium-to-long range throws is good and he’s a decent athlete. Clearly we need to see him take on superior opponents in the BIG-10 but Brosmer is extremely interesting and someone who could generate a growing buzz.

Conner Weigman at Texas A&M is a player I’m intrigued to see more of. He played in four games last season before getting hurt. In these four games he showed a decent arm and the ability to throw into tight windows. He’s willing to take a hit and will stand tall in the pocket. His mechanics are not fun to watch though and he has an unappealing throwing motion. Even so, there were enough flashes to warrant closer inspection next season and with the Aggies now having a new coach, it’ll be interesting to see if Weigman excels.

Thoughts on the rest

After this, I have to say there’s not an awful lot to get excited about in terms of early round picks. There are players I certainly like — yet you wouldn’t necessarily call them likely NFL starters or players destined to go in the first two rounds.

Let’s start with Brady Cook at Missouri and Jacob Zeno at UAB. Cook flies under the radar but did as much as anyone last year to elevate Mizzou. He’s creative, can throw on the run and move around with his legs. He lacks outstanding physical tools but he was a lot more fun to watch — and effective — than a lot of the bigger name quarterbacks eligible for the draft in 2025. I was impressed watching Zeno, who snubbed attractive NIL offers to stick at UAB to his credit. I like his arm on tape, although it’s in the good-not-great range. He puts the ball into good areas. I’m intrigued to see more. Both players could be, for example, fourth round types that are worth adding.

The Ole Miss offense is shocking to watch for pro-projection and the scheme does a lot of the heavy lifting for Jaxson Dart. On the plus side, he has shown ideal loft on some throws and he throws very catchable passes. His accuracy is decent. Dart will give receivers a lot of catchable 50/50 opportunities. However, he lacks great arm velocity and the scheme attacks the sidelines more than over the middle, plus there’s a ton of high-percentage stuff. His accuracy is hit and miss. He can get flustered and fall apart a bit. He looks like a very reasonable mid-round type.

I’ve never watched Jalen Milroe and felt like I was watching a NFL starter. He has a decent arm but his accuracy can be an issue. His footwork and mechanics need major work. There’s no evidence of an ability to go through progressions and he looks like a good college athlete playing quarterback. Now — I do trust Kalen DeBoer to make significant technical improvements to Milroe and for that reason, he might be able to make a jump. Playing for Alabama doesn’t hurt. Plus after being benched last season, you have to credit the way he came back and performed. At the moment though, it’s hard to suggest anything more than the middle rounds at best.

Tyler Van Dyke is very much in the ‘what could’ve been’ category. He burst on to the scene at Miami and threw the ball all over the field. He went toe-to-toe against Kenny Pickett on the road. He turned a messy Miami team into a tough-out. Then the coaching switch to Mario Cristobal happened and unsurprisingly, everything fell apart. He regressed over two years, leading to his transfer to Wisconsin. Cristobal’s scheme did nothing to focus on TVD’s qualities as a downfield pocket passer and just made things limited, dull and as with Justin Herbert — we never saw the quarterback at his best. The weaknesses — heavy feet and poor decision making — shone brighter than any positives. He’ll need to rebuild his career in the BIG-10. He’ll need to win a starting job first and foremost which is no guarantee.

Cam Ward will replace Van Dyke in Miami but I think he’s more of a decent college player than a likely NFL starter. He has some skill as a creative quarterback but his decision making is questionable at times. He’s a good athlete with a reasonable arm but he’s not a ‘wow’ physical talent. He also gets the Cristobal offense. Right now, I think he’s more of a later round pick.

Drew Allar didn’t impress me at Penn State. His arm is decent and he’s a big guy but his accuracy is all over the place. His performance against Ohio State was a hot mess. He doesn’t look comfortable at all when pressured. Too many throws are way off. He can move well for his size but he just doesn’t look like a technically gifted passer. The Penn State offense, such as it is, won’t offer much of a development opportunity. He makes his receivers work for the ball too much, his anticipation is poor and his ball placement is bad (he throws low and behind). His processing and accuracy is poor. Frankly, I don’t think he’s draftable based on his 2023 tape.

Will Howard is a player I have a ton of respect for. At Kansas State he kept grinding. That wasn’t easy amid a high level of scrutiny and what felt like an unnecessary time-share at the position last season. He’s a better athlete than you’d expect, he could go toe-to-toe with good teams in big games. Howard has talent as a college passer. However, it’s not easy to imagine him as a NFL starter or a high draft pick currently. He’s transferred to Ohio State which is a big plus for his potential. They’ve brought back so much talent and deserve to be considered favourites for the National Championship. That could really elevate Howard’s stock if he can lead them to a title. At the moment though, he’s more of a fourth round type. His opportunity and supporting cast give him the best chance of any of the names in this group to elevate his stock, though.

Garrett Nussmeier has limited starting experience but we’ve seen players take a big jump at LSU over the years. In the limited tape available he appears to have a command of the offense and his accuracy and ball placement was interesting. Still, we’re going off one full Bowl Game against Wisconsin. He doesn’t look like a great athlete. It’s hard to project him currently but he’ll be worth a watch.

I don’t view Will Rogers, KJ Jefferson, Grayson McCall or DJ Uiagalelei as likely pro-prospects. Rogers has transferred to Washington, Jefferson to UCF, McCall to NC State and Uiagalelei to Florida State.

Other players could emerge during the season but these are the players I have studied so far.

Final thoughts

I’m convinced the Seahawks are looking for a Favre-esque player. A gunslinger who can make magic happen on the run, possessing a big arm and natural ability. He can be rough around the edges and take risks as long as they have the tools.

Everything points to this. Their interest in Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. John Schneider’s love for Drew Lock. The fact they traded for Charlie Whitehurst. Russell Wilson had these qualities. Sam Howell has this style of play too.

When I look at this class, I don’t really see that type of player. I am not optimistic that the Seahawks will find their answer from this group, even though I can imagine Schneider wanting to monitor some of the names.

I think this is another reason why they traded for Howell. I’m not sure they see an obvious solution here — and Howell gives them a younger player to work on in 2024 and 2025 with previous starting experience in the league. By January we could be viewing this class differently and depending on how the Seahawks perform, we could be viewing their need at the position very differently (in a positive or negative sense).

At this moment, though, I am not particularly optimistic about a long-term solution emerging from this group for the Seahawks. There are players I like but this is not a class, at least at the top-end, that gets you on the edge of your seat. The hope has to be that players will take a big jump — as Daniels did last year at LSU and Michael Penix Jr and Bo Nix did when they transferred to Washington and Oregon in 2022. In all three instances, a leap into the early first round was not expected. There are naturally gifted players here, like Ewers at Texas, so we’ll see if he can deliver. Anyone who does will likely fly up boards, given the lack of obvious high first-round options.

If you missed my latest weekly spot with PuckSports, be sure to check it out here:

Check out my latest Thursday show with PuckSports

Firstly, apologies for the lack of action recently. It was my 40th birthday last weekend and I travelled to Germany a week ago for the Euro’s. As we get to camp things will pick up — I’ve done a lot of QB scouting already and a big piece on the 2025 class will come soon.

In the meantime, check out my latest conversation with PuckSports:

An observation on Geno Smith and the offense

I think Geno Smith is a perfectly adequate bridge to the future. Getting an exceptional young quarterback is the hardest thing to do in the NFL. Pulling it off typically requires an element of fortune. It’s very easy to say ‘get a quarterback’ and very difficult to actually find ‘the guy‘.

The frustrating thing with the Seahawks in recent years has been their unwillingness to draft anyone at the position. This year they acquired Sam Howell and there’s plenty of talk about how much they liked him at North Carolina — but two years ago they weren’t even prepared to use one of two fourth round picks to draft Howell, weeks after trading Russell Wilson. If you liked him, why not draft him?

Yet unless you want to classify Brock Purdy as a miss (I don’t because Purdy unquestionably benefits from — and is ideal for — the Kyle Shanahan scheme), the Seahawks haven’t turned down the opportunity, so far at least, to draft someone since Wilson’s departure who’s gone on to be a fantastic quarterback.

For that reason, Smith as a placeholder makes sense. The Howell trade also provides a younger, cheaper alternative for 2025 if required. They aren’t completely kicking the can down the road, even if they’re long overdue taking someone in the draft.

There are, however, some people who believe Smith is ‘the guy‘. They believe he’s shown he can be the franchise quarterback and that a lot of the issues he has faced as the starter in Seattle are down to other aspects of the team (namely the offensive line).

I do think there’s some merit to this. The O-line continues to struggle, with the annual sweeping changes continuing for a unit that needs consistency. The play-calling did not help the quarterback at times under Shane Waldron. The Head Coach preached an identity focused around running the ball — yet year after year the running game struggled. None of this is conducive with an ideal environment for the quarterback.

However, I also think Smith is by nature a streaky player. He is someone who has shown in his career to have hot and cold runs. Given he has hot and cold streaks with the same O-line, targets and running game, I’m inclined to not just put the bad games down to the supporting cast.

I researched Smith’s three most compelling seasons in his career — the two years starting in Seattle and his final year in college at West Virginia.

In his first six games in that 2012 season for WVU, he threw 25 touchdowns and zero interceptions. His college passer rating averaged 183.4. His completion percentage was 76.5%. Smith was the talk of college football and was the expected #1 overall pick and the Heisman leader. WVU were 5-1, with a crazy back-and-forth 48-45 win in Texas seen as a crowning moment for Smith.

In the next seven games though, he threw 17 touchdowns and six interceptions. His college passer rating dropped to 155.7. His completion percentage dropped to 69%. WVU went 2-5 during this stretch and Smith’s stock collapsed. In a flash he went from being talked about as the #1 pick to potentially not going in round one, such was the dip in performance. Mel Kiper ended 2012 saying he was in a battle to be the second quarterback drafted. His NFL.com draft profile described a player who, “turned down a Senior Bowl invitation after regressing in the second half of the season following a strong start” and “seemingly regressed each week, especially when locking on to one side of the field.”

In 2022 when he won the starting job over Drew Lock, he started brilliantly. In the first eight games his PFF rating averaged 75.8. He averaged 2.2 ‘big time throws’ per game and 1.2 turnover worthy plays per game. His touchdown to interception ratio was 13/3 and the Seahawks earned a 5-3 record. Smith’s name was brought up as a candidate for NFL MVP.

In his final 10 games, his PFF rating dropped to 63.9. His big time throw average dropped to 1.8 per game. His turnover worthy play average increased dramatically to 2.1. He had 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The Seahawks finished 4-6.

The 2022 season in Seattle almost perfectly mirrors his final year at West Virginia. He had a hot start, then cooled considerably.

In 2023, the reverse happened. In his first eight games his PFF rating averaged 68.1. He averaged 1.5 big time throws a game and 1.6 turnover worthy plays per game. He threw a 9/7 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Despite this, the Seahawks started 5-3.

In the final seven games, his average PFF grade increased to 75.2. His big time throw average jumped to 2.8 per game and his turnover worthy plays dropped to 1.2 per game. He threw 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions. It speaks to how bad Seattle’s defense was that despite these dramatic improvements, Seattle’s record in the seven games was just 3-4.

I think this is who Geno Smith is. He’s physically gifted and has the kind of tools and ability to wow you over a stretch of games. He also has a propensity to go through an extended rough patch.

I have no doubt that if the Seahawks were able to deliver an excellent offensive line and if Ryan Grubb is a Shanahan/McVay level play-caller, that it’s extremely possible to extend the hot streak and limit the cold streak. I’m just not sure how realistic that is. Without this kind of environment I think Smith will continue to be a hot and cold player — thus showing the difference compared to the top-tier of quarterbacks.

Let’s use Josh Allen as an example. He went into last season with an O-line ranked 22nd in the league per PFF. He didn’t have the weapons Seattle has and the one top receiver he had, Stefon Diggs, was embroiled in a ‘does he want to be there’ summer of headlines.

Allen ranked #1 per PFF at quarterback with a 92.5 grade yet was far from flawless. He had a poor game in week one against the Jets (49.6), struggled in a loss to Denver (58.4) and had a mediocre game against the Patriots in week 17 (61.7). However, he never had an extended run of poor performances. He had isolated ‘off-days’ — which every QB will experience (even Patrick Mahomes). Overall, he elevated the Bills without an amazing supporting cast, offensive line or offensive whiz-kid calling plays (his OC lost his job during the season).

The Bills can rely on Allen to compensate for a non-ideal environment. If the O-line concedes pressure, he has the physical ability to scramble, extend plays or make magic happen. His arm talent is so rare that he elevates the performance of his receivers.

Smith is not that kind of player, which is hardly a criticism by the way. He is someone with good physical tools but requires a degree of competency around him. He’s definitely an athlete but he’s not a great scrambler or extender of plays. If Seattle’s offensive line struggles, I wouldn’t expect him to shine.

This is ultimately why I think they have to be on the look out for someone who can do what Allen can do — because it’s very difficult in the NFL to deliver quality players broadly across your roster. It’s especially hard to build a great offensive line — one of the reasons why elusiveness and improv has become so valued among quarterbacks.

I also think this is why Smith is good enough for the here and now but needs to be seen as a better-than-the-typical bridge rather than anything more than that. He is very much an Alex Smith type for Seattle. I do think, with help, he can lead this team to 10 or 11 wins. Smith had four seasons with the Chiefs where they won 10-12 games. At the same time, Kansas City were clearly very actively looking for better. When they identified Mahomes as their man, they aggressively pursued him. They traded Smith even after a good season.

I believe the Seahawks have the same mentality and are simply yet to find the guy they like to make a move (either with their native pick or by moving up).

I hope I’m wrong and the people who believe Smith is a franchise quarterback are right. That would be great for the Seahawks. I just don’t think it’s likely though, based on the things I’ve written about here and also the apparent league-view of Smith. After all, he tested free agency in 2023 and could only come away with a team-friendly, incentive-laden, minimal commitment contract with the Seahawks. It felt very much like Seattle was dangling him as a trade-chip pre-combine this year, with quid-pro-quo Adam Schefter talking up his trade value in relation to his contract. Nobody bit — meaning John Schneider and Mike Macdonald had to adjust from being noticeably non-committal to Smith during press conferences to suddenly talking him up all the time.

I get the sense Schneider isn’t totally convinced by Smith. I’ve no doubt he’s willing to adjust any opinion he might have based on his performance this year but his review of the quarterback (‘some good, some bad’) when asked after Carroll was fired kind of said it all.

My prediction for 2024 is this. I think Seattle’s offensive line is enough of a question mark that it will prevent Smith from avoiding the hot-and-cold runs highlighted earlier. I think he will have a stretch of play this year where he looks extremely competent and he produces. I also think he will probably have a stretch where he struggles somewhat.

As noted, the way to mitigate this likely would’ve been a major investment in the O-line which simply didn’t happen this off-season. There will definitely be new starters at both guard spots and center — with question marks at every position. There might be a new starter at right tackle too — or Abe Lucas will return with questions about his ability to perform at a good level so soon after recovering from surgery.

If the line struggles it’ll impact the quarterback and the running game. I don’t have much faith in a Laken Tomlinson career revival. Olu Oluwatimi is an unknown at the NFL level and has the limited physical upside you’d expect from a former fifth round pick. I really like Christian Haynes but he’s a rookie. I remain underwhelmed by Charles Cross and want to see more from him in year three. I think they did a good job signing George Fant to cover if needed at right tackle.

I think Smith’s 2024 will be similar to his 2012, 2022 and 2023. Once again, ‘some good, some bad’. That would create quite the discussion point for the next off-season, given Smith’s $38.5m cap hit for 2025. They’d likely have to make a call on a release or an extension. I bet they’ll be keeping a close eye on college quarterbacks in the meantime, looking for the player who can possibly elevate this team for the long-term. Even then, ideally the bridge is positioned for a transition rather than a clean break. It’ll be interesting to see if that’s possible from next year — unless Sam Howell can prove to be the heir apparent over the next 12 months.

If you missed yesterday’s Seahawks roundtable/crossover be sure to check it out:

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