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.

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