Author: Rob Staton (Page 1 of 382)

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

Why I think the Seahawks will draft a quarterback next week

I think John Schneider is going to draft a quarterback next week.

I appreciate it’s not the boldest of bold takes. However, when the Seahawks traded for Sam Howell I certainly doubted it at the time. I’ve come around a bit since then. That move, with hindsight, was undoubtedly an attempt to hedge the draft and make sure you didn’t come out of this off-season with no young quarterback on the roster. The alternative was scrambling around in the expensive, underwhelming veteran backup market. Thus, Howell to Seattle.

In the last 24 hours there are a few tea leaves doing the rounds that suggest the Seahawks aren’t finished at the position.

Firstly, I was watching a three-round mock draft featuring former Vikings GM Rick Spielman (who most recently worked with the Commanders to sort through their front office build as an advisor). Spielman had Seattle’s pick at #81 and selected Michael Pratt the Tulane quarterback. He prefaced the pick by saying he was going to ‘throw a curveball’.

There was no deeper explanation for the pick but I found it interesting.

Then I saw this video featuring Peter Schrager:

If you can’t watch it, basically Schrager says he made a mistake not including Michael Penix Jr in his mock draft this week after being contacted by several league sources. If the Washington quarterback doesn’t go in the top-20, someone will make sure he doesn’t get out of round one. He says the two teams he’s hearing connected to Penix Jr are the Raiders and the Seahawks.

Here’s my takeaway from this. Whether it happens or not, it seems to me like there’s a feeling ‘in the league’ that the Seahawks will draft a quarterback. That’s being expressed in two ways here — the possibility of them drafting Penix Jr early, or taking someone like Michael Pratt in the middle rounds.

Why is that noteworthy? For so long now, you’ve barely heard anything of this nature. The Seahawks never come up as a likely QB destination when the main media types talk about the position. The thought is — they have Geno Smith and traded for Sam Howell. That’s enough.

When I see and hear stuff like this from Spielman and Schrager, it just makes me think there’s a jungle drum beating somewhere suggesting the Seahawks are interested in the position.

Let’s put it this way. The Seahawks have a Heisman runner-up on their doorstep, who just led his team to the National Championship game. They literally hired his college offensive coordinator to run the offense in Seattle. Yet the media has barely talked about Penix Jr to the Seahawks over the last month. It’s been an afterthought, amid all the talk of offensive and defensive linemen.

Apologies for repeating myself again — but is it any surprise that the man who was Director of Football Operations when the Green Bay Packers had a QB depth chart of Brett Favre, a first round pick (Aaron Rodgers) and a second round pick (Brian Brohm) might be set to add a quarterback — potentially in the first three rounds — to go with Smith and Howell?

Plus the Seahawks have pretty much addressed all of their needs pre-draft. You can’t address every need with a splash signing. They’ve set themselves up to not feel forced to do anything in any particular round. Essentially, if they wanted to draft a quarterback for development purposes or even to compete this year — it’d be no different than doing the same at linebacker, defensive tackle or safety.

When I do my next Seahawks seven round mock, there will be a quarterback included. I don’t think they’re going to reach. I think they’ll let the board come to them. Taking Penix Jr might require trading down first and him still being available. Pratt might be more of a focus at #102 than #81. Either way though, I think one of the top-seven QB’s in this class will end up in Seattle.

Once they’re gone, you’ve missed the boat. I don’t see any point in wasting a pick on Joe Milton unless it’s a throwaway seventh rounder. Jordan Travis lacks the physical tools to imagine he can start in the NFL — plus he’s coming off a horrendous injury. When Spencer Rattler and Pratt are gone, that’s more or less it.

I’ve said it since Pete Carroll departed — Schneider is itching to take a quarterback, or make a splash at the position. The non-committal comments about Geno Smith in the build up to the combine spelled out their aims. They want to find the future at QB. That will either come in the form of a big investment (eg, a first round pick on Penix Jr) or it’ll come in the form of taking a lot of different shots (using a mid-round pick on Michael Pratt).

I don’t think they’re going to be passive, though. I don’t think they’re going to keep kicking the can down the road. This is the third off-season since the Russell Wilson trade. I can’t imagine they’ll go another draft without selecting a quarterback. Not a throwaway pick either. Something more substantial.

Could it be Penix Jr? Yes. For all we know, Ryan Grubb is banging the table for him behind the scenes. For all we know, John Schneider thinks his golden arm is the key to contention in the future. We know he’s a scheme fit and we know Schneider thinks a lot of the Washington offense featuring Penix Jr, thus why Grubb is currently in Seattle and not Alabama.

While Penix Jr is far from a perfect prospect — his downfield throwing ability is an X-factor trait. He helped elevate the Huskies and showed against Texas what his upside potential is.

Would it be that shocking if the Seahawks found a way to jump the Raiders, if they like him so much? I’m sure the Broncos would enjoy screwing a division rival — especially if the player they’re eyeing would be available at #16 anyway. Or perhaps Penix Jr is destined to last into the later part of round one and the Seahawks intend to trade down, collect stock and then pull the trigger?

As for Pratt, I remember watching Oklahoma against Tulane in 2021. It was expected to be a one-sided game — and it was at half-time. Yet the Tulane quarterback just wouldn’t quit. He was getting absolutely hammered (literally) from start to finish. He had no help. Yet he dragged them back from a 20-24 point deficit in the second half to within a drive of winning the game. I immediately made a note of the QB’s name — Michael Pratt.

As I watched more, I got the sense that his upside wasn’t that high. His arm is good not great. There isn’t a real dynamic X-factor to his game. He’s really solid. His stat-line as a four year starter has been consistent throughout. He was a big part of the Tulane team that elevated to win the Cotton Bowl during the 2022 season. Tulane were 23-5 over the last two seasons after going 2-10 in 2021. It’s their best two-year period in over 90 years.

Athletically he’s better than expected. He ran a 4.23 short shuttle, jumped a 36 inch vertical and a 9-6 broad jump. He compares somewhat to Drew Lock — who ran a 4.12 shuttle and jumped a 31 inch vert and a 9-4 broad. Lock was 10lbs heavier but they have the same level of athleticism and hand size. We know Schneider liked Lock — so it’s plausible he’d take a shot on Pratt.

I want the Seahawks to build up the trenches as much as anyone — but I also think this team needs ‘the guy’ at quarterback, with all the benefits of having ‘the guy’ on a rookie contract, to become a serious contender again. Geno Smith is 34 this year. He’s been streaky in both of his two seasons as a starter in Seattle — with good and bad stretches (even Schneider spelled that out). He’s a very useful bridge. They can’t just keep muddling along though without investing in this position short of a pick-swap for Howell. You can’t force it but you can’t ignore it either.

We might finally be reaching a point where Schneider does what he says he set out to do all along — regularly draft quarterbacks. It might be one this year and next. Keep looking for the guy. Because once you find him, it’s amazing how a top-tier franchise quarterback can cover a lot of warts.

The Seahawks will draft a quarterback in the first four rounds next week. That’s my prediction.

Stay tuned this week — my weekly appearance on PuckSports will publish at 1pm PT on Thursday. I’m also interviewing Washington tight end Jack Westover later today, plus I’ll be interviewing my good friend Tony Pauline on Friday to discuss a number of a draft topics. Curtis Allen has an updated cap article coming this weekend and I’ll also have a new mock draft. Then, on Sunday, I’ll be part of the Hawkblogger draft roundtable at the earlier start time of 11am PT. It all builds up to extensive coverage of the Seahawks and the draft next week. So be sure to check out Seahawks Draft Blog and my YouTube channel — and if you want to support the blog via Patreon, click here.

My thoughts on Dane Brugler’s seven round mock draft

I haven’t commented on mock drafts this year, mainly because most of them have had the same player at #16. Dane Brugler’s latest in the Athletic follows suit. However, I think his seven round mock today is interesting and worth a post. He did about as good a job as can be expected in terms of projecting a realistic haul for the Seahawks.

There are still a couple of things I think are unlikely. He has the Seahawks using four consecutive picks on defensive players. I think there’s likely to be more of an offensive focus than this. There’s also, in my opinion, absolutely no way Ben Sinnott lasts to round four. Tight ends who carried their teams’ passing game, possess elite physical traits, have A+ character and can both block and make plays as a receiver, tend go in the top-60. They don’t last to round four.

Regardless, I wanted to break-down Brugler’s picks for Seattle:

#16 Troy Fautanu (T, Washington)
#81 Jonah Elliss (EDGE, Utah)
#102 Cedric Gray (LB, North Carolina)
#118 Dominique Hampton (S, Washington)
#179 Keith Randolph (DT, Illinois)
#192 Jordan Travis (QB, Florida State)
#235 AJ Barner (TE, Michigan)

#16 Troy Fautanu (T, Washington)
I don’t think he will last to #16. I think the media talked so much about his size during the season (and the expectation that he’d have to move to guard) that when it became clear he had tackle size and traits, opinions haven’t been adjusted. His tape, playing style, physical traits and character are top-10 pick worthy. If he lasts to #16, the Seahawks should run to the podium (and probably will). I think he’d end up playing right tackle rather than guard. This would be an A+ pick for Seattle, with Fautanu destined to become a top NFL lineman within two years. I think he’s a far better left tackle prospect than Charles Cross was.

#81 Jonah Elliss (EDGE, Utah)
I talked yesterday about a group of three edge rushers who will probably intrigue the Seahawks — Marshawn Kneeland, Bralen Trice and Jonah Elliss. They all ran short shuttles in the 4.17-4.19 range, which is often a strong indicator for edge rushing skills translating to the NFL. People might not think much of this pick but Elliss’ agility, explosive traits and quickness off the edge feel ideally suited to Mike Macdonald’s scheme. The only quibble I’d have is Brugler has Elliss going ahead of Trice, which I think is unlikely. I like the fit and the upside as a rotational EDGE — and this would allow the Seahawks to save a few million by cutting Darrell Taylor.

#102 Cedric Gray (LB, North Carolina)
The Seahawks are going to draft a linebacker at some point. I don’t think it’ll necessarily be a high pick — it’ll be someone who acts as depth in 2024 and they can assess whether they want them to start next year. Day three is the ideal range to bring someone in and the value matches up with Gray. He works well in coverage (this was particularly highlighted during the Senior Bowl game) and he has some decent physical traits (4.64 speed, 1.59 split, 35.5 inch vertical). However, he’s mostly a WILL linebacker. I do think Nathaniel Watson — who can play inside or outside backer in the 3-4 — is probably a more apt fit. Plus, he’s a terrific blitzer. Brugler has Watson lasting to round six.

#118 Dominique Hampton (S, Washington)
As a pretty much lone voice banging the drum for Hampton to Seattle, amid a sea of ‘Cooper DeJean’ chatter, I was delighted to see this pick in the mock. A quick reminder, the player many project to be a high pick at safety for Seattle, had 1183 snaps at corner for Iowa, 173 in the slot, 23 in the box and one solitary snap at deep safety. Hampton had 366 at deep safety, 296 in the box, 249 in the slot and 36 at corner in 2023. He had 503 snaps in the slot in 2022 alone. He is far more suited to the role people project for DeJean. Sources at UW say he’s a quiet killer, intelligent, disciplined, versatile and we saw at the combine he’s a great athlete. He’s an ideal pick for them. The only problem is, I doubt he lasts to #118.

#179 Keith Randolph (DT, Illinois)
As a late round flier at defensive tackle, Randolph makes sense. He had a good Senior Bowl and he was a captain at Illinois. I had him in round four, based on his time in Mobile and subsequent tape study. Yet he lacks great physical upside, meaning he could last into this range. The Seahawks have numbers at defensive tackle but adding someone to compete for a depth role makes sense.

#192 Jordan Travis (QB, Florida State)
I do wonder if the Seahawks will almost force themselves to draft a quarterback at some point, if only to avoid having to talk about another year passing where they avoided the position. I’m not sure Travis would be the man, though. He lacks the big physical tools John Schneider tends to value. He’s undersized and has looked tiny in his rehab videos. He’s also recovering from a serious injury which makes me think the chances are he’ll go undrafted. He played well at Florida State but he also nearly quit football not that long ago. It’s hard to imagine him starting in the NFL.

#235 AJ Barner (TE, Michigan)
A solid blocking tight end. The Seahawks need to add a TE in this draft because they only have two on the roster. Having already signed a blocking tight end, I think they’re more likely to draft a move-TE. But they will add at this position. Barner ran a 1.65 split and a 4.41 shuttle. I think there are higher upside-plays to be had on day three.

Things I would do differently

I think it’s quite possible, maybe even probable, that Seattle’s first two picks will be an O-liner and D-liner in either order. However, if they take Fautanu I do expect it’ll be with the intention of him starting at right tackle.

The situation with Abe Lucas’ knee is clearly serious. As I’ve kept mentioning, Scott Huff used converted tackles at left guard in each of the last two seasons. Both players were similarly sized to Lucas. They might switch him to guard when he’s ready to return.

There’s no guarantee there, though — that he returns and plays or that it’s a good fit. So I think it’s very likely one of Seattle’s other picks would be guard depth. Perhaps a Trevor Keegan or Kingsley Jackson.

I think they’ll draft a different type of tight end. Jack Westover (who I will be interviewing this week) would be a great shout. Jaheim Bell, Dallin Holker and Cade Stover would also make sense.

If Dominique Hampton lasts to round four, you probably don’t risk him lasting to #118. Take him at #102. If Nathaniel Watson is legitimately going to last to round six, take him in that range instead of going linebacker in round four.

Final thoughts

A seven-round projection like this is realistic for the Seahawks. I’ve done other mocks myself where people have said they’re realistic but unexciting. I’ve agreed with that assessment. Every time I see a mock like this, or put one together, it always feels a bit ho-hum.

Clearly Fautanu would be an outstanding addition. I also think the other players make sense, based on need and profile. Yet the Seahawks need a difference making draft, not one that just basically addresses a few areas sensibly and methodically.

I don’t have a great answer as to how the Seahawks achieve this, other than to pitch a couple of suggestions — one more realistic than the other.

Perhaps the Seahawks take Fautanu at #16 if he’s there, as we see in Brugler’s mock. Then they trade up from #81 to take Spencer Rattler (who was the 76th pick to Denver). It wouldn’t be an expensive move. If they did that, clearly the Seahawks would rate Rattler and that would be somewhat exciting. We could at least hope that he could be a long-term answer at QB, while also knowing you improved the O-line with Fautanu. There’d also be no pressure to start Rattler as a rookie. It’d be the Seahawks starting the process of trying to find someone who can be the future at the most important position in sport.

Some people won’t be excited by this because they don’t rate Rattler like I do. I think he outplayed Drake Maye when they faced off last season. I think he faced a lost-cause at South Carolina — with a shocking O-line, no weapons outside of Xavier Legette and a problematic defense. He made them more competitive than they had any right to be.

His lack of size bothers me but he does have natural talent as a passer. I don’t envisage the Seahawks doing moving up a few spots in round three to take him but I’d be happy if they did. If he ended up becoming a plus starter, along with Fautanu, that’d go a long way towards a transformational draft.

That’s the more realistic scenario. Now on to the one that’s a bit more far-fetched.

Let’s say the Commanders decide that their hole at left tackle is so big, it’s of greater value to them to own the #16 pick and take, say, Olu Fashanu, than it is to own #36 and #40 and be on the outside looking in for the better tackles. Let’s say they give you both picks.

From there, you trade up from #36 into the last few picks of round one to take Michael Penix Jr, who in this scenario didn’t go in the top-20. Regardless of what you personally think about Penix Jr, here we’re saying that Schneider’s a fan, Ryan Grubb’s an even bigger fan and they see him as the long term answer. Then, you use #40 to either trade down and pad out your draft board or you hit on an impact player. Perhaps someone like Braden Fiske, who has obscene athletic upside (even if his medical checks could impact his draft range). You then add a guard in the middle rounds who ends up being a plus starter.

If you could get a quarterback for the future, an impact defender and a solid starting guard — you might have the makings of a transformative draft.

However, this would also require the Commanders wanting to be this bold, Penix Jr falling, the Seahawks believing Penix Jr is special enough to invest in and they’d need to hit on other picks. There’s a lot going on there.

It’s a thought though, if nothing else.

If such a scenario was in some way possible, I don’t think Schneider would shirk it. As I noted yesterday, when he was Director of Football Operations in Green Bay, the Packers used a second round pick on Brian Brohm. That’s despite already having just used a first rounder on Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre was still playing. If Schneider was part of a front office that was prepared to have Favre, a first round pick and a second round pick as their QB depth chart — the idea of using a high pick on Penix Jr to go with Geno Smith (on a short-term deal) and Sam Howell (a cheap backup) is certainly not preposterous.

Everything I think about the Seahawks and the 2024 NFL Draft with nine days to go

Here’s everything I think about the Seahawks and the 2024 draft with just over a week to go…

— If Troy Fautanu or Taliese Fuaga are there at #16, the Seahawks should stick and pick. I also think this is what the Seahawks will do if they’re available. I’m still not confident they’ll make it to #16. There’s a lot of interest in Fautanu — the fourth most explosive lineman in the draft who also happens to be highly athletic, an A+ character person and he has valuable positional versatility. It’s concerning that so many mocks pair him with Seattle. I suspect teams will think if they want him, they have to jump the Seahawks. The Jets traded up from #23 to #14 to select Alijah Vera-Tucker in 2021 and I fear someone doing that this year, possibly Green Bay, Dallas or Cincinnati. For me, Fuatanu and Fuaga are destined to be top-tier NFL offensive linemen within two years.

— The best hope is that the Raiders take a quarterback at #13 and the Saints prefer someone like Olu Fashanu. Fashanu is a bit overrated. He has the physical tools but his technique is patchy and it’s incredible that he has tiny 8.5-inch hands (the same size as Kenny Pickett’s) despite being 6-6 and 312lbs. I think he’ll last into the late teens or early 20’s — but if someone takes him before #16 it’s party time. It increases the likelihood of Fautanu or Fuaga making it to Seattle.

— The Seahawks have been very deliberate this off-season. They’ve tried to fill as many holes as possible in free agency, to create a ‘best player available’ plan for the draft. This is how sensible teams operate. They won’t be forced to go O-line or trade down if Fautanu or Fuaga aren’t there (although players like Amarius Mims and Graham Barton could be in play). Byron Murphy, Jared Verse and Chop Robinson — all official visitors to Seattle — would be viable alternatives at #16. If they do go defensive tackle or edge rusher, they might cut or trade someone after the draft to save money. The candidates would be Darrell Taylor, Dre’Mont Jones and Jarran Reed. One way or another, after this draft, they are going to need to create cap space. They have no choice because they need money to sign the draft class and save for the practise squad and any other moves they want to make down the line.

— The wildcard pick at #16 is Michael Penix Jr. It’s still incredibly difficult to project where he’s going to go. Some think he’s destined for the top-13, others think he’ll last well into round two. You can make a compelling argument for both scenarios. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility he’s there at #16. So what then? Is it possible John Schneider likes him, Ryan Grubb is on board with a reunion and they just take him as the future? It feels like we’ve not discussed that possibility very much within the Seahawks sphere, despite the obvious connections between the staff/scheme and the player. I initially thought the Sam Howell trade was indicative of the team preparing not to draft a QB. Yet when you think about it, it’s no different than signing linebackers, safety’s or Laken Tomlinson. They’re all hedges or short-term fixes. Howell’s addition on a cheap two-year arrangement for a pick swap is no more likely to prevent the Seahawks drafting a potential long-term franchise quarterback as the signing of Tomlinson is to the Seahawks drafting a guard. If they really like Penix Jr and he’s available, why wouldn’t they take him?

— Remember, in 2008 the Packers (with John Schneider in the role of Director of football operations) had Brett Favre on the roster (with a Brett Favre salary) and recent first round pick Aaron Rodgers. In the draft that year, they still took Brian Brohm in the second round. Favre, a first rounder and a second rounder — that was Green Bay’s depth chart. So the idea of the Seahawks spending a high pick on someone like Michael Penix Jr, to go with Geno Smith (short-term deal) and Sam Howell (cheap backup) is hardly outrageous.

— Byron Murphy intrigues me for a number of reasons. He looks like a warrior on tape, capable of doing the ugly stuff very well. I don’t see a lot of easy wins as a pass-rusher though — he doesn’t have the burst and swim-move that enabled, for example, Calijah Kancey to wreak havoc in college. It makes me wonder if he’s likely to be more of an unsung hero as a pro rather than a game-wrecker. A rich-man’s Sheldon Rankins, perhaps. When I mentioned that on the HawkBlogger Mornings draft roundtable, a fair counter was put to me that he might be more like Grady Jarrett. Clearly, Jarrett is a superior player to Rankins. However, I looked at the stats. In nine NFL seasons, Jarrett has 34 career sacks. That’s the exact same number as Jarran Reed, who’s only played eight seasons. If you look at PFF grades, Jarrett had a slow-ish start for the first two years then averaged an 86.6 grade between 2017-2020. Then his grade dropped (he’s averaged 69.7 since). If Murphy is comparable to Jarrett (and Jim Nagy made the same comp when I interviewed him recently) — how would you feel about comparable sack numbers to Jarran Reed, plus a four-year career purple patch book-ended by more mundane grades? I like the idea of having Jarrett’s career and impact in Seattle but I’m not sure I want it at the expense of a great edge rusher, if that’s what Jared Verse and Chop Robinson could end up being. I also wouldn’t want it ahead of Fautanu or Fuaga, who I’m convinced are destined for greatness.

— Increasingly I’m finding it hard to work out who the Seahawks would take after trading down that would get me excited. The options at #16 seem far superior than, say, picking at #25. I think I’d only move down if I got a great offer. Certainly a repeat of the 2018 draft, where the Seahawks moved down nine spots (#18 to #27) and only gained a mid-third round pick, doesn’t seem appealing at all. I’d rather take a chance on Fautanu, Fuaga, Murphy, Verse, Robinson or Penix Jr than trade down, get a pick in the 70’s and then see what’s left in round one. Darius Robinson for me is the kind of player I’d happily take in the 20’s if you had two first round picks and he was your second choice. Or if you could get him in the early second round. I wouldn’t want to bank on him being your top pick in the class. I feel the same about other options, such as Cooper DeJean, Marshawn Kneeland, Jer’Zhan Newton, Edgerrin Cooper or Braden Fiske. Therefore, I’m increasingly inclined to want them to take the best player at #16. They traded for Leonard Williams. They knew what this draft class had to offer and did the deal anyway. The wait to pick #81 will be painful but it is what it is. If a player lasts into round three that you ‘have to have’ — you can always use one of your fourth round picks to trade up, just as you did in #2015 for Tyler Lockett. It is a little bit frustrating, though, that a year ago Schneider was talking about how critical it was for them to get more stock for a deeper 2024 draft — and with a week to go, they only have #16 and #81 in the first two days.

— Graham Barton would be an attractive trade down target for the Seahawks but with the Steelers at #20, Dolphins at #21 and Cowboys at #24 — how confident can you be that’ll be available for you?

— I don’t know what to make of Jer’Zhan Newton. On tape he’s the most disruptive defensive tackle in this draft. Yet he’s undersized and at his pro-day today, he didn’t do any testing. He didn’t previously test at the combine or the Illinois pro-day as he recovered from injury. When you have an undersized player, you want to know they have the physical tools to make up for it. Otherwise you’re drafting someone who could be overwhelmed at the next level. I’m not sure I could take him early — and as talented as he may be, I suspect several teams will feel that way too.

— The fact they’ve had official meetings with Malachi Corley, Spencer Rattler, Bo Nix, Cooper DeJean, Theo Johnson and T’Vondre Sweat makes me wonder if they might hope or intend to trade down multiple times and take a ‘quantity’ over ‘one quality player at #16’ approach. Provided you get enough picks, that’s fine. It’s a good enough draft to do this. My bigger issue with trading down is doing what they did in 2018 and moving down dramatically and only getting a measly third round pick in return. If there was a way to pick four or five times in day two instead of having just #16 and #81, that’s a palatable situation. But they’d need to hit on their picks — especially if players in the #16-20 range end up being blue chippers.

— How easy will it actually be to trade down? We keep talking about the quality available on day two. Other teams will see that too. Why would teams be rushing to part with picks in the top-64? They’d have to really want a particular player to do that. If you’re going to be aggressive, why are the Seahawks at #16 necessarily going to be the beneficiaries of a great trade offer? Wouldn’t you want to move up to #12 or #15? I think the Broncos and Colts will be very open to moving down.

— I’m not worried about the guard position personally. I think there’s a decent group of interior linemen set to go between #60-#85 including Cooper Beebe, Christian Haynes, Zak Zinter, Dominick Puni and Mason McCormick. I think Beaux Limmer, Matt Goncalves and Christian Mahogany will be available after that. Even going into day three — Trevor Keegan isn’t a million miles off his team-mate Zinter and USC’s Jarrett Kingston is one of the most explosive testers to enter the league in recent years. He has tackle and guard experience. I think the Seahawks are pretty relaxed about the situation because they believe in Anthony Bradford and Olu Oluwatimi and they were available in rounds four and five respectively. My guess is they believe they can find another player in the round 3-5 range who can join this pair as the likely future of Seattle’s interior O-line. Puni and McCormick tested brilliantly, as did Bradford a year ago. Meanwhile, Limmer is the most explosive offensive lineman to enter the league since we started measuring traits in 2016. These things do matter in terms of draft range.

— Jackson Powers-Johnson was a trendy choice among Seahawks fans not that long ago. However, as we pointed out, the Seahawks, Washington Huskies and Ravens have all utilised smaller, more agile centers in recent seasons. There’s no denying JPJ’s physical intensity and ability to progress to the second level — things that will appeal to Seattle’s new offensive staff. Are they prepared to draft a 330lbs center though? Would they take him to play guard? I think he’ll be a second rounder.

— Dallas Turner has a remarkable physical profile that hints at a top-end NFL pass rusher. Yet on tape, I just came away so underwhelmed. When I watched Jared Verse, I saw a speed-to-power dynamo. It’s very easy to imagine him quickly turning into one of the better edge rushers in the league. He’s no slouch either — he ran a 4.58 forty and a 1.60 10-yard split at 254lbs. A quick reminder that Von Miller ran a 4.53 at 246lbs and had a 1.62 10-yard split. The difference is agility — Miller ran a freakish 4.06 short shuttle (another reason why I focus on it so much for pass rushers) while Verse only ran a 4.44. It’s not the be-all and end-all though, because Micah Parsons ran a 4.40 shuttle. Chop Robinson meanwhile just has the kind of get-off and burst off the ball that the truly elite edge rushers possess. His ability to bend-and-straighten is rare. At the same weight as Verse, he ran a 4.48 and a 1.54 10-yard split, plus a 4.25 shuttle. Yes, his production wasn’t great at Penn State. They played Parsons as an orthodox linebacker though, so it doesn’t worry me. He has scary traits and potential screaming to be developed. Laiatu Latu on the other hand is a technician. He’s the man with a plan, working ways to cleverly avoid and disengage from blockers. I do wonder, though, how easy that will be at the next level against bigger and tougher linemen — and he didn’t fair too well against Taliese Fuaga when UCLA played Oregon State.

— There’s another trio of edge rushers I’m keeping an eye on. Marshawn Kneeland, Bralen Trice and Jonah Elliss all ran short shuttles in the 4.17-4.19 range. That’s outstanding agility and it has been indicative of success in the past (as detailed in this piece). Kneeland’s stock is building so much, part of me wonders if he could be a wildcard pick for the Seahawks in round one if they trade down. Trice could provide outstanding value as his stock seems to have been impacted, unfairly, by a bout of flu right before the combine that impacted his performance. Elliss needs to work in space but has explosive traits to go with his agility. There will be points in the draft where any of these three could be on Seattle’s radar. There will also be a time, presumably on day three, where the likes of Brennan Jackson, Austin Booker and UCLA’s Murphy brothers all become attractive options.

— At defensive tackle, there are players who mix intense effort with outstanding athleticism. Braden Fiske has a worrying injury history but had the best combine workout I’ve ever seen. His motor is also the best I’ve ever seen and his get-off is excellent. He had a terrific Senior Bowl. His tape, however, can be boom or bust. Ruke Orhorhoro is so close to Justin Madubuike physically they might as well be related. Michael Hall Jr and Mekhi Wingo have excellent testing profiles and upside. Dewayne Carter is being slept on a bit while Kris Jenkins has background with Mike Macdonald. There will come a point where you think about T’Vondre Sweat (although bringing him to your city after what he did the other day will be a moral battle for some GM’s). Then there are hard-nosed, grizzled, high-character warriors such as McKinley Jackson and Fabien Lovett Sr. who will be available at the start of day three. Basically, there are attractive options.

— Without a shadow of a doubt, this is the best draft class I’ve covered for high-motor, high-character players. I’ve been really impressed with the intensity in which a number of players play, with consistent effort and — in some cases — violence.

— I do think it’s worth taking a receiver at some point given the quality of the class and the name that really jumps out to me is Ryan Flournoy. He had an excellent Senior Bowl, he’s sudden and athletic, he has massive hands and he has A+ character. He ticks all the boxes and could be had on day three.

— I think Spencer Rattler will be a second round pick and for that reason, it’ll be difficult for him to land in Seattle. However, he’s QB4 for me, has more natural talent than most are willing to give him credit for, has shown some bollocks going to South Carolina and performing in a non-ideal situation in the toughest conference in football and he’s shown plenty of translatable moments while playing for a former NFL offensive coordinator. My biggest fear from this draft, short of the 49ers trading up for Troy Fautanu, is Sean McVay and the Rams drafting Rattler.

— I think the Seahawks absolutely did the right thing doing everything they can to meet with Rattler and Bo Nix. Schneider knows they need to start drafting quarterbacks. It doesn’t mean you reach but if either of these two fall into a range where the value makes sense, of course you consider drafting them. I don’t think either will land in Seattle — but the Seahawks are clearly very mindful of the need to find a long-term answer at quarterback. That should be reassuring to fans to an extent — but eventually they’re going to have to actually go and get someone. I think they will — but it might have to be next year.

— The Seahawks will need to draft a tight end at some point. I’ve been working under the assumption that a worst case scenario would be reuniting Ryan Grubb with Jack Westover on day three. There are some very intriguing options, though, for round four and beyond — including Tip Reiman, Erick All, Jaheim Bell, Dallin Holker, Jared Wiley and Tanner McLachlan. Of that group, I just have a feeling Holker is going to be the one who ends up being a very interesting pro. If the Seahawks do trade down and acquire multiple day-two picks it could bring Ben Sinnott into play — one of my favourite players in the draft. He has fantastic talent, physical upside and attitude. I think he’ll easily go in the top-50.

— Adam Schefter mentioned yesterday that Brock Browers will be drafted between #10-16 in the first round. This caught people’s attention, because the Seahawks were projected as his first round floor. I think that makes perfect sense. He is a fantastic player, who is 100% committed to football to the point he is one of the most unspectacular people to listen to. He gets up, works out, practises, goes home and goes to bed — and does it again the next day. On the field he’s an absolute dynamo with the potential to be a X-factor comparable to George Kittle. Why wouldn’t you want that? I see no chance of him lasting to #16 — the Jets, Broncos, Raiders, Saints and Colts won’t allow it — but if he somehow did, he absolutely would be best player available.

— I think adding another safety and another linebacker is a need but I don’t think they’ll feel obliged to attack these positions as early as some think. They’re far more likely to focus on the trenches with their top two picks. For example, why force a pick at safety in the first two rounds (presumably after trading down) when you can get Malik Mustapha early in round four? I’m a big fan of Dadrion Taylor-Demerson, Dominique Hampton and Kitan Oladapo — they could all be available in a value range. Kam Kinchens could sink into day three after a bad combine and an underwhelming end to last season. The Seahawks met with him recently for an official visit, so he could be an option later on. Even someone like the vastly experienced Andre Sam on day three wouldn’t be ridiculous. At linebacker, there just isn’t anyone I think they need to push the boat out for. Tyrel Dodson and Jerome Baker are your 2024 starters and really it’s just about adding some depth. I don’t think they need to spend a high pick to plan for 2025 because if Dodson and Baker excel, you’ll want to keep and start them anyway. They’re both at a good age. A final point — the NFL is full of safety’s and linebacker’s who weren’t high draft picks. In PFF’s top-15 at each position in 2023, there were seven third rounders, a fourth rounder, a fifth rounder, two sixth rounders and three undrafted free agents. That’s 14 out of 30 players. There were five first rounders — Roquan Smith, Kyle Hamilton, Jabrill Peppers, Darnell Savage and Malik Hooker. So these are two areas, a bit like at running back, where you can find contributors.

— I think as a fan base and media we’ve spent far too much time thinking about how the Seahawks will emulate the Ravens. I don’t think Mike Macdonald’s approach will be to try and copy Baltimore’s personnel. It’ll be to craft a bespoke system for the players he has in Seattle. I don’t think they’re looking for Kyle Hamilton. It’s simply that the Ravens had him, so they put him in the best position to succeed within their scheme. With the Seahawks, Macdonald will look at how best to use their existing personnel. If they draft a defender, it likely won’t be because they compare to Hamilton or Justin Madubuike or Roquan Smith or Patrick Queen. It’ll be because they graded that player highly and then it’ll be up to Macdonald to maximise the talent they acquired, in a scheme that fits the personnel. If they just wanted to copy the Ravens, they probably would’ve signed Queen, Geno Stone, Jadeveon Clowney or Kyle Van Noy.

— There isn’t a quarterback I’d draft once the top-seven are off the board. It’d be a waste of a pick. If you don’t take any of the top-seven, it’s onto next year for me. What I will say is — don’t listen to the people saying it’s an awful class of quarterbacks in 2025. Here’s a list of names who, to me, are very interesting. We all know Shedeur Sanders. Go and check out Max Brosmer who just transferred to Minnesota. He’s very intriguing. You’ve got Quinn Ewers at Texas, Carson Beck at Georgia and Brady Cook at Missouri. Tyler Van Dyke has finally escaped from Mario Cristobal and has transferred to Wisconsin to play for Luke Fickell. Will Howard has a great chance to succeed having transferred to Ohio State. Riley Leonard has gone to Notre Dame. This isn’t accounting for any players who emerge or develop over the next 12 months. For example, what does Jalen Milroe do playing for Kalen DeBoer? There are plenty of options here.

— Here is how I would rank the top-15 players in the draft in terms of talent:

1. Caleb Williams
2. Marvin Harrison
3. Rome Odunze
4. Malik Nabers
5. Brock Bowers
6. Troy Fautanu
7. Taliese Fuaga
8. Chop Robinson
9. Jared Verse
10. Jayden Daniels
11. Byron Murphy
12. Amarius Mims
13. Joe Alt
14. Quinyon Mitchell
15. JC Latham

The name I struggle with — and will continue to do so until we know what he is as a NFL passer — is Michael Penix Jr. His arm talent warrants being ranked on this list. He made throws at Washington you just don’t see quarterbacks make, aside from the current best of the best in the league. I don’t think he’s an elusive, improv quarterback and I worry about his ability to play the percentages and take what’s given. Can he be patient and methodical, or will he always be relying on the explosive plays? Will it matter if he delivers a higher percentage of explosive passes than any other QB in the league and can just be clutch when necessary? These are questions I’ve struggled with for months — and I suspect some teams are, too.

— I’ll publish another mock draft this week, ahead of my final projection next week. My best guess with nine days to go is Seattle’s top two picks will be an offensive and defensive lineman, in either order.

Next Monday I will publish my final horizontal board.

A quick reminder that I’ve done pre-draft interviews with Troy Fautanu, Jim Nagy, Brennan Jackson, Mekhi Wingo, Jaylen Harrell and Malik Mustapha. Please go and check them out — they’re all available via my YouTube channel (click here). Also, please subscribe to the channel, every little helps.

If you enjoy the blog and appreciate what we do — why not consider supporting the site via Patreon — (click here)

Saturday draft notes — Updated TEF scores, Darius Robinson, Vikings plans & a confirmed story from 2010

Updated TEF scores

Following all of the pro-days, data is now available for players who didn’t do all three tests (bench, vertical, broad) at the combine to produce a TEF score (measuring explosive traits). The formula was explained in our combine preview. Basically, a score over 3.00 determines an explosive testing result.

Here’s the updated list for the 2024 draft class:

Beaux Limmer — 3.68
Mason McCormick — 3.60
Jarrett Kingston — 3.44
Troy Fautanu — 3.27
C.J. Hanson — 3.21
Dylan McMahon — 3.20
Frank Crum — 3.19
Tanor Bortolini — 3.16
Brandon Coleman — 3.16
Josiah Ezirim — 3.13
Kingsley Suamataia — 3.11
Jacob Monk — 3.10
Jackson Powers-Johnson — 3.04
Joe Alt — 3.02
Kinglsey Eguakun — 3.02
Matt Lee — 3.01
Jordan Morgan — 2.96
Tanor Bortolini — 2.94
Dominick Puni — 2.90
Nick Gargiulo — 2.90
Blake Fisher — 2.89
Karsen Barnhart — 2.87
Jalen Sundell — 2.87
Roger Rosengarten — 2.85
Charles Turner — 2.84
Brady Latham — 2.84
Christian Haynes — 2.83
Zach Frazier — 2.82
KT Leveston — 2.81
Delmar Glaze — 2.79
Gottlieb Ayedze — 2.75
Amarius Mims — 2.72
Trente Jones — 2.71
Drake Nugent — 2.70
Sataoa Laumea — 2.69
Cooper Beebe — 2.66
Javon Foster — 2.66
Keaton Bills — 2.66
Matthew Jones — 2.62
Javion Cohen — 2.56
Isaiah Adams — 2.45
Nathan Thomas — 2.43
Travis Glover — 2.42
X’Zauvea Gadlin — 2.40
Andrew Coker — 2.37
Anim Dankwah — 2.32

With 16 confirmed ‘explosive’ testers (anything over 3.00 is ideally explosive) this is now easily the most explosive O-line class since we started testing in 2016. The highest number of confirmed explosive testers we had previously was eight in 2020.

Several other players, who are virtually guaranteed to be explosive testers, haven’t completed a full set of tests (basically, they didn’t do a bench press). Here are projected scores for players who didn’t do the bench — using the average number of reps for the class:

Tylan Grable — 3.41
Garret Greenfield — 3.35
Caedan Wallace — 3.20
Taliese Fuaga — 3.08
Tyler Guyton — 3.05
Christian Mahogany — 3.04
Olu Fashanu — 3.02
Trevor Keegan — 2.92
Jeremy Flax — 2.66
Layden Robinson — 2.90
Andrew Ray — 2.43

With the confirmed and projected TEF results for this year, there are 23 explosive offensive linemen in total with several on the borderline of reaching the 3.00 mark. I will stress that explosive testing isn’t a measure of success/failure. Teams do pay attention to it, though. Short shuttle times are also vital in some schemes. Dominick Puni scoring a 2.90 in TEF and registering a 4.40 short shuttle, for example, is very appealing.

The following players didn’t test to accumulate even a projected score:

Graham Barton
Zak Zinter
Nick Samac
Sedrick Van Pran
Kiran Amegadjie
Ethan Driskell
Matt Goncalves
JC Latham

You could argue there’s never been a better year to have an offensive line need.

Here’s a list of the top explosive testers since 2016, with the 2024 prospects in bold (projected scores are noted with a ‘p’):

Beaux Limmer — 3.68
Iosua Opeta — 3.62
Mason McCormick — 3.60
Jason Spriggs — 3.54
Braden Smith — 3.52
Tristan Wirfs — 3.47
Jarrett Kingston — 3.44
Cole Strange — 3.42
Tylan Grable — 3.41 (p)
Peter Skoronski — 3.37
Bernhard Raimann — 3.37
Garret Greenfield — 3.35 (p)
Zion Johnson — 3.33
Zach Tom — 3.33 (p)
Kolton Miller — 3.31
Connor McGovern: 3.29
Troy Fautanu — 3.27
Hakeem Adeniji — 3.27
Andrew Vorhees — 3.26
Cesar Ruiz — 3.25
Forrest Lamp — 3.23
Phil Haynes — 3.22
Wyatt Teller — 3.22
Scott Quessenberry — 3.22
Austin Jackson — 3.21
C.J. Hanson — 3.21
John Simpson — 3.20
Dylan McMahon — 3.20
Caedan Wallace — 3.20 (p)
Frank Crum — 3.19
Chris Lindstrom — 3.18
Connor Williams — 3.18
Anthony Bradford — 3.17
Jovaughan Gwyn — 3.17
Tanor Bortolini — 3.16
Brandon Coleman — 3.16
Ezra Cleveland — 3.16
Garrett Bradbury — 3.15

A quick final point — if you want to know why Troy Fautanu might go in the top-10 — being as explosive as he is to go with his A++ character, exceptional athleticism, a highly aggressive playing style, being willing to take coaching and positional flexibility is why. He’s a can’t-miss prospect.

Why Marshawn Kneeland and Jonah Elliss are generating buzz

Kneeland is being talked about as a potential late first rounder, while there’s chatter about Elliss in round two.

I think it’s physical potential combined with agility. Kneeland is 267lbs and ran a 4.18 short shuttle. That’s incredible agility for a man that size. He isn’t quick — running a 1.65 10-yard split and a 4.75 forty. Yet his agility testing is excellent.

Elliss ran a 4.17 short shuttle at 243lbs and jumped a 38 inch vertical plus a 10-0 broad jump. His three cone was a remarkable 6.69.

I’ll also throw a third name into the mix. Braylen Trice couldn’t perform as intended at the combine due to illness. He’d had the flu and dropped weight as a consequence. He was only 245lbs at the combine. By pro-day, he was back up to 259lbs. He ran a 4.19 short shuttle. Trice was one of the most disruptive, consistent players in college football last year. Don’t be surprised if he also goes higher than people originally thought.

The shuttle highlights body control when changing direction, agility and quickness. These are important traits for a pass rusher.

For example:

Maxx Crosby (255lbs) — 4.13
TJ Watt (252lbs) — 4.13
Nick Bosa (266lbs) — 4.14
Aidan Hutchinson (260lbs) — 4.15
Khalil Mack (251lbs) — 4.18
Trey Hendrickson (266lbs) — 4.20
Joey Bosa (269lbs) — 4.21
Josh Allen (262lbs) — 4.23

There’s a fairly consistent theme here among players with strong agility testing and how it translates to the next level. It’s not that way for everyone though — Micah Parsons ran a 4.40.

Here’s how the edge rushers in this class tested (note — some didn’t run a short shuttle):

Jonah Elliss — 4.17
Marshawn Kneeland — 4.18
Bralen Trice — 4.19
Chop Robinson — 4.25
Gabe Murphy — 4.31
Adisa Isaac — 4.33
Laiatu Latu — 4.34
Brennan Jackson — 4.34
Jalyx Hunt — 4.38
Jaylen Harrell — 4.39
Jared Verse — 4.44
Austin Booker — 4.47
Mo Kamara — 4.49
Grayson Murphy — 4.56

Darius Robinson to go earlier than expected?

Todd McShay tweeted on Friday that he considers Robinson a top-20 player since the Senior Bowl and that he’s a likely first round lock. I think there’s a reasonable chance his floor is the late first with Detroit (#29), Baltimore (#30) and San Francisco (#31) all viable landing spots.

I also continue to think he could be a target for the Seahawks. We know John Schneider has tremendous respect for the Senior Bowl. Only this week, he referenced Tyler Lockett’s great week in Mobile when discussing drafting him in 2015. Robinson was named the best practise player at the Senior Bowl this year after a dominating, outstanding week.

He’s versatile and capable of playing across the line. This is something Mike Macdonald will presumably be interested in, given he loves to deceive to create pressure. Robinson is a heart-and-soul type, who can help set the tone for the new era. There’s every chance he can emerge as the vocal leader of the defense within two years. He is the type of player you can imagine Pittsburgh or Baltimore drafting.

I also think Robinson’s a lot more disruptive than people realise. Granted, he lacks fantastic speed and agility. He did have a 35 inch vertical and a 9-3 broad jump at 285lbs though. His style of play is ungainly at times and occasionally out of control — but he reminded me of Jadeveon Clowney in that regard.

I’ll again reference what I was told by someone who used to work for Ron Wolf (Schneider’s mentor). Wolf’s approach was to focus on the trenches, not linger on combine testing and stick to the tape. I got a real sense that Wolf had a genuine preference for physical toughness up front and building through the lines. It doesn’t mean Schneider shares that approach. Robinson does fit the profile, though, of the kind of player I think Wolf would be interested in.

Let’s also remember — Devon Witherspoon didn’t do any testing a year ago and they took him with the fifth overall pick because they liked his playing style and attitude. Jaxon Smith-Njigba had great agility testing but his long-speed was enough of a question mark to keep him on the board until pick #20. He didn’t run a forty. In 2022, Charles Cross did not test very well at the combine.

On Witherspoon, how would people have reacted if he ran an OK forty a year ago at 181lbs? He’s an older player (turns 24 this year) and he lacks great size. Lance Zierlein, in his write-up of Witherspoon, said this:

“There are snaps where he gets behind and stays behind due to a lack of premium speed and closing burst.”

If he’d run, say, a 4.45 at 181lbs, would people have been saying he’s not athletic enough or special enough to take early? And a year on, wouldn’t that opinion have changed?

That’s why I think it’s important to stress that just because L.J. Collier wasn’t a great tester five years ago, it doesn’t mean every player you draft has to be a twitched-up workout warrior to succeed.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Seahawks traded down a bit and eventually took Robinson with their first pick. He’s far from the only option for them — but I suspect he might be under consideration.

I still think Minnesota might shock the NFL

When the Vikings acquired the #23 pick from Houston, at the time it felt like a move into the top four was imminent. Over the years we’ve seen several trades weeks before the draft. Yet even after the pro-day and private workouts, Minnesota remains in possession of #11 and #23.

I think there are two potential reasons why. One theory is they know they have an advantage over other teams because they can offer two first rounders this year. The Broncos, for example, can’t even offer a second rounder in this draft. It’s possible they’ve offered #11 and #23, plus some change, to teams like Arizona and New England and are waiting them out. If Minnesota knows their offer is the best, it could just be a waiting game. If the Cardinals end up taking #11 and #23 and Minnesota gets to keep its 2025 first rounder, that’ll be a masterclass in patience and leverage by the Vikings.

My other theory is they’ve been targeting Michael Penix Jr all along and want to add Byron Murphy in round one too. In this situation, they could take Murphy at #11 and then trade up above the Raiders at #12 to get Penix Jr. Alternatively, you take Penix Jr at #11 and then have the Broncos, Raiders, Saints and Colts to trade with — all of which I’d suggest are unlikely to draft Murphy. Going from #23 to #15 might not even cost you a 2025 first rounder.

If you’re going to spend #11, #23 and another high pick to move up for J.J. McCarthy, I think it’s a far better deal to use those picks to secure Murphy and Penix Jr instead.

The Vikings had Murphy in for a visit recently and he’s an ideal pick to complete their defense. Meanwhile, Penix Jr is ideally placed to start quickly. He’d play behind a decent line, throwing to Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson, playing in a dome for one of the best young offensive-minded coaches in the league.

This would give the Vikings a shot to be really good within the next two years.

Minnesota has a savvy front office. I think they’re being creative in a way I wish the Seahawks would be, while they’ve also done a very good job identifying great talent in value areas. Be ready for them pulling off the shock of round one by not moving up into the top four.

A confirmed story!

Finally, it’s taken 14 years but it was great to finally confirm, to some extent, something I wrote about during the 2010 draft. Regulars might recall that I had a connected source ‘back in the day’. That same source was the one who told me Marshawn Lynch was coming to Seattle via trade:

I saved that screenshot because it’s not every day you get to share credit with Jay Glazer. Anyway, per the source, in the 2010 draft, originally the Seahawks were thinking they might be able to draft Eric Berry at #6 and Trent Williams at #14. Williams was widely considered a mid/late first round pick until the combine, where his stock exploded. He ended up going fourth overall. Berry also went fifth overall. Thus, Seattle pivoted to Russell Okung and Earl Thomas.

John Schneider talked about the 2010 draft on his Seattle Sports show on Thursday and mentioned that it was ‘Russell Okung or Trent Williams and Eric Berry or Earl Thomas’. I’m going to take that as validation of what we originally said, back on the old ‘blogspot’ website.

It’s fun to think how different things would’ve been if the LOB featured Berry instead of Thomas and if it was Williams playing left tackle instead of Okung. Imagine going from Walter Jones and the career he had to Williams and the career he’s having.

If you missed it yesterday please check out my interview with Troy Fautanu. He’s such a good player to talk to, so help support content like this by checking out our conversation, liking the video and leaving a comment:

If you enjoy the blog and appreciate what we do — why not consider supporting the site via Patreon — (click here)

An interview with Washington offensive lineman Troy Fautanu

I had the privilege today to interview Troy Fautanu, the exceptional offensive tackle from Washington. We talked about a number of topics — including the influence of Scott Huff and Ryan Grubb on his career, his playing mentality, whether he’d be interested in playing for the Seahawks and more. Please do check this interview out and share it around in other places if you can. Let’s get a lot of eyes on this — because Troy was fantastic to speak to and you’ll definitely enjoy listening to him.

A four round mock draft and a Seahawks seven-rounder

I’ve never done a four-round mock before. This is what happens when you’re on a seven-hour flight and none of the films on the plane are any good. I also wanted to run through some scenarios today with two weeks to go until the draft, including:

— The likelihood of Troy Fautanu & Taliese Fuaga being off the board by #16 and how the Seahawks pivot after that

— What a realistic trade-down scenario looks like

— How the Seahawks gain a pick in the ideal range to select a starting guard for this year

— What I think a Ron Wolf-influenced John Schneider might do now he’s in charge

If you want to see the four-round mock draft as one big list without any comments, click here.

First round

#1 Chicago (v/CAR) — Caleb Williams (QB, USC)
Williams has been locked in as the #1 pick since the minute the 2022 college season ended.

#2 Washington — Jayden Daniels (QB, LSU)
Daniels will be the second quarterback off the board.

#3 New England — Drake Maye -(QB, North Carolina)
I still think it’s very plausible that Eliot Wolf will prefer to trade down, grab a haul of picks and draft an offensive lineman instead.

TRADE #4 Minnesota (v/ARI) — JJ McCarthy (QB, Michigan)
The Vikings might still spring a surprise and use their stock to secure Michael Penix Jr and Byron Murphy — but they’re very analytically focused and McCarthy has the best data. This move costs them #11, #23 and a first next year.

TRADE #5 NY Jets (v/LAC) — Marvin Harrison Jr (WR, Ohio State)
The Jets are in extreme win-now mode and aggressively trade up to get arguably the best player in the draft, giving up their 2025 first rounder.

#6 New York Giants — Rome Odunze (WR, Washington)
He’s as close to a sure-thing as you’ll find.

#7 Tennessee — Malik Nabers (WR, LSU)
Brian Callahan once said in an interview that the key to success in the modern NFL is your quarterback and receivers. The Bengals drafted Ja’Marr Chase ahead of Penei Sewell and the Titans could follow suit. Plus, Brian brought his dad in — the best O-line coach in the league — to sort out the protection for Will Levis.

#8 Atlanta — Dallas Turner (DE, Alabama)
I thought his tape was underwhelming but the physical upside is unquestionable.

#9 Chicago — Troy Fautanu (T, Washington)
The best left tackle in the draft.

#10 LA Chargers (v/NYJ) — Taliese Fuaga (T, Oregon State)
The Chargers trade down and secure a player who screams ‘Harbaugh’.

#11 Arizona (v/MIN) — Jared Verse (DE, Florida State)
The Cardinals move down seven places and take a much needed pass rusher.

#12 Denver — Brock Bowers (TE, Georgia)
The Broncos don’t force things at quarterback and take the best player available.

#13 Las Vegas — Michael Penix Jr (QB, Washington)
Al Davis would be proud to see his team select the QB with the best deep ball in the draft.

#14 New Orleans — Joe Alt (T, Notre Dame)
I think teams will rate Fautanu and Fuaga higher.

#15 Indianapolis — Quinyon Mitchell (CB, Toledo)
The Colts fill a big need with a player who has excelled in the pre-draft process.

TRADE #16 Arizona (v/SEA) — Brian Thomas Jr (WR, LSU)
The Cardinals weren’t afraid to talk trade with the Seahawks at #5 a year ago and they pick up the phone again here. They repeat the act of trading down, then back up to go and get their new WR1, jumping the Jaguars. They give the Seahawks pick #66 and Seattle sends #179 to Arizona.

#17 Jacksonville — Terrion Arnold (CB, Alabama)
With Thomas Jr off the board, they pivot to Arnold at cornerback.

#18 Cincinnati — JC Latham (T, Alabama)
The Bengals love size at offensive tackle and Latham can start at guard as a rookie.

#19 LA Rams — Byron Murphy (DT, Texas)
This feels pretty scary.

#20 Pittsburgh — Amarius Mims (T, Alabama)
His upside is through the roof and he’ll go in the top-20.

#21 Miami — Laiatu Latu (DE, UCLA)
With injuries galore at this position, the Dolphins tap into the value on offer with Latu still available.

#22 Philadelphia — Chop Robinson (DE, Penn State)
With the top two cornerbacks off the board, the Eagles turn their attentions to an EDGE with the ability to be Philly’s answer to Micah Parsons.

TRADE #23 Washington (v/SEA, ARI, MIN, HOU) — Olu Fashanu (T, Penn State)
The Seahawks trade down for a second time, with the Commanders jumping up to usurp Dallas and Green Bay for an offensive tackle. They give Seattle #78 and #222 and swap the #152 pick to the Seahawks for #192. Seattle turns #16 into #36, #66 and #78.

#24 Dallas — Graham Barton (T/G/C, Duke)
The Cowboys seem to always do a good job drafting early for their O-line.

#25 Green Bay — Tyler Guyton (T, Oklahoma)
He has the ability to play left or right tackle.

#26 Tampa Bay — Jackson Powers-Johnson (C, Oregon)
The Buccs have a hole at center and they’ve liked size at this position in the past.

#27 Arizona (v/HOU) — Cooper DeJean (CB, Iowa)
Many people think he fits the Eagles’ defense — which means he’s also a fit for Jonathan Gannon. The Cardinals add Verse, Thomas Jr and DeJean in round one and get Minnesota’s 2025 first rounder too.

#28 Buffalo — Adonai Mitchell (WR, Texas)
The Bills get their Stefon Diggs replacement.

#29 Detroit — Nate Wiggins (CB, Clemson)
The Lions have a big need at corner and while he’s not the ‘dog’ that Devon Witherspoon was, they have similar playing styles. The Lions supposedly liked Witherspoon a lot.

TRADE #30 Tennessee (v/BAL) — Jordan Morgan (T/G, Arizona)
The Titans jump back into the first round to secure a player some believe can stay at left tackle, despite his short arms.

#31 San Francisco — Jer’Zhan Newton (DT, Illinois)
The 49ers love to invest in their defensive line in round one.

#32 Kansas City — Ladd McKonkey (WR, Georgia)
He could go earlier than this — he’s a fantastic player.

Round Two

#33 Carolina — Xavier Worthy (WR, Texas)
The Panthers need to keep adding weapons for Bryce Young.

#34 New England — Ricky Pearsall (WR, Florida)
The Patriots have to give their new QB a fighting chance and that means drafting a player who will go earlier than people think.

#35 Arizona — Kool-aid McKinstry (CB, Alabama)
If they use Cooper DeJean as a versatile chess piece, they’ll still need another outside cornerback.

#36 Seattle (v/WAS) — Darius Robinson (DE, Missouri)
Ron Wolf’s mantra was about building the trenches, focus on the tape and don’t worry too much about testing. Robinson fits that perfectly. He’s the type of player the Ravens would draft and his versatility, strength and ability to develop into ‘the’ voice in the locker room could appeal to the Seahawks.

#37 LA Chargers — Braden Fiske (DT, Florida State)
Harbaugh gets a new Justin Smith for his defense. Smith and Fiske both have short arms but they have similar playing styles and they’re both athletes.

#38 Baltimore (v/TEN) — Edgerrin Cooper (LB, Texas A&M)
The Ravens trade down and address a key need. Cooper is a perfect fit to replace Patrick Queen.

#39 Carolina (v/NYG) — Kamari Lassiter (CB, Georgia)
He’s being underrated in the media.

#40 Washington (v/CHI) — Ben Sinnott (TE, Kansas State)
He could be this year’s Sam LaPorta.

#41 Green Bay (v/NYJ) — Junior Colson (LB, Michigan)
A solid player who’s good at everything but not great in any particular area.

#42 Houston (v/MIN) — Mike Sanristil (CB, Michigan)
He seems like a player DeMeco Ryans will really like.

#43 Atlanta — T.J. Tampa (CB, Iowa State)
I loved his tape and have been on the round two bandwagon for a long time.

#44 Las Vegas — Troy Franklin (WR, Oregon)
The Raiders get a Duck for their new Husky to throw to downfield.

#45 New Orleans (v/DEN) — Keon Coleman (WR, Florida State)
He has a chance to be really good, regardless of a substandard forty time.

#46 Indianapolis — Malachi Corley (WR, Western Kentucky)
The ‘YAC King’ would bring a new element to the Colts’ offense.

#47 NY Giants (v/SEA) — Max Melton (CB, Rutgers)
He’s one of the big risers as the draft nears.

#48 Jacksonville — Xavier Legette (WR, South Carolina)
He has good size and dynamic downfield ability.

#49 Cincinnati — Ruke Orhorhoro (DT, Clemson)
He has everything — length, toughness and athleticism.

#50 Philadelphia (v/NO) — Javon Bullard (S, Georgia)
He’s an Eagle.

#51 Pittsburgh — Zach Frazier (C, West Virginia)
A tough, brutal center who fits the Steelers perfectly.

#52 LA Rams — Spencer Rattler (QB, South Carolina)
This is also a scary thought.

#53 Philadelphia — J’Tavion Sanders (TE, Texas)
The Eagles like to invest in depth at this position.

#54 Cleveland — Jalen McMillan (WR, Washington)
Too many people are sleeping on McMillan.

#55 Miami — Roman Wilson (WR, Michigan)
Another speed merchant for Miami.

#56 Dallas — Michael Hall Jr (DT, Ohio State)
He’s inconsistent and there are some speculated character issues — but as a specialist interior rusher he can deliver dynamism.

#57 Tampa Bay — Payton Wilson (LB, NC State)
Another player who would go earlier but for the injuries.

#58 Green Bay — Cole Bishop (S, Utah)
There’s a real feeling he’ll land in the late second round

#59 Houston — Tyler Nubin (S, Minnesota)
The best overall safety in the draft.

#60 Buffalo — Dadrion Taylor-Demerson (S, Texas Tech)
He’s so smooth, fast and instinctive.

#61 Detroit — Ja’Lynn Polk (WR, Washington)
He’s known as a ‘dog’ who plays through pain — another knee-cap biter for Detroit.

#62 Baltimore — Roger Rosengarten (T, Washington)
Another player the Seahawks and Ravens will both probably be eyeing.

#63 San Francisco — Cooper Beebe (G, Kansas State)
The 49ers add an immediate starter to their O-line.

#64 Kansas City — Kingsley Suamataia (T, BYU)
I think he has feet like cement but plenty of others like him earlier than this.

Round three

#65 Carolina — Tykee Smith (S, Georgia)

#66 Seattle (v/ARI) — Christian Haynes (G, Connecticut)
He plays with an edge, he’s athletic, he has the length they like and he’s high character. The Seahawks will probably want to try and get a pick in this range to tap into the Beebe/Haynes/Puni trio.

#67 Washington — Marshawn Kneeland (DE, Western Kentucky)
#68 New England — Patrick Paul (T, Houston)
#69 LA Chargers — Blake Corum (RB, Michigan)
#70 NY Giants — Dominick Puni (G, Kansas)
#71 Arizona (v/TEN) — T’Vondre Sweat (DT, Texas)
#72 NY Jets — Jaden Hicks (S, Washington State)
#73 Detroit (v/MIN) — Zak Zinter (G, Michigan)
#74 Atlanta — Mekhi Wingo (DT, LSU)
#75 Chicago — Bralen Trice (DE, Washington)
#76 Denver — Bo Nix (QB, Oregon)
#77 Las Vegas — Trey Benson (RB, Florida State)

#78 Seattle (v/WAS, SEA) — Theo Johnson (TE, Penn State)
The Seahawks regain their native pick from Washington after trading down in round one and take a dynamic athlete at tight end.

#79 Atlanta (v/JAX) — Ennis Rakestraw Jr (CB, Missouri)
#80 Cincinnati — Chris Braswell (DE, Alabama)

#81 Seattle (v/NO) — Dominique Hampton (S, Washington)
I can’t think of a better fit for Mike Macdonald’s system. Hampton is a quiet killer who played everywhere for Washington. He’s a great athlete, he’s disciplined and does his job very well. He’s going to go earlier than people realise.

#82 Indianapolis — Dewayne Carter (DT, Duke)
#83 LA Rams — Adisa Isaac (DE, Penn State)
#84 Pittsburgh — Jamari Thrash (WR, Louisville)
#85 Cleveland — Jaylen Wright (RB, Tennessee)
#86 Houston (v/PHI) — Jonathon Brooks (RB, Texas)
#87 Dallas — Sedrick Van Pran (C, Georgia)
#88 Green Bay — Brandon Dorlus (DE, Oregon)
#89 Tampa Bay — Cam Hart (CB, Notre Dame)
#90 Arizona (v/HOU) — Beaux Limmer (G, Arkansas)
#91 Green Bay (v/BUF) — Andru Phillips (CB, Kentucky)
#92 Tampa Bay (v/DET) — Caedan Wallace (T, Penn State)
#93 Baltimore — Calen Bullock (S, USC)
#94 San Francisco — Isaac Guerendo (RB, Rutgers)
#95 Kansas City — Cedric Gray (LB, North Carolina)
#96 Jacksonville — Kris Jenkins (DT, Michigan)
#97 Cincinnati — Javon Foster (T, Missouri)
#98 Pittsburgh (v/PHI) — Renardo Green (CB, Florida State)
#99 LA Rams — Trevin Wallace (LB, Kentucky)
#100 Washington (v/SF) — Brandon Coleman (T/G, TCU)

Round four

#101 Carolina — Marshawn Lloyd (RB, USC)

#102 Seattle (v/WAS) — McKinley Jackson (DT, Texas A&M)
He has the same kind of attitude and personality as Jarran Reed, was the emotional leader of the Texas A&M defense and he’s a warrior you want in the key games.

#103 New England — Jacob Cowing (WR, Arizona)
#104 Arizona — Maason Smith (DT, LSU)
#105 LA Chargers — Tip Reiman (TE, Illinois)
#106 Tennessee — Mason McCormick (G, South Dakota State)
#107 NY Giants — Ray Davis (RB, Kentucky)
#108 Minnesota — Brenden Rice (WR, USC)
#109 Atlanta — Tez Walker (WR, North Carolina)
#110 LA Chargers (v/CHI) — Javon Baker (WR, UCF)
#111 NY Jets — Malik Mustapha (S, Wake Forest)
#112 Las Vegas — Jeremiah Trotter (LB, Clemson)
#113 Baltimore (v/DEN) — Malik Washington (WR, Virginia)
#114 Jacksonville — Cade Stover (TE, Ohio State)
#115 Cincinnati — Jared Wiley (TE, TCU)
#116 Jacksonville (v/NO) — Jarvis Brownlee Jr (CB, Louisville)
#117 Indianapolis — Tylan Grable (T, UCF)

#118 Seattle — Ryan Flournoy (WR, SE Missouri State)
The Seahawks have often taken receivers in round four with Schneider as GM and Flournoy is their type of guy. He’s a high-character, sudden receiver with enormous hands who excelled during Senior Bowl week.

#119 Pittsburgh — Christian Mahogany (G, Boston College)
#120 Philadelphia (v/LAR) — D.J. James (CB, Auburn)
#121 Denver (v/MIA) — Jaylen Harrell (DE, Michigan)
#122 Chicago (v/PHI) — Brennan Jackson (DE, Washington State)
#123 Houston — Luke McCaffrey (WR, Rice)
#124 San Francisco (v/DAL) — Kitan Oladapo (S, Oregon State)
#125 Tampa Bay — Justin Eboigbe (DE, Alabama)
#126 Green Bay — Josh Newton (CB, TCU)
#127 Houston — Fabien Lovett (DT, Florida State)
#128 Buffalo — Tyrice Knight (LB, UTEP)
#129 Minnesota (v/DET) — Beau Brade (S, Maryland)
#130 Baltimore — Jarrett Kingston (G, USC)
#131 Kansas City — Kris Abrams-Draine (CB, Missouri)
#132 San Francisco — Kiran Amegadjie (T, Yale)
#133 Buffalo — Will Shipley (RB, Clemson)
#134 NY Jets (v/BUF) — Blake Fisher (T, Notre Dame)
#135 San Francisco — Michael Pratt (QB, Tulane)

The trades explained

Minnesota trades #11, #23 and their 2025 first round pick to Arizona for #4
The Vikings clearly have a plan after acquiring the #23 pick from Houston. Trading into the top-five still seems most likely (in this instance to land J.J. McCarthy) although I do wonder if they’ll instead try to work out a way to turn their picks into Michael Penix Jr and Byron Murphy.

The New York Jets trade #10 and their 2025 first round pick to the LA Chargers for #5
The Jets owner, GM and Head Coach are all desperately needing this season to be a success. They’ve band-aided an O-line together, they’ll hope Aaron Rodgers can stay healthy and in this scenario, they trade up to #5 to land another big-name target in Marvin Harrison Jr.

Arizona trades #23 and #66 to Seattle for #16 and #179
Per the trade chart, the points difference between #16 and #23 is 240 points. The #66 pick is worth 260 points and #179 is worth 20 points. Perfect. The Cardinals traded down and then up a year ago and they repeat the act here to get ahead of Jacksonville for Brian Thomas Jr.

Washington trades #36, #78, #152 and #222 to Seattle for #23 and #192
There’s a 220 points difference between picks #23 and #36. #78, #152 and #222 add up to 233 points, while #192 is worth 15 points. In total, this is 218 points so it’s almost perfect. The Commanders have a ton of stock and badly need a left tackle to protect their new quarterback, so they trade up for the falling Olu Fashanu.

Tennessee trades #38 and a 2025 third rounder to Baltimore for #30
The Titans took Malik Nabers at #7 so they move back into the late first round to get a left tackle in Jordan Morgan.

Full Seahawks seven-round projection

#36 (v/WAS) — Darius Robinson (DE, Missouri)
#66 (v/ARI) — Christian Haynes (G, Connecticut)
#78 (v/WAS, SEA) — Theo Johnson (TE, Penn State)
#81 (v/NO) — Dominique Hampton (S, Washington)
#102 (v/WAS) — McKinley Jackson (DT, Texas A&M)
#118 — Ryan Flournoy (WR, SE Missouri State)
#152 — (v/WAS, SEA) Nathaniel Watson (LB, Mississippi State)
#222 (v/WAS) — Karsen Barnhart (G, Michigan)
#235 — Emani Bailey (RB, TCU)

The thought process with this mock

I do think there’s a strong chance the Seahawks will ‘stick and pick’ if Fautanu or Fuaga are available at #16. If not, I think that’s the trigger point to try and trade down to gain more stock. This isn’t a deep roster currently — and they need to add talent in various positions. They also need to develop foundations for the new Head Coach.

What does that mean? It means a very trench-heavy, identity-setting draft class. It means prioritising toughness, physical play up front, versatility and trying to increase the level of violence on both sides of the ball. The Seahawks became increasingly finesse in the late Carroll years. There’s nothing finesse about this group.

While Robinson lacks twitch and agility, he does carry a lot of qualities I think Schneider and Macdonald will admire. He can play across the line, he can occupy blocks to create opportunities for others, his run defense is very good and he can wreak havoc. Kirby Smart highlighted him by name before Missouri’s game against Georgia. There’s some Jadeveon Clowney to his game (albeit a less-athletic version) in that while he looks ungainly and out of control at times, he still F’s plays up. He was dominant at the Senior Bowl, winning practise player of the week.

I also think Robinson could develop quickly into the voice of the team. Former Missouri team mates rave about him. I’ve interviewed one of them. I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest within three years, this could be Robinson’s team.

The Seahawks have a huge need at guard but Schneider has made it clear he doesn’t intend to necessarily address that area in round one. Thus, the sweet-spot is going to be approximately pick #60-80 — where Cooper Beebe, Christian Haynes and Dominick Puni are set to go. Zak Zinter could also go in this range, medicals permitting.

By trading back they get the early third rounder they need to be in with a chance of getting one of these players. Haynes has everything they’re looking for — athleticism, intensity, an unmatched passion for the game, scheme-fit, aggression. He’d be a rookie starter filling a huge void in a value range.

Trading down a second time to gain another third round secures Theo Johnson — an extremely dynamic tight end whose best football will come at the next level. The Seahawks need to draft another tight end at some point and Ryan Grubb will have a lot of fun scheming opportunities for Johnson and Noah Fant.

Dominique Hampton is an ideal ‘Kyle Hamilton’ type defender who can play anywhere at safety and offer discipline, execution, violence and consistency. He tested brilliantly at the combine and will go earlier than many people think.

McKinley Jackson is toughness personified. When he speaks, teammates listen. He carries some of the leadership qualities you see from Jarran Reed and with Reed out of contract after this season, a pick like this would be ideal for planning ahead. He’s very capable of playing the one or three technique.

Ryan Flournoy is the kind of receiver the Seahawks take a chance on — extremely high character, great hands, enormous hands, sudden with excellent speed. He has a legit chance to shine in the NFL, despite not being one of the big names in this fantastic receiver class.

Nathaniel Watson called the plays on defense for Mississippi State and is a great blitzer (21 career sacks). These are things Macdonald has said are important for players in his scheme. Karsen Barnhart has positional versatility on the offensive line and Emani Bailey has the third-down ability to replace Deejay Dallas.

A lot of people will not be excited by a class like this. However, I do think it’s somewhat likely. The Seahawks know what type of team they want to be — they keep telling us what it is. With a new Head Coach fresh from the Harbaugh tree, it’s time to create an aggressive, tough, physical football team. This class would further enable you to achieve that goal. A lot of these players are also versatile and intelligent — which equally feels important for Macdonald.

Some thoughts on Seattle’s official-30 visits so far

The names are drip-feeding in as reporters share information on Twitter and players such as Matt Goncalves, Theo Johnson and Kam Kinchens share pictures on Instagram — but here are the confirmed names that have taken or are due to take official visits to Seattle so far:

Tyrice Knight (LB, UTEP)
Malachi Corley (WR, Western Kentucky)
John Rhys Plumlee (QB, UCF)
Grayson Murphy (EDGE, UCLA)
Nathaniel Watson (LB, Mississippi State)
Khristian Boyd (DT, Northern Iowa)
Theo Johnson (TE, Penn State)
Byron Murphy (DT, Texas)
Chop Robinson (EDGE, Penn State)
Travis Glover (T, Georgia State)
Bo Nix (QB, Oregon)
T’Vondre Sweat (DT, Texas)
Jared Verse (DE, Florida State)
Spencer Rattler (QB, South Carolina)
Matt Goncalves (T, Pittsburgh)
Kam Kinchens (S, Miami)
Qwan’Tez Stiggers (CB, Toronto)
Jowon Briggs (DT, Cincinnati)

I’m waiting on confirmation of a couple of players too, an offensive and defensive lineman, one of which visited Seattle last week and one who received an invitation just ahead of the weekend. (EDIT — one of them was Jowon Briggs, now confirmed).

If you look through Seattle’s draft history, they’ve taken players who visited. They’ve also been extremely careful to show minimal interest in other players they are targeting.

There were a couple of interesting anecdotes shared last week. ESPN’s Brady Henderson told Brian Nemhauser on HawkBlogger Mornings that a player really soured the Seahawks during one visit, as he complained about a busy pre-draft schedule and spent a ton of time on his phone. Albert Breer said the Patriots were put off A.J. Brown and Deebo Samuel because they shared the same agent, had done a series of visits together and had become quite chummy. Thus, when they visited New England, they seemed a little too ‘relaxed’ together. It put off Bill Belichick, who instead drafted N’Keal Harry, who Breer said was known for turning on the fake charm during meetings.

Clearly, these things can produce a mixed-bag of results.

Malik McDowell visited Seattle in 2017. He had serious character flags but clearly was able to convince the Seahawks to roll the dice on his remarkable talent (it’s a shame we never got to see what he could do). A year ago, Devon Witherspoon visited the Seahawks (as did Anthony Bradford and Jerick Reed).

Of the list of 16 names above, the visits will have different meanings.

For example, Matt Goncalves has had serious injury issues at Pittsburgh. It’s possible his visit is about medical checks and completing his profile in terms of health/longevity.

Grayson Murphy, Qwan’Tez Stiggers and Khristian Boyd were not invited to the combine. Inviting them could be about medical checks too, plus having meetings that were not possible in Indianapolis.

If you follow the tea-leaves, increasingly it looks like five quarterbacks will be off the board before Seattle’s pick at #16 — Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, J.J. McCarthy, Drake Maye and Michael Penix Jr.

As noted on the blog and on the HawkBlogger Draft roundtable on Sunday, Bo Nix’s stock is ice-cold. He’s doing the rounds in the media, which is never a good sign this close to the draft. Todd McShay this week suggested he hasn’t spoken to a single team that has a first round grade on Nix. After a seriously underwhelming Senior Bowl and combine, all of Nix’s limitations were exposed. In my latest mock draft, I had Nix dropping into round three.

Spencer Rattler, meanwhile, is going to be a second round pick.

The Seahawks meeting with the two quarterbacks who are realistically going to be available to them isn’t a surprise. They need to start drafting quarterbacks. If either is available to Seattle, in a range they are comfortable, they need to be ready and prepared.

It’s also possible they would’ve had Penix Jr in for a visit, if they hadn’t already hired his former offensive coordinator. They could also invite him to the local pro-day. But they likely have all the intel they need on a player who should still be considered an option if he lasts to #16 (that seems increasingly unlikely).

The meeting with T’Vondre Sweat was likely arranged before his recent arrest and DWI charge. It’ll be convenient timing for Seattle to be able to grill him on that incident. They’ll also likely want to see what shape he’s in. It’s OK being 366lbs at the combine but if you’re 380-400lbs now it’ll reaffirm concerns teams have about his commitment to staying in shape. Drinking beyond the legal limited weeks before the draft then getting in a vehicle doesn’t seem like a good sign in that regard.

Nathaniel Watson has had some character issues in the past, including an arrest for an alleged DUI. The Seahawks will likely want to get to know what he’s all about too.

Kam Kinchens did not have a good 2023 season, in my opinion. There are things to like about his game — particularly his turnover production. However, his ability in space is majorly suspect. This play below sums up the problem:

There’s a feeling, after a bad combine, that Kinchens could drop into the fourth or even the fifth round range. He’s been seriously overrated in the media, including several mocks putting him in the first round during the college season. If he tumbles down the board, provided you’re willing to play him in a role that limits his weakness in space, he can be a useful addition. Getting intel on him is a good idea. He’s a serious individual and a man of few words — but he’s been praised for his attitude and the way he leads by example. Importantly for the Seahawks and Mike Macdonald’s system, he’s played all over the field — he’s a very versatile safety.

Then there are the ‘big’ names that are being widely tipped to be taken in range of the #16 pick — Jared Verse, Chop Robinson and Byron Murphy.

I do think all three are very viable options for the Seahawks. My opinion for a long time now has been that Troy Fautanu and Taliese Fuaga will be 1a and 1b in terms of preference for Seattle — with both being sufficiently good enough to snub trading down.

If both are gone — and if no reasonable trade-down offer is received — the Seahawks will have to pick. Verse, Robinson and Murphy make a lot of sense in a ‘best player available’ sense.

Verse has the kind of speed-to-power intensity that succeeds in the NFL. He’s a violent pass rusher, who does a ton of work both versus the pass and run and he’s adept at creating opportunities for others. Florida State loved to stunt him inside and have Braden Fiske peel around the edge. Macdonald loves to stunt too.

Robinson’s get-off and burst is elite-level. It’s something the Seahawks simply don’t have among their current group of edge rushers. His upside potential is to be a Micah Parsons-type pass rusher.

There aren’t many human’s like Murphy. You don’t often see players with his thick lower body yet minimal body fat on the top-half. He’s factory-made to play defensive tackle. His lower half reminds me of Jarran Reed when he was at Alabama — and he can similarly anchor and hold position because he’s so sturdy and explosive in his arse and thighs. Texas actually played Murphy, not Sweat, at nose tackle for a number of snaps in 2023. Yet he has the kind of twitch and athleticism of a pure pass rushing three-technique. The only issue is whether he’s capable of turning a high percentage of pressures in college to more finishing production. Is he ‘just’ a major disruptor or can he wreck games?

Gathering info on this trio makes a lot of sense. It’s also perhaps interesting that they’ve brought them in but none of the other first round offensive tackles have visited. We’ll see if the likes of J.C. Latham, Amarius Mims and Tyler Guyton make a trip. You could look at the lack of names here in two ways. Either they’re trying to mask their intentions — or if they can’t get to Fautanu and Fuaga, perhaps they are prepared to pivot to a highly graded defender.

Personally, I think that would be a savvy move. There is some risk with the tackles. Latham is massive, talented and light on his feet — but we’ve seen several huge offensive tackles come into the NFL in recent years and struggle because they’re ‘too’ big. Mims has talent for days but he had eight college starts. Guyton is very quick and athletic — but it’s hard to forget watching Darius Robinson beat him off the edge at the Senior Bowl.

Verse, Robinson and Murphy just seem like surer things. You can well imagine all three becoming key starters in the league.

It’s just a shame the Seahawks have a huge black-hole between picks #16 and #81. Not feeling comfortable sticking and picking, to try and fill that void, is difficult to stomach. If they get a great trade offer, though, it’ll be extremely tempting to get more shots at this talented class.

I’d love to know how Schneider went from a year ago openly talking about how they wanted to get more picks for the 2024 draft (after acquiring an extra third rounder from Denver) because they thought it was a deeper class, to ending up in a situation where they have only picks #16 and #81 in the top-100.

If you missed it earlier, check out Curtis Allen’s awesome new article on Seattle’s quarterback situation in relation to the draft.

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