It’s still early and things can change but I think the #1 pick is going to come down to a battle between two teams.
Who will offer the best package to Chicago? Indianapolis or Carolina.
The Colts have gone through Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan, Nick Foles and others. They need to draft a young, talented quarterback and arguably can’t afford to just sit at #4 and hope for the best.
David Tepper, the Panthers’ owner, is not a shrinking violet. He’s been chasing a quarterback splash ever since he bought the club. He’s seen his team compete like crazy in the second half of the 2022 season and he’ll probably believe they’re ‘a quarterback away’.
Indianapolis has the advantage of being able to offer the Bears the #4 pick. The Panthers will probably be more aggressive in trade talks because they’d need to make a bigger move to go from #9 to #1.
There are other teams who could get into the mix — Las Vegas for example, as they prepare to move on from Derek Carr. I just feel like the Colts and Panthers are the two to monitor at this early stage.
Chicago will be rubbing their hands with glee. They control the draft by getting ahead of the Texans for the #1 pick and can guarantee the quarterback of preference to any potential suitor. Before Houston’s win against the Colts, they could only guarantee QB2.
Their priority will be to determine how far they’re prepared to trade down. If the Colts do make an offer but it isn’t as strong as Carolina’s, are they more inclined to take it knowing they’ll still be able to draft one of Will Anderson or Jalen Carter at #4? Or are they simply after the biggest offer, which may come from the Panthers or someone else later on?
I will likely do mock drafts in the coming weeks where I project Indianapolis and Carolina trading into #1.
What happens will have a big impact on the Seahawks. For example, if the Bears trade with the Colts, it’s likely Anderson and Carter will be off the board — possibly forcing Seattle to take the third quarterback at #5. Alternatively if the Bears drop to #9, that likely creates a situation where three quarterbacks go in the top-four, delivering the Seahawks one of Anderson or Carter.
Let’s look at the two scenarios. I’m going to project where I think certain players are likely to go and it what it would mean for Seattle.
The Colts trade up from #4
#1 Indianapolis (v/CHI) — C.J. Stroud (QB, Ohio State)
#2 Houston — Will Levis (QB, Kentucky)
#3 Arizona — Will Anderson (EDGE, Alabama)
#4 Chicago (v/IND) — Jalen Carter (DT, Georgia)
In this projection, the fact the Bears only trade down three spots takes the top two defenders off the board before the #5 pick. This would likely steer the Seahawks towards drafting a quarterback of the future.
Such a prospect is regularly rejected on Twitter by an army of Seahawks fans repelled by the idea of planning ahead at the position. As discussed already in detail, it’s something that should at least be considered.
It’s not disloyal or disrespectful of Geno Smith to note he turns 33 this year, is out of contract soon, isn’t guaranteed to provide years of quality play and simply might not be good enough to lead you to the promise land. It’s OK to acknowledge that might all be true while appreciating the unexpected highs he reached earlier in the season and hoping he can be retained on perhaps a two-year extension.
Smith’s also had some rough moments in recent weeks which have to at least make you pause on a massive, multi-year deal. He’s thrown 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions since Germany and had several other near-interceptions. It shouldn’t steer anyone to want rid of Smith but it should create a broader discussion about what the future looks like.
A best of both worlds situation would be to retain Smith as a bridge and then draft a longer-term alternative who won’t face the pressure to start immediately. Again, any talk of this is often derided as a ‘waste’ — but if Anderson or Carter are both off the board anyway, there’s little reason not to consider this.
Tyree Wilson and Myles Murphy are a hard sell at #5. Wilson has great size and length but his play is inconsistent and you worry about whether he’s twitchy enough to be a difference maker at the next level. Murphy will test well but looks like someone who’s been able to get by as a great athlete in college. He was spelled/benched at times for Clemson in 2022, his production is mediocre, his body lacks muscle definition and he was run all over by Notre Dame. He looks like a player who is going to require a rocket up the arse when he gets to the NFL.
In this first scenario my suggestion would be that the Seahawks strongly consider drafting Bryce Young or Anthony Richardson to sit behind Geno Smith with the intention of taking over in 2024 or 2025.
Young has a winners mentality, he’s naturally gifted and creative and he’s had an excellent college career. The problem, as everyone knows by now, is size. He’s said to be approximately 5-10/5-11 in height and around 185lbs. That is going to put a question mark in the mind of decision makers because nobody can project how that type of body will hold up in the NFL. There’s no precedent in the modern game.
Richardson meanwhile has superstar potential with a prototype frame, physical tools and the ability to make big plays with his legs or arm. He is far more developed than people give him credit for — he just needs time and experience. He shares a lot of similarities to Josh Allen in that regard but let’s also not forget that Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes also had plenty of doubters coming into the NFL.
It’s hard not to watch Richardson — or Will Levis — and not think ‘this is what John Schneider has typically sought at the position’. Stroud and Young are so talented, however, that they also surely carry appeal.
You don’t have to take my word on the order of the QB’s taken. If you want to mix things around that’s fine. Any of the top four would be a great pick — an investment for the future at the most important position. A chance to grab someone special at quarterback. This isn’t a luxury pick — you would still have another first rounder, two second rounders and a third rounder to address other needs.
The Panthers trade up from #4
#1 Carolina (v/CHI) — C.J. Stroud (QB, Ohio State)
#2 Houston — Will Levis (QB, Kentucky)
#3 Arizona — Will Anderson (EDGE, Alabama)
#4 Indianapolis — Bryce Young (QB, Alabama)
In this situation, the Bears move out of the top five and increase the chances of three quarterbacks leaving the board before Seattle’s pick. If the Colts are content taking the third or fourth quarterback this could happen. If they grade QB3 or QB4 in the same range as QB1, they are less likely to try and get up to #1.
The Panthers at #9 have little chance of getting at a quarterback. I’m not convinced Anthony Richardson will last that long, for example. They are likely to be aggressive to solve this long-standing need.
Jalen Carter remains on the board and would be a strong option for Seattle at #5, along with Richardson. I suspect Will Anderson will be taken before Carter, simply due to the vast difference in how they’re perceived. Anderson is an amped up live-wire who plays with great effort. There have been well-publicised reports of character concerns for Carter and we all saw how gassed he looked against LSU and Ohio State.
The Seahawks have shown little fear in rolling the dice in the past and might be willing to take a chance on Carter’s potential due to the huge boom-factor of him working out. He’ll certainly need to do some serious fitness work in the off-season and he’ll need to allay character worries during the draft process. Yet there’s no doubting he might be the most talented player in the draft and at the very least he’s in the top-three.
Character, attitude and effort matters. Taking a flashy defensive tackle at #5 won’t mean much if he can’t play more than 40% of the snaps or creates issues behind the scenes. The risk factor has to be considered here and likely will be considered by teams (eg Arizona) who are provided an opportunity to weigh up Anderson vs Carter.
This is why Todd McShay called Carter a ‘hot-button name’ when reporting on the concerns within the league. It’s going to be discussed a lot, analysed a lot. One of the main reasons will be the lack of concern regarding Anderson or the top quarterbacks who all have no such character complaints.
One of the benefits of picking at #5 is other teams get to make your decision a lot easier. At #3 it might be very difficult to pick between Anderson, Carter and the third quarterback. That’s a very challenging call with a chance to look foolish if you get it wrong. If the decision comes down to Carter and the fourth quarterback on the board, there’s probably going to be less blowback if the pick goes wrong. It’ll be seen as a ‘no brainer’ to take Carter and there might be a decent grading difference between the top three quarterbacks and Anthony Richardson — who has a lot less starting experience.
For Seahawks fans desperate for the team to draft a defensive lineman and are worried falling to #5 takes them out of range for Anderson or Carter — this is a realistic scenario that keeps one of them on the board.
Ultimately this is just a follow-up to what I wrote yesterday. Having #3 instead of #5 is obviously preferable. That’s stating the obvious. However — the Seahawks are guaranteed to be in position to draft one of:
That’s a really good group and any of the six are worth the pick.
This is a good thing for the Seahawks.
There are going to be other scenarios worth discussing as time goes on. I don’t think it’s out of the realms of possibility Houston takes a defender at #2, especially if they love Anderson or Carter. We’ve got plenty of time to break it all down.
I will again plead with fans to be open minded about the possibility of a quarterback or a defensive lineman at #5. Both options should and almost certainly will be considered.
I’d also ask for people to not believe everything you read about these players in the mainstream media. There are plenty of false narratives out there about this quarterback class — and about some of the defenders too.
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