My first horizontal board for the 2023 draft

Here it is then — my first horizontal board for the 2023 draft.

I haven’t done one of these in November before. Typically I wait until after the combine. Testing and how players perform at the Senior Bowl will dramatically impact grades. There are plenty of players to be discovered at those two events — and there players I simply haven’t had a chance to watch yet. Remember, I do this as a hobby in my spare time. The amount of work that has gone into this initial board is frightening. I will get to other players in time — so keep that in mind.

I’m considering hosting a live stream Q&A discussing the board if there’s enough interest from the community. Let me know in the comments section if it’s something people would be interested in this week. It’ll only work if there are plenty of questions coming in through the live chat.

I’ve also posted a huge pile of notes below the board so check them out. Be warned, it’s 7000 words long…

Click the image to enlarge the horizontal board:

What is this draft class actually like?

It’s thin for round one. I have 10 players with ‘legit’ first round grades, including four quarterbacks. It’s light on what you might call obvious blue-chippers who would go in the top-10 any given year. You can make an argument that Jalen Carter, Will Anderson and Bijan Robinson fall into that category. As such, the top-10 might not provide great value (which is a similar situation to what we experienced in the 2022 draft — although there are early round quarterbacks in this class).

What I would say, though, is there are some appealing options on day two and an opportunity to improve your overall talent and depth. What the Seahawks do in the first round though, with two picks, will be a big debate for the next few months. I don’t think there’s an obvious clear plan of action.

At the moment they have the #7 pick and the #22 pick. It’s possible a good defensive player is available at #7. It’s also very possible that Carter and Anderson are both gone and the top player available in that area is a quarterback or the running back Robinson. You can make an argument for trading up and down but I also think this team would really benefit from another draft like their 2022 class where they stayed put and just added talent with sensible picks. The Seahawks need to get better in key positions but they also need to add quality and depth across the board.

Defensive players I really like

There are some appealing options and I wanted to get into that first, with a lot of fans hoping this will be a defensive-centric class.

There’s a bit of everything here. Elite athletes with untapped potential. Unorthodox body types with sensational production and/or testing profiles. You’ll need to work out how these players fit at the next level. Plus there are solid prospects who might not test that well but their college performances have caught the eye.

I’ve given Pittsburgh’s Calijah Kancey a fringe first round grade and I wanted to single him out first because he might be the most intriguing yet challenging player to assess in this class.

I haven’t seen a player with his first-step quickness, ability to pair his hands and feet together to beat blocks, explosive burst and disruptive quality since Aaron Donald. Now, that isn’t to say Kancey is Donald. Nobody is ever going to be Aaron Donald. He is a one-off. He is a unicorn. He’s a ripped, low body-fat, powerful machine filled with violence and speed — somehow combining the quicks of an elite edge rusher with a frame just big enough to handle every down duty inside.

It’s no slur on Kancey to say he doesn’t match that description. Yet their physical profiles are similar. Donald measured 6-0 3/4 and 285lbs at his combine. Kancey is listed at 6-0 and 280lbs. Donald ran a 4.68 forty and jumped a 32 inch vertical. Kancey has been timed running a 4.69 and has jumped a 31.5 inch vertical.

When you watch the tape, you feel like you’re watching Donald sometimes:

Now, it is worth noting that while Kancey has impressive production (34 TFL’s, 15.5 sacks for Pittsburgh) he’s still a long way behind Donald — perfectly illustrating that nobody will ever be Donald 2.0 (66 TFL’s for Pittsburgh and 29.5 sacks).

Yet the Seahawks do need to find a young, disruptive interior threat. They’ve needed it for years. Perhaps Kancey will be worth taking a chance on?

I’m not sure whether he will appeal strongly to Seattle though, or whether his production will translate. The Seahawks have typically sought long-armed defensive tackles — even among shorter, squatty linemen (see: Poona Ford). For all of Kancey’s brilliant athletic features it’s possible his lack of length will stymy his ability to keep his frame clean and he could be overwhelmed at the next level against better blockers.

It’s also hard to work out what his position is. You probably couldn’t play him on early downs at 280lbs because unless he is Donald 2.0 he’ll likely be smothered. Can you play him in a three man front? Possibly. Yet his best quality is attacking the interior to force pressure, not acting as a five-technique.

If he’s ultimately viewed as a specialist interior rusher who plays mostly passing downs — he could impact a lot of games but how early do you take a player who might not play a high percentage of snaps?

How he fits is a quandary teams will need to work out. Yet his tape, the consistency with which he wins, his testing profile and his ability to wreak havoc on the interior warrants celebrating and as such, I’m comfortable with a fringe first round grade in this initial attempt at a horizontal board. Provided he tests as well as expected — I wouldn’t have an issue with any team taking a shot on him in round one, even if it ultimately doesn’t work out. Can you really blame anyone for trying to find the next Aaron Donald?

It’s a similar story for Tyrus Wheat. He plays outside linebacker but has an unconventional frame for the position. He has a chunky build at 6-2 and 270lbs. He’s caught between an edge and a three-technique type and doesn’t really fit either ideally. He’s not typically a player the Seahawks have drafted. They tend to go after the praying-mantis style frame — long and lean. There are players in this class — Will McDonald, B.J. Ojulari — who fit that profile. There are also more conventional LEO/EDGE types such as K.J. Henry. All are extremely athletic and filled with potential and could offer value in the top-50.

Wheat has freakish athleticism though. Watch him dunk a basketball below. Yes, that’s him playing with Philadelphia Eagles’ receiver and former Heisman winner DeVonta Smith:

How do you grade a player like this? He’s so unconventional to look at, yet his testing profile is expected to be astonishing — and you can see that in the video above and with plays like this:

He can be powerful and dynamic off the edge but the incredible thing is how well he drops in coverage. He’s recorded an interception every year at Mississippi State — not usual for a defensive lineman/linebacker. He also has six career PBU’s.

Both Kancey and Wheat are intriguing, unusual players who will shine at the combine. I’m not sure either will end up in Seattle, due to the years of data we have on their ‘types’ — but I wanted to touch on them here to begin.

I think it’s a reasonable safety class and it’s why the Seahawks should seriously consider saving money on Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams, despite the hefty dead money hit, to go in a different direction.

A reminder — if you designate Diggs as a post-June 1st cut, which is what they did with Carlos Dunlap this year, you save $14m and can split the dead money between 2023 and 2024 ($4.1m each year). If you designate Adams as a post-June 1st cut you save $11m but would take on a $7.1m dead hit in 2023 and a whopping $14.2m dead hit in 2024.

You can designate two players per year as a post-June 1st cut, so this is possible. I don’t think the Seahawks will do it but the $25m saving might pay for Geno Smith’s next deal and would give you ample money to fill out your roster and retain/replace the likes of Poona Ford and Jason Myers.

Certainly it feels very difficult to justify a $36m outlay on Adams and Diggs next year when you only have around $32m in effective cap space for 2023, you only have 33 contracted players and currently have zero quarterbacks signed beyond this season.

If they do seek replacements in the draft, there are options.

Christopher Smith is a dynamic free safety who covers ground brilliantly. You can leave him deep to help support cornerbacks against the deep-ball. He can run up to the line and hit in the running game and short-passing game. He plays with intensity and quickness and is generally a very sure tackler:

I’m not convinced Smith will have a brilliant testing session at the combine and that could limit his stock. He’s not Earl Thomas. Yet if he runs a solid 4.4 or low 4.5 there’s no reason why he can’t be a second round option.

Ji’Ayir Brown is another player with a stocky, unconventional frame for his position but he’s an outstanding athlete who just makes plays. He has 9 interceptions over the last two seasons. He’s reportedly capable of a 3.99 short shuttle at 208lbs and is said to run in the 4.45 range. He’s well known as the voice of the Penn State locker room and he will also likely be a day two pick.

JL Skinner is a punishing, tone-setting hitter who will make opponents fear running any kind of crossing route. He can play up at the line and defend the run tremendously. He’s no slouch in coverage and he has a physical mentality that isn’t a million miles off Kam Chancellor:

Skinner looks like a day two pick with the potential to rise higher if he tests well. He has an impressive, focused mindset too which will appeal to teams. I’m a big fan of bringing him in to add some violence back to the secondary.

There’s also Brian Branch at Alabama. He’s another excellent athlete (reportedly he’s clocked 22.3mph on the GPS system) and a polished performer. There are two sides to his game. For the most part he’s a Rolls Royce in coverage and plays with a smooth quality, with sudden, gliding movements. Yet he can also hit like a hammer and has had some big tackles this season. He’s played in the slot and at safety and will likely be a first round pick even if I am personally grading him in the second round.

Later on — I’m intrigued to see how Wisconsin’s John Torchio tests because he’s an underrated player with speed, playmaking quality and some toughness. He was very impressive against Ohio State this year. TCU’s Abraham Camara has also been a bit of a gem at times this season. He can hit, he’s got a smooth back-pedal and can line up in a variety of spots. I’m not sure, however, that he’ll turn pro in 2023.

Back to the D-line and regulars will know I’ve been a big fan of Alabama’s Byron Young for some time. He impacts every game and doesn’t get anywhere near enough attention. People are acting like his performance on Saturday against Ole Miss was some kind of arrival. It wasn’t. He’s been making plays all season.

Young lives in the backfield — he is constantly winning 1v1 to either push his blocker back into the pocket or use his combination of power and quickness to shed and penetrate. He has a knack of knowing when to stay put, jump and get a paw in the air to deflect a pass. He’s extremely versatile and can play inside at defensive tackle or as a 3-4 DE.

How many 6-3, 295lbs defensive linemen do you see attack the edge like this?

Young is high-character and a passionate performer on the field, highly respected by team mates. It won’t surprise me if the Washington Commanders draft him in round two if they need to replace Da’Ron Payne. He’s not necessarily going to be an 8-10 sack dynamo at the next level but if you want someone who can play with discipline, deliver consistent results and can be both stout against the run but also provide surprising ability against the pass — Young is one to monitor. I think he’d be an excellent fit for Seattle’s modified scheme and I’m grading him in round two before any testing results are known.

It’s a thick looking defensive end class and there will options stretching deep into round two. This is a contrast to the depth at defensive tackle which is, once again, extremely thin. I would suggest that if you want to draft a defensive tackle you’ll need to do it early. Michigan’s Mazi Smith will be a combine star and should join Jalen Carter in the top-12 range. The positional value runs out very quickly, though.

If the Seahawks address their D-line in free agency, it’ll be indicative of the limited options in the rookie pool.

As noted earlier, the Seahawks have tended to go for lean length in their edge rushers and LEO types. The most obvious players who fit the bill in this class are Tyree Wilson (he will be a high first rounder), K.J. Henry (for me, a top-45 type), B.J. Ojulari (also top-45) and Will McDonald (could easily end up in round one despite an underwhelming 2022 season). Washington’s Bralen Trice, if he declares, is a very intriguing player and TCU’s Dylan Horton — despite some hit-and-miss tape — is expected to test well.

Keep an eye on Michigan’s Mike Morris too. He has amazing size and agility, plus the ability to embarrass blockers by using speed-to-power. I don’t think he’s played with enough urgency this year, apart from the rivarly/revenge game against Michigan State where he played like his pants were on fire. Nevertheless, there’s a lot of potential here and he has the size to play five-technique or power-end.

Oregon defensive back Trikweze Bridges screams Seahawks. He has an incredible lean frame, enormous long arms and he appears tailor made to be drafted and developed by this team. His tackling and coverage has improved this season, he’s developed into more of a playmaker (three interceptions this season) and even if he doesn’t go in round two, I think that’s a solid mark for what he is and is indicative of his immense potential.

The talk about Georgia linebacker Nolan Smith being a possible top-10 pick was always a bit much for me. It was a similar story with Nakobe Dean a year ago. Smith’s performances are decent but he’s asked to rush the passer off the edge and it isn’t his best role. Every time I’ve watched him I’ve always been left wanting more. He should be developed as a more orthodox linebacker because he has an unbelievable testing profile — but he isn’t an EDGE. Georgia used him as an EDGE too often.

Even, in reporting his season-ending injury a couple of weeks ago, referred to Smith as a ‘top edge rush prospect’. That isn’t him. He needs to be a more conventional linebacker.

At SPARQ he ran a 4.15 short shuttle at 235lbs, jumped a 40 inch vertical and delivered a world class overall score of 141.18. In terms of pure potential and athletic freakishness — as a day two pick he would be a brilliant project to try and turn into something special in his more natural position. Teams will love his character and personality. He has a ‘you’d be happy for your daughter to marry this guy’ vibe and he’ll get top marks during interviews.

Put him in space, let him roam the field and fly to the ball-carrier. Use him occasionally as a pass rusher. He averaged three sacks a season at Georgia and five TFL’s. There’s a player here but he’s not a top-15 EDGE like many are saying. Thus, he likely lasts a bit longer than people are suggesting but the sky’s the limit for him due to his physical profile.

On a similar note, Owen Pappoe at Auburn has had a fairly horrible season. That is, until the Head Coach was fired recently and he suddenly looked a lot better against Texas A&M at the weekend. As with Smith, he has an unbelievable testing profile. He ran a 4.00 short shuttle at SPARQ, jumped a 40 inch vertical and had another world class overall score of 147.12.

The Seahawks have often sought big-time athletes at linebacker. Pappoe’s unspectacular play in college likely puts him the third round range. As a project, he’d be a good option.

Another linebacker, Ventrell Miller, is a different story. He isn’t likely to have the brilliant combine that Smith and Pappoe are capable of. However, he’s played his arse off all season for Florida. He’s played through injury. He flies to the football, sniffs out anything to the sideline and he’s the emotional leader of the Gators defense. I don’t know whether his profile will fit Seattle’s athletic preferences but he’s been really fun to watch all season and it’s easy to imagine him providing a steadying presence at the next level too.

Buyer beware on big name defenders

There are players in this class who are being consistently touted as high picks. They probably will be too due to their testing profile and potential.

There are some things to note, however, that aren’t being discussed enough in the broader media.

For example — Myles Murphy plays like a pussycat. His size and pass-rushing qualities are appealing. There’s no dog in him though. He’s been a liability against the run this year and he didn’t even start Clemson’s recent game against Louisville. I get a lot of ‘decent not great’ vibes from Murphy — a bit like another former Clemson rusher, Shaq Lawson. There’s also not a lot of muscle definition on Murphy’s frame. It kind of makes you wonder whether he’s been able to get by as a great, natural athlete where everything has just been fairly easy for him so far. Then at the next level, against other great athletes, is he going to be able to find that edge to be a difference maker? Or will he play within himself?

Clemson team mate Bryan Bresee has been through a lot over the last 14 months. He had an ACL injury a year ago and his younger sister sadly passed away recently due to cancer. There are justifiable reasons why he hasn’t found his best form in 2022.

That said, we have to evaluate what he’s put on tape and he tends to play in only flashes. He had a great sack early in the Louisville game at the weekend, for example, then disappeared.

There are plenty of reps this year where he’s controlled by a middling interior blocker 1v1. Is he a better athlete than football player at this point?

At the same time, you watch his High School tape and it’s reminiscent of Jadeveon Clowney before he went to South Carolina:

Bresee, as with Clowney, looks like an adult that has been allowed to play against children. That’s the type of freakish physical specimen he is. If you draft him early, you could end up with a special talent. Yet his talent needs to be harnessed properly. He needs to learn to make the most of his physical tools and get off blocks. He needs to be more disruptive, forceful and consistent.

For example — Bresee’s PFF grade this year is a 67.3. Jalen Carter’s is a 91.5. In three years at Clemson, Bresee’s grade has never topped 70.

He’s expected to run in the 4.7’s at 310lbs and if that happens, all bets are off. Yet it shouldn’t be assumed teams will view him as a sure-fire top-12 pick based on the tape that’s available.

Tyree Wilson’s tape at Texas Tech is quite a thing too. His performance against NC State was exceptional. He’s 275lbs, has +35 inch arms and his combination of speed and power is rare. When he turns it on, he can be unstoppable in college. He can rush the edge, he can dip inside, he can bull-rush as well as he can win with quickness. He has everything.

Yet there are plenty of games where you’re just left wanting more. I think he’s a lock to go in the top-15 and he could be a serious option for Seattle as a versatile piece who can disrupt as an EDGE or a five-technique. Again though, you want to see more consistency in his performance. Like Bresee, the idea is sometimes better than the reality. But at least Wilson has shown evidence of brilliance. It would also be quite the thing if Seattle used Denver’s first round pick on a player called ‘Wilson’.

Discussing the quarterbacks

Why have I got Will Levis as the top quarterback and Anthony Richardson #2?

The process of judging quarterbacks goes way beyond stats and results. You are making a projection based on transferable skills. You also need to consider situation, scheme, traits, accuracy. It’s a nuanced process.

Trying to find a franchise quarterback is incredibly difficult and no way of doing things is fool proof. I will explain my thoughts and hope we can avoid ‘Levis/Richardson suck’ replies because frankly they’re a waste of time. Also, I have no horse in this race. I don’t have personal biases (why would I?). Other players I’ve liked previously have been dropped while others I’ve been sceptical about have risen over the last few weeks of tape study.

I’ve also watched every game most of the quarterbacks have played this year, at great cost to my social life, so if nothing else I’m speaking from a position of intense research.

It’s very easy to watch Kentucky or Florida at various times this year and think the team and thus the quarterback stinks. There are a few things to consider though.

Firstly, Levis and Richardson are the only two quarterbacks within the top group functioning within a system even remotely close to ‘pro-style’. Both players are making checks at the line, they are adjusting, they are responsible for protection shifts and they orchestrate the offense. Both have handled these duties well for the most part. They will enter the league with a degree of expertise that the other quarterbacks will need to learn.

Of course, that alone isn’t enough to justify a higher grade. Levis and Richardson also have exceptional traits and upside. They are big, strong, athletic players. They are both capable of throwing off-platform and off-balance with power and accuracy. They have been able to make the improbable happen:

They can both improvise, create and they can drive the ball downfield. They have made big plays with their legs either to avoid pressure or break off big runs.

There are also issues they need to rectify. Levis’ footwork is inconsistent and has led to some sloppy turnovers at Kentucky. Of course his high number of interceptions will always be highlighted. Let’s also acknowledge that his latest, against Vanderbilt, was a last play heave on fourth and forever with seconds to go. He had one against Florida that was really a sack/fumble. Not all interceptions are the same and while Levis is certainly responsible for some — I would argue that his are mostly less egregious than some of the other players in this class (more on that in a moment).

Levis has also had to deal with a nightmarish situation in Kentucky. It’s interesting that during the Washington vs Oregon game on Saturday, Bo Nix was sacked and the commentator noted it was only the second time all season he’d been sacked.

Kentucky’s horrible O-line has given up 39 sacks this season — the fourth most in college football. Only Akron, Colorado State and Tulsa have conceded more.

By the way, they play Georgia on Saturday. Good luck, Will.

Here are some comparisons:

Oregon — 2 sacks
Ohio State — 7 sacks
Washington — 7 sacks
Florida — 12 sacks
Alabama — 17 sacks
Tennessee — 22 sacks (six vs Georgia)
Kentucky — 39 sacks

On top of that, Kentucky possesses a bits-and-pieces crew of receivers and tight ends, plus a porous defense.

Levis has been hammered, battered and bruised all season — with almost no support and at times, no chance. Without him, I’m not sure how many wins they would’ve had. Possibly as few as one or two courtesy of their non-conference schedule.

These are things you have to consider when judging players. Environments are different. He isn’t playing in a wide-open, one-read, half-field system throwing to first round picks and tearing up opponents for a power-house team. He has been a piñata in Kentucky.

Again, that’s not to totally excuse the errors this year. It is something to consider though. So many of the big name QB’s are not having to endure what he is. Levis has outstanding physical tools, a huge arm and he can do everything NFL teams want their quarterbacks to do in 2022. There’s a reason respected evaluators like Jim Nagy are comparing him to Josh Allen and Justin Herbert. He has faced adversity and produced Kentucky’s best period of winning football in years. He has excellent character.

Levis is an easy projection due to his transferable skills. It doesn’t mean he will succeed in the NFL. Far from it. But when you’re a GM making a decision with a high first round pick — and your job depends on getting this right — it’s easy to square the circle in your mind about Levis’ pro potential.

As for Richardson — he has been unfairly judged this season. After a sluggish start (understandable given this is his first full year as a starter) — he has really improved. He hasn’t had a turnover in four games. He now has a total touchdown tally of 20 with only 7 interceptions.

We are talking about a player who could become another Josh Allen. Like Allen, it might take some time to settle into life in the NFL but when he gets there — watch out. This is a player capable of throwing a 60-yard bomb and running for a 75-yard touchdown in the same game. He is mentally processing at a level most quarterbacks are not, despite all the talk of being ‘raw’.

There aren’t many more exciting players than Richardson to emerge in the last few years. And yes — he does have to improve in certain areas. He has too many throws that are a little behind the intended target or just miss the mark. He needs to work out how to make the most of his physical tools as a runner and he needs to throw with a bit more variety when it comes to touch.

Yet the sky is the limit for Richardson. He could go first overall. Believe it. Teams want to take a chance on ‘special’ and that’s what he is. Don’t be surprised if, as the process goes along, Richardson emerges as the player to have. He has MVP physical potential.

Quickly on to other players. I am a huge fan, like everyone else, of Bryce Young. I really admire the way he plays. He’s accurate, he’s extremely creative and his personality and attitude are likeable. There are times this year where he’s dragged a surprisingly sluggish Alabama kicking and screaming into contests.

I do think, however, it’s not wrong to question whether a 5-10, 185lbs quarterback translates to the next level. Can he succeed at the same rate, when he isn’t playing for Alabama and he’s facing a lot more adversity? He’s already had one shoulder injury this year and it has impacted his throwing power and accuracy in recent weeks. He has been a bit more streaky. It’s not wrong to show some concern about how he’ll stand up to the upcoming battering that’s heading his way.

Quarterback debates become so tribal online and people are already going to war over this group. I would say — there’s nothing wrong with believing that Young should be the #1 pick. It’s a valid argument. If others question how a player like this will translate to the NFL — that should be fine too. It is also a valid argument.

Young will be a first round pick. Possibly a very early first round pick. I’m suspicious that teams will view him the same way the media does. We’ll find out soon enough. I just don’t think there’s a right or wrong opinion here. Young will be a very interesting case-study and how he performs will influence future decision making because there’s never really been anyone like him before. I wouldn’t be surprised if he landed anywhere from #1 overall to #20.

I think C.J. Stroud might suffer too. He has an elite supporting cast and like Hendon Hooker, Mike Penix Jr and others — he plays in a hand-holding, uber-spread system that makes his life easy. He has had some questionable throws and off-games, mixed in with some of the prettiest passes you’ll ever see. His intermediate accuracy suffers at times but he’s also throwing outstanding touch passes deep downfield with perfect placement and velocity. He has brilliant arm talent yet he’s largely untested in terms of dealing with pressure, going through progressions and managing an offense.

All three of the players I’ve just mentioned (Stroud, Hooker, Penix Jr) are in the same environment. Watch the games. You see them stare down a safety or linebacker to freeze them in position. The aim is to create a window so they can throw to the intended target as their only real read. When it works, it’s great. I’ve never seen a QB throw to wide open players at the rate Hooker has this year. I think I could’ve thrown some of his touchdown passes. When you get players to bite and someone like Jalin Hyatt is able to accelerate against single coverage, it’s no contest. That to me isn’t particularly impressive and needs to be acknowledged when you’re watching these wide open schemes.

Stroud and Penix, similarly, get a lot of favourable opportunities.

Those two in particular will win a lot of admirers. They both have outstanding arm talent. Thus, when the scheme works as intended, they look amazing. They hold the safety, their intended target gets open. They don’t have to think or read. They just deliver.

Yet the problem is none of these players are actually processing at the line. They look to the sideline, get told what to do and they do it. It’s why we’ve seen all three, amazingly, throw the same interception this year. You could take a screen grab of the intended receiver each time and the only difference is the jersey colours. When the defense doesn’t bite on the look-off — and they still return to their intended target and throw blind, expecting it to work — they throw into triple coverage. There has literally been a triangle of defenders surrounding the one player the offense tells them to go to on picks all three have thrown this year.

It would be staggering for a NFL quarterback to throw into that coverage. He would be expected to process what the defense is giving him, not throw to what the cardboard cut-out says on the sideline — with the coaches making the decision for him.

At the next level you need to be able to go through reads and make those decisions yourself. Your offensive coordinator or Head Coach isn’t going to tell you what to do and then hope it clicks into place. You need to read a defense, make adjustments, then go through two or three progressions. These guys don’t.

As such, these players are harder to project because you don’t know how they’ll handle a pro-offense. Who knows if they’ll be able to process, make good decisions and throw in a completely different environment than the one they experienced in college?

I would be happy to take a chance on Stroud early because he has all of the tools to be great. But he needs time to learn how to be a NFL quarterback. I genuinely fear for him if he’s thrown in at the deep end as a rookie. Give him a year playing behind a good, veteran quarterback. Look how Patrick Mahomes benefitted playing behind Alex Smith for a year.

Penix Jr will need the same. When he has had to think on his feet and make decisions — at times we’ve seen moments like the ugly pick against Oregon. When he isn’t protected by the scheme, can he use his head to get his clearly impressive arm to make the right throws? That is a big question mark and I’m not convinced, based on what I’ve seen this year, that he’ll thrive when he is required to take on a lot more responsibility. Plus, he has a significant injury history and when he’s come up against other quarterbacks like Dorian Thompson-Robinson at UCLA, he’s been second best. Yet the arm talent is special.

People will ask why I now have Penix Jr graded in round three. His arm is so impressive it warrants that kind of a grade. He has won me over to an extent simply because of the arm. I still wouldn’t necessarily vouch for him becoming a NFL starter and I’m not sure I’d want to take him in round three given some of the other players who might be available in that range. That said, there aren’t many players with an arm like his. Someone will give him a chance to eventually compete for a job.

On Hooker — he’s clearly had a terrific season and helped elevate Tennessee to a new level. That said — he’ll be a 25-year-old rookie. He’s been a lot less accurate than people realise this year. As noted earlier, I’ve not seen a player have so many wide open throws in a single season. There have been some oddly inaccurate throws covered up by the insane production delivered by the admittedly brilliant Josh Heupel scheme. Hooker is also throwing to two potential top-45 picks with one of the very best offensive tackles in college football, Darnell Wright, protecting him.

Elsewhere, I’m a big admirer of UCLA’s Thompson-Robinson. He’s taken a huge leap forward this year and is a fantastic playmaker, an accurate passer, a dynamic athlete and for me his floor will be a Tyrod Taylor style backup — with the potential to claim a starting job in the right environment.

Stanford’s Tanner McKee has little hope of succeeding in Stanford’s putrid setup. Look at these numbers courtesy of PFF’s Mike Renner

Percentage of throws 10+ yards downfield that are charted as tight windows:

McKee — 52.7%
Levis — 39.3%
Richardson — 34.5%
Hooker — 24.8%
Young — 24.1%
Stroud — 23.3%

It’s another reason why we need to consider situation vs production/stats/aesthetics.

I do get a bit of a Mike Glennon vibe with McKee. Someone will give him a chance, as they did with Glennon (multiple teams, actually, when it came to Glennon).

Overall I think this is a good quarterback class with early round options and some depth. However, I do wonder if teams will view players like Jalen Carter and Will Anderson as ‘better bets’ at the top of round one — especially if they can either hold off on the quarterback position or if they have two early picks (eg the Houston Texans) meaning they might be able to go Carter/Anderson first — then take a quarterback with their second pick (or trade up).

For the Seahawks, despite everything this year, I don’t think they should look a gift-horse in the mouth if a player like Anthony Richardson is available to draft, stash and develop. That should remain a consideration.

Let’s also not rule out the possibility that Geno Smith will be too expensive to retain for a team not flush with cap space in 2023. I asked Pete Carroll yesterday about the possibility of contract talks before the end of the season and he seemed to suggest that was unlikely:

This is the right approach, of course, because I think you need the league to help establish Smith’s market. Currently, you’re only bidding against yourself. I don’t think another team is going to blow Smith (who turns 33 next year) away with a contract offer and would imagine him staying in Seattle is a formality. If it did happen, though, the prospect of a rookie quarterback becomes much more likely. And I do think the Seahawks spent accordingly this year expecting that they’d go quarterback early in 2023. Having only $33m in effective cap space makes a lot more sense if you’re paying your quarterback $6m in 2023 rather than $20-30m.

Final notes

There are some attractive running backs if the Seahawks opt to move on from Rashaad Penny. Georgia’s Kenny McIntosh would be a fantastic third round option. He’s not only a terrific pass-catcher out of the backfield (a nice third down back) but he’s also a vicious runner who packs a punch with good size. I’ll keep trotting out this quote from Georgia coach Kirby Smith, speaking about McIntosh: “I told him he’s a bad MF-er. He’s tough. He’s physical.

UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet is a tremendous player who deserves a second round grade and Kentucky’s Chris Rodriguez is a yards-after-contact beast.

At the top of the running back class is obviously Texas’ Bijan Robinson — a player likely to garner a top-three grade on most boards.

At tight end — Michael Mayer is a tremendous player and possibly the best catcher of a football away from his body I’ve ever seen. His straight-line speed is a small concern but his short-area quickness, agility and ability to gain subtle separation makes up for it. He operates mostly out of the slot but he’s a good in-line blocker too.

Watch out for Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave. He will dominate the combine and should generate second round buzz. Georgia’s Darnell Washington is built like a tank and is basically a sixth offensive lineman who can run a few routes. Dalton Kincaid at Utah is a prolific pass-catcher and has a transferable skill-set for the modern NFL.

I don’t think the Seahawks will spend big on the interior O-line moving forward, at least if they’re all-in on the LA Rams’ blocking scheme. That said, I’m a huge fan of Kansas State guard Cooper Beebe who I have marked for round two. He’s physical, dominant and he moves well for his size. He can be a brilliant puller from the guard spot. He can also bury defenders:

I also really like TCU’s Steve Avila — he has great mobility for his size, he’s incredibly competitive and strong at the POA. He’s played guard, center and tackle for TCU. He’s incredibly athletic for a 340lbs linemen. I have Avila in round three.

I think two of the highly touted tackle prospects — Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski and Georgia’s Broderick Jones — are better suited to left guard. I wouldn’t advocate necessarily taking either with a high pick (I have them both graded for round two). I think Damien Lewis is worth persevering with and his PFF grade is a team-high (for the O-line) 71.6.

I also really like the center class. Minnesota’s John Michael Schmitz is big, bad and physical. Joe Tippman and Ricky Stromberg are both tremendous athletes for their size and should test very well. Michigan’s Olusegun Oluwatimi is Mr. Dependable and Sedrick Van Pran has a nice combo of sound technique and plus athleticism. There’s some depth at the position with Oregon’s Alex Forsyth just providing a sturdy ‘gets the job done’ approach. I’m not sure Seattle will draft a center early given they seem to be very much in the Rams’ mindset of going with a smaller, wrestling-style brawler. None of the centers I’ve watched so far fit that description.

I do hope the Seahawks stick to trenches though. They had so much success doing that with the 2022 class and as we saw in Germany, there’s still work to be done on both lines. Keep building up front.

Finally, it’s another loaded receiver class. I really like the idea of drafting a big, athletic WR3. TCU’s Quentin Johnston has a remarkable frame and testing profile and could be an option early in round one. I’m a big fan of the Tennessee duo of Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman.

Ole Miss’ Jonathan Mingo is massively underrated by the media and might be my preferred option in round two. He’s a real mismatch when he lines up as a big slot, he has soft hands and he’s just a pain in the arse to cover:

You’ve also got West Virginia’s Bryce Ford-Wheaton if he declares — another very intriguing big, athletic receiver who is reportedly capable of a 40 inch vertical, a 10-8 broad and a 4.02 short shuttle at 6-4 and 225lbs.

The class is also made up of dynamic smaller receivers. Boston College’s Zay Flowers and North Carolina’s Josh Downs in particular stand out. Flowers has the best stop-start and change of direction ability I’ve ever seen in a receiver and Downs is a lot like a Tyler Lockett/Golden Tate hybrid.

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  1. Alec

    Hey Rob, great article.

    As a UW fan, one of the things that stands out to me is how well the offensive line has played in the pass game, specifically the tackles Fautanu and Rosengarten. Fautanu is draft eligible, and Im curious if you’ve had a chance to look at him? His length is a bit less than ideal, but he has impressive athleticism and demeanor.

    • Rob Staton

      I haven’t studied him specifically, apologies

    • DJ 1/2 way

      Also on the UW OL is Jaxson Kirkland who has had some injury setbacks and was bounced inside to guard but might offer some UDFA value.

  2. cha

    This is incredibly good Rob. You should be proud at what you’ve been able to work up here.

    • Rob Staton

      Thanks man

    • cha

      Can I add a suggestion? If it’s a spreadsheet, add a counter for each round. That way you have an instant total of how many firsts, how many 1-2’s, how many seconds, etc.

      • Rob Staton

        I’ll look to install that

        • cha

          I’m counting

          10 players in Round 1
          10 in Round 1-2
          36 in Round 2
          41 in Round 3
          32 in Round 4

          That’s 129 guys that grade out currently in the top 4.

          128 picks regularly scheduled (4×32) minus Miami’s forfeited pick plus 3rd and 4th round comps so that’s about in range for sure.

  3. Big Mike

    Thank you so much for this Rob. I assume you jumped in early with a horizontal board because of the sheer number of picks Seattle has?
    I was surprised to see Penix at round 3 but you explained it. And yeah that pick vs. Orgon was brutal.
    Of the QBs that aren’t first rounders if Seattle goes that route, who would be your first choice? DTR?

    • Rob Staton

      I’ve been planning to do an earlier board due to the extra picks, yes. I also thought this would be a good time because of the bye week.

      To be honest, not sure I’d take a QB later on. I think the kind of range we’re talking, you’d be taking a potential third stringer to develop when you might be able to get a big contributor (see: Abraham Lucas).

  4. All I see is 12s

    Wow, what an article! Can’t wait to jump into this! Thank you for all your hard work Rob. We are so lucky, as a fan base, to have you.
    A bit off the subject. Pete continues to talk up Drew Lock. I keep thinking about what you said about Seattle planning on having a rookie qb next season for cap reasons if nothing else. If Geno continues his current play, I wonder if there is a scenario where Seattle places the franchise tag on Smith. I wonder if a team like the Texans and Lovie Smith would offer up the latter of their 1st rounders or a second for the rights to Geno. I don’t think Lovie wants a young project qb, but a mature veteran who can operate the system. Geno can be that. The Texans could then use the remaining picks to build their roster and not wait for a qb to develop.
    In turn the Hawks can sign Drew for a reasonable price and use the Denver pick to draft a qb to develop. If the Hawks think that Geno is a product of Waldrons system, then perhaps they believe drew lock can be the same.

    What do you all think?
    I mean, I’m excited about Smith too, what kind of cuts would we have to make to our current roster to afford him?

    • Rob Staton

      Unfortunately the Seahawks don’t have enough cap space to franchise Geno Smith. It would wipe them out and they couldn’t complete a roster.

      I don’t think they’ll need to though. I don’t see anyone offering him mega money on a long term deal. They should be able to work this out.

      I think they like the Smith/Lock dynamic and might even think they can turn Lock into another Geno over time.

    • BobbyK

      There’s no way I’d give Geno more than $20 million. Myself, I would not come close to $20 million. Not if I could get Lock to sign a 1-year Geno deal to be the starter next year (not even $4 million), which would be perfect if we wanted our Broncos pick to perform an Alex Smith/Patrick Mahomes act next year.

      The Seahawks offense is one of the more talented units in the NFL. There’s bookend tackles, a stud RB and one of the best WR duos on earth in DK/Lockett. Don’t get me wrong, he’s certainly exceeded my expectations but he’s never led a late game scoring drive to win a game yet with the Seahawks (had a month worth of chances last year as well). He gets flustered to me when it counts most. The Seahawks have never won a game in a contest Geno has started when they have been down by more than 4 points. Even though Geno has given us a lot more than we thought – I still have higher expectations for the most important position in sports.

      If you’re going to release Bobby Wagner, there’s no reason to show loyalty to Geno Smith for what he has done so far. Now, if the Hawks go to the Super Bowl and Geno leads a last minute TD drive to win the game 28-26 or something – then I’ll climb aboard the “pay the man” camp that will probably develop more if the success continues.

      • Henry Taylor

        In fairness, Geno’s last two drives against the Bucs were excellent, but the defense shit the bed and didn’t allow him a chance to make the game winning drive.

        If anything I would argue that, despite not having a comeback, Geno has looked his best in critical moments. Producing drives that kill off opposing teams late, I think that matters too.

    • cha

      If Geno continues his current play, I wonder if there is a scenario where Seattle places the franchise tag on Smith.

      The franchise tag could be a very troubling way to go. It could create more problems than offer solutions.

      First, as Rob pointed out, it would wipe out all of Seattle’s available cap room. Until they trade or extend Geno, they couldn’t sign anyone else. They’d miss the free agent market and be unable to even sign their own guys.

      Secondly, a franchise tag is fully guaranteed money. Estimates for the 2023 tags put the QB tag at $31.5 million. Geno and his agent would be on the first plane to Seattle to sign that tag before the Seahawks could change their minds. He has something like $11 million in career earnings. $31.5 million guaranteed isn’t something you walk away from at 32 years old.

      He might not get that much guaranteed money on a 2 or 3 year deal in the market, let alone on a one year extension.

      And if the Seahawks tag him, that sets his AAV price right there. It might prove extremely difficult for the team to trade him or extend him. Walking back to $20-28 AAV would be really hard.

      It is an interesting offseason talking point but not much more than that.

    • DJ 1/2 way

      Pete sounds like he thinks Drew Lock could do a similar job. I think there is a chance the Seahawks do draft a QB and start lock next year.

    • Doge

      If you think you can develop Lock into something I dont think there is a reason to draft a QB unless you really think they have star potential. Lock is young enough he can be an answer long-term. Obviously if he is good he probably just signs somewhere else which probably forces your hand a bit. Both seem really happy with the current situation though so who knows maybe Lock decides a good org and time to continue working is better than rushing to start for a mediocre franchise with a short leash.

      I’d be lying to say I wasnt tempted at using both first round picks on a EDGE + IDL tandem like Wilson + Smith. It really is the most obvious need from the perspective of raising our teams ceiling. The value may not be there, which highlights the point of taking the draft as it unfolds – ultimately exceptional talent is what tends to last in this league.

      I will say regarding Diggs/Adams – with free agents you are going to have to overpay for some talent. Its just very hard to pay for quality players and get the exact fit you want – ultimately the approach isnt that different to drafting, sign the best players you can at every price range – you have to spend money somewhere and ultimately depth at a position for a year isnt bad especially with our use of many DBs. Its nice to know the option is there and maybe when you really dig into probably draft options and the FA market it makes sense, I’m not confident though.

  5. JN

    I’d love Darnell Washington in the late rounds. With us having more heavy sets hed be great to add in there.

  6. Ashish

    Excellent article super excited to hear there are good options available in draft for defense.

    I would like hawks to draft both FS and SS safety, LB, DL , QB (if top choice is available in first pick), WR, RB, IOL (like the option who can play G,C and T hawks like players who can play different position).

    This comment always make laugh “For example — Myles Murphy plays like a pussycat.”

    Thanks for sharing link about the question you asked to Pete. I didn’t watch the press conference, if i remember correctly this is second time you got this wonderful opportunity. Pete – great question :).

  7. Brian Sanders

    All I want to say is THANK YOU for all the work you put into this for us fans! I appreciate you!


    • Rob Staton

      Thanks Brian

  8. Seahawkwalt

    Thank you for this article Rob..Fantastic work!

    • Rob Staton

      Thanks for reading

  9. DJ 1/2 way

    The first horizontal chart of the year is like a holiday for fans of this blog. So awesome Rob. Thank you.

    • Rob Staton

      Thanks DJ

  10. Trevor

    Wow this is incredible Rob. Thanks so much. The quality of your work never ceases to amaze.

    • Rob Staton

      Thanks Trevor

      Spread the word everyone

  11. DJ 1/2 way

    Very funny review of Denver’s latest loss.

    Also note, when a Seahawks loss helps a team get ahead of the Broncos, that is a very minor victory. I do not want the Seahawks to lose any games, but if they do, please let it be to a team that needs a victory to pass the Broncos and improve the pick.

    • Roy Batty

      I’ve been watching ThatsGoodSports for a long time.

      Brandon Perna is absolutely hilarious and has spot-on takes on so much of the hype, absurdity and general wackiness of the NFL.

      His current videos on Russ and the Broncos are eye-wateringly funny.

    • 12th chuck

      that’s funny, but I don’t think he ever watched the 92′ seahawks

      • Big Mike

        Many of us wish we hadn’t.

  12. Canadian Hawk

    Great work Rob (again)

    The amount of work you’ve put into this blog – year after year after year….
    Michael Meyer or Will Anderson would be great fits.

    Just terrific.

    Thank you.

    • Rob Staton

      Thank you CH

  13. DM34

    Hey Rob, have you checked out RB Israel Abanikanda from Pittsburgh? I think he can easily become a day 2 pick. He has 1000+ rushing Yds and 16 TDs this season.

    • Rob Staton

      I haven’t, sorry

      • Starhawk29

        I’ll second that. One to check out, good pass catcher too.

  14. Roy Batty

    Wow…just, wow, Rob!

    Such an early gift to all of us. I now have a great list of prospects to search on YT.

    And, I’m of the big slot receiver fandom, too. When the Cards asked Fitzgerald to move to the slot, it become an absolute nightmare for opposing teams. It also extended his career.

    I really hope they stick to a BPA plan of attack. Load the team up with incredible talent and jettison more expensive, less effective vets, even if it costs dead cap. That is the type of team Pete turns into champions. Do not revert to grabbing a guy just because you need to fill a position of need. If an absolute stud falls in the draft because there is a run on a different position group (like there have been on receivers), run to the podium and select him, no matter what his position is.

    They scored big this year with fast, powerful and, above all else, smart rookies.

    I am so amped for April 27th.

    • Rob Staton

      Thanks Roy

  15. Mick

    Thank you Rob, that’s a lot of hard work and it’s showing, great quality stuff. Good idea too to post in the bye week, but it feels like you posted it on Christmas.

    • Rob Staton

      Thanks Mick

  16. AlaskaHawk

    Thanks Rob – lots more players on that board than I expected.

    I’m saving most of my reading for tomorrow when I can savor it over a cup of coffee.

    I just wanted to say that the search for an interior defensive line pass rusher seems like looking for a unicorn. There is probably only 5 elite ones in the entire league. Considering the teams troubles stopping the run, I would rather they looked for stout defenders that can hold their positions. I would look for rushing from the larger pool of edge rushers.

  17. Denver Hawker

    Already in mid-off-season form I see. This type of content early has made the college football season more enjoyable- thanks Rob.

    • Rob Staton

      Thanks Denver

  18. Blackthorn

    This is absolute 🔥. Do you not sleep?

    Incidentally, I find the prospect of adding a Mingo AND a Ringo just too tantalizing.

    • Rob Staton

      All they’d need then is a dingo and a bingo

      • Blackthorn


      • Old but Slow

        The day I’ve been waiting for. Rob’s Big Board version 1. Brilliant, man.

        As to Bingo, there was a defensive lineman back in the day named Bingo Bingaman, who was, at the time, the heaviest player in the game at mid-300s.

        • Rob Staton

          Thank you!

  19. Ashish

    People are still taking OL for hawks in mock draft lazy?

  20. Romeo A57

    Rob, thanks for this output and an overview of whom the Seahawks may want in the early rounds of next year’s draft.

    I can only imagine the grief you are going to get online for prognosticating that Levis and Richardson get drafted ahead of their favorite QBs or a Heisman Trophy winner.

    • Rob Staton

      If I had a bigger platform I’d get slaughtered

  21. Henry Taylor

    This is amazing thanks Rob. Is there a position group you would recommend as the most fun to dive into over the bye weekend?

    • Rob Staton

      In this class I’d probably say QB or WR

      But I do like the safeties I’ve got in the day two range

  22. Rushless pass

    Christmas came early! Thanks Rob!

    • Rob Staton

      Thanks for reading

  23. Marcus


    Big thanks. Content like this is important and helps frame the conversation surrounding the rebuild. Appreciate what you do for the community.

    Also, I’ll find it interesting to see how and why the early board evolves as time goes by.

    • Rob Staton

      Thanks Marcus

  24. swedenhawk

    want to echo what others have said. tremendous work, rob. i’m really looking forward to digging in to some these prospects during the bye week, especially the safeties. thank you.

    just curious: why don’t more college programs implement pro-style offenses? seems like it would benefit the players greatly, especially in a conference like the SEC. is it just that the pressure to win is too great at the collegiate level?

    • Rob Staton

      Thanks SH

      In terms of pro-style offenses — I think the answer lies in the success teams like Tennessee and Washington are having

  25. sonicreducer

    If Bruce Feldman did a Freaks List for bloggers, you would be #1, Rob. Thanks again for all the amazing content. You’re the man!

    • Rob Staton

      Thanks man

  26. Bankhawk

    MacGoo, you’ve done it again!
    A veritable tour de force, Rob-simply fantastic. With all this food for thought, I won’t even miss there not being a Hawks game this weekend! 🤔👍

    • Rob Staton

      Thank you!

  27. Peter

    This is amazing. I can not believe how many names there are to start watching highlight reels and game cut ups.

    Rob. Seriously. It’s almost difficult in a good way to begin discussing these names as I’ve, like many probably, have had to read and then reread this a few times to take it in.

    Cheers to you for making this huge work available so soon in draft season.

    • Rob Staton

      Thanks Peter

  28. ukalex6674

    This is next level stuff Rob. I can’t wait to sit down and go through it.

    Thanks so much for making the whole draft process such a valuable part of the season.

    • Rob Staton

      Thanks Alex

  29. bv eburg

    I just want to echo what others have said Rob, thanks for the quality content. I like to print out your final board and then check names off as they are drafted.

    • Rob Staton

      Thank you!

  30. Forrest

    If an impact player is not there who fits your team, TRADE DOWN. This team does well on day two and three. If day 2 is the value, increase your picks for that day.

    • Hoggs41

      You have to remember though it takes two to trade down. Teams try to trade down all the time without success.

  31. TomLPDX

    Finally had a chance to sit down and read this excellent article. Simply awesome! Thanks Rob, and thanks for the big board to chew on for a while. Wish there were more Aggies on it but alas, we suck this year.

    • Rob Staton

      Thanks Tom

  32. Cambs

    Astounding volume and quality of work you put in for us, Rob. Thank you.

    • Rob Staton

      Thanks cambs

  33. cha

    Kupp out Week 13 matchup.

    Ian Rapoport
    #Rams coach Sean McVay confirms that WR Cooper Kupp has a high ankle sprain and he will have tightrope surgery tomorrow. Headed to IR, he’s out at least four weeks.
    9:09 AM · Nov 15, 2022

    • Big Mike

      If Carroll can’t beat McVay with THIS Rams team, I’m gonna probably destroy my TV from throwing stuff at it.

      • Ashish

        I mean 50% of their offense is Cooper Kupp,

  34. shotime

    Hi Rob thanks so much for your board! Highly Appreciated!

    Question on 1st round grade and 2nd round grades, what level of prospect do you consider for first round grade? For example does 1st round grade has all pro player possibilities but 2nd round grades are solid starter types?

    • Rob Staton

      Thank you

      I don’t really view the grade and potential linked. It’s more a case of where I think you can realistically justify selecting a player

  35. BK26

    This is easily the most stressful draft from me playing armchair fan with an opinion on what the team needs to do. To me it’s all or nothing with Levis or Richardson (within reason, don’t tank the whole draft, just make sure to move and get one). I think the Bronco’s pick will be close enough with a few teams ahead of us not needing a quarterback, like the Jags. I think Geno is the solution for another year or so, but not quite what he had been played up to. Will we be able to sign him? Lock is at most the fallback placeholder until a new quarterback is ready. He ain’t it. I live down the road from where he is from and have watched him since his first year at Missouri since. I want a difference maker, a top talent, someone to get the future set up for years.

    After that, trenches and safety (along with getting rid of Diggs and Jamal). If the wr is there, then good. This is the draft to take some swings. To me this is the crucial draft for the future: set up a path to contend for years or be too cocky and use the picks like they have in the past.

  36. cha

    Pete Carroll Tuesday Press Conf (on Zoom!!!)

    [q Corbin] Bucs runs impact on DL this game? “They were committed and stuck to it. Didn’t have to get 7-8 yards every play. Ran back to back plays with commitment. Ran a variety of scheme plays, attacked us in a way we didn’t fit to control the game. That’s why you do it. Passing game really effective off of it. Didn’t stop that either. Couple plays, but they controlled the game with run plan.”

    [q Matt Brown] Match coverage more difficult on players? “If you drop match like we did on TD it can be a mess. Almost like man to man coverage. Just a play we practiced but didn’t see it quite right.”
    [q] Learning in scheme? “Yes. Consistency. Guys see things in same fashion, handoffs of assignments intricate. Hurt us early in the year, still takes time. Vikings had a tough game with it against Buffalo too.”

    [q Jen Mueller] Bye at the right time? “Coming at the time it comes, we’ll frame it as the right time LOL. Take a step back, perspectives grow. See things more clearly. Young players like Coby we may see him make a jump. See things more clearly. Fairly healthy, come out of it even better. Could be big boost as other teams struggle to stay healthy.”

    [q John Boyle] Jason Myers and Dickson good play? “Mike really put ball in great spots. Jason on it, banked a couple in, but having great year. Decisions early in game 4th and 5 wanted to utilize Mike to back them up and make a declaration and see how game goes. Decision made on quality of kickers.”

    [q Bob Condotta] Where at going into the bye? 6-4? “Positioned ourselves here. All know we’re not nearly as good as we can be. Recommit as we come back to really go for it. Firepower, talent as a team. Everything ahead of us. In control of everything. Winning division huge goal for us, only goal we deal with here. Win the West. Firm commitment. Good mentality even though we had to give up a game there, come out of it ok.”

    [q Michael SD] Coby play last five weeks? “More aggressive, defeating blocks more. More tackles in open field. Add to the overall. Great job on ST. Improved.”
    [q] 3rd down D Sunday bad – outlier? “Throwing and catching with guys hanging all over them was astounding. Hoping not all teams can do that. Number of plays really on it. Jackson got a play he PI’d on, shows we’re close enough. Great QB, great WR’s. They didn’t drop a thing in that game. They’d dropped some earlier this year.”
    [q] Mone healthy scratch? “Yes. Anticipated throwing the ball a lot. I know Matty you want to ask that question too, I’m sure.”

    [q] Rookie wall a real thing? “Varies, can’t categorize everyone the same. Depends on how worn down they are. Very much individual thing, how guys handle. This isn’t a place to beat you down, we’re not beating guys down. Guys upbeat and handle stress. Guys will be fine, but real concerned about individuals. Coaches looking for signals from each guy show overloaded. No signs of it yet. Break help us be fresher and better. Gonna tell them they should be.”
    [q] More mental? “I don’t think you can separate that. Connected. Manage our way through it.”

    [q Gregg Bell] Five straight days with team, what did you learn? “Felt connected. Smooth trip. Everybody helped facilitate, guys had fun. Open to newness of it. Did some shopping, brought souvenirs home, good time together, no hitches. Makes us stronger. Pisses me off we didn’t capitalize and get the win, celebrate like you like.”
    [q] Translate to 7 more games? “Guys said let’s get back to it. Get right back on track. Come back after bye healthier and stronger.”
    [q] Field pitch, league should look at for European games? “I don’t know soccer to know why they like field like that. Topic on right now. Keep getting better, understand how to make it safer. Not to say natural vs artificial. But real nice when it’s uniform. Talked about it when we were in London also. Same discussion.”

    [q Tim] Where can Geno improve? “Continue to take adv of scheme. See opps down the field. Taken care of FB in beautiful fashion. Make sure tempo going. Got caught tempo making things perfect at the LOS. Pressure, could be cleaner there. Stay ahead of the tempo. Better there.”

    [q Brady H] Geno’s running game, want him to run less? “Don’t want him hit, that’s all. Run all he wants, just avoid hits. Defenses are so good at knocking FB out, makes him vulnerable. Another run also got loose, he didn’t lose it. Take care of Geno. Extremely effective running. TD to Lockett gorgeous example of moving and throwing. Whatever it takes to protect FB. Grow awareness in that regard.”

    [q Corbin] Walker dev as a runner, still trying to find balance patience and going? “Yeah. Keep getting better. Nice job contributing in passing game. Made some extra yards. Stay on his feet extra 20-30 yards out there. He’s run enough to know, but has to grow with our guys. Great frontside runner, also a great cutback runner. Devastating. Spaces things out. Keep him healthy and growing.”

    [q Bob Condotta] Drew Lock see in practice? “Terrific competitor, loves going against first group. After it every day, beat the corners, beat the safeties. Competitive nature. Active playmaker too. Creative with throwing motion with arm, angles got a lot of stuff. Growing too, becoming one of our guys, understanding taking care of FB.”
    [q] Eskridge ok? “Should be fine. Bruised hand. Should be fine.”

    [q Gregg Bell] Tre Brown? “This week. Bye week doesn’t enter.”
    [q] Active roster? “Healthy ready to go. You’ll see us doing something like that.”

    [q John Boyle] What would you like the fans at Lumen to sing? “Don’t need to learn German. Something about that unified in the crowd. Everybody wanted to sing. Emotional part of that. Love their game. Part of the way they celebrate. After game, still singing, still sitting there. Sounders celebrations too, would be fun, why not here with us? Just fun.”

    [q Matty Brown] Struggles with run in 4 man front? “Calls for different approach and coverages, different angles. More oriented to rushing the passer. Good success in 5 man in general. Team throws a lot rather be in pass rush mode. Fits our personnel.”

  37. Gaux Hawks

    The teams below Denver keep giving us hope… with the 3rd pick:

    1R23 Anthony Richardson
    1R23 Calijah Kancey
    2R23 Christopher Smith
    2R23 JL Skinner
    3R23 Steve Avila
    4R23 Chris Rodriguez
    5R23 Luke Musgrave
    5R23 Abraham Camara
    6R23 Ventrell Miller

    • BK26

      If this happens…I would be putting money down for an NFC championship about 2 or 3 years from now haha.

  38. Matt


    You are the f*#&$n best.

    That is all.


    • Rob Staton

      Thanks Matt

  39. Crosljam

    Just to echo so many comments. Amazing amount of high quality content. Had to read it over 4 different attempts there was so much!

    • Rob Staton

      Thank you 👍🏻

  40. Jordan

    The conversation around Levis, Young, Stroud feels like the risk of going Trubisky over Watson.

    The muscly overaged “looks the part” QB from a middling Power 5 program, who didn’t grab a starting job until his 4th year of college, getting drafted over instant star underclassmen with big production for big programs playing in big games. Someone might make that mistake all over again.

    • Rob Staton

      Levis is nothing like Trubisky though

      And Young isn’t comparable to Watson

  41. Niiiiiiice Gary

    So you are saying to slam Richardson at +8000 to be the first overall pick? Awesome, your tip is in the mail.

    Fantastic job as always!!

    • AlaskaHawk

      You got me interested in checking out the Vegas odds. Some tidbits of information regarding quarterbacks:
      First Overall pick:
      CJ Stroud +190
      Bryce Young +250
      Will Levis +1500
      Hendon Hooker +2000
      Jaren Hall +4000
      That Richardson bet looks interesting. Kind of funny they list Stroud and Young so high, is it a sucker bet?

      For more information:

      and yes this was a Fantastic Job by Rob .

      • Niiiiiiice Gary

        Those Levis odds look great as well.

    • Romeo A57

      For those with Draft Kings it currently has the First Overall Pick at:

      +1500 Will Levis
      +7500 Anthony Richardson

      • Niiiiiiice Gary

        Richardson is +8000 on FanDuel.

  42. Paul

    This is amazing.

    • Rob Staton

      Thanks Paul

  43. Julian L

    Been looking forward to getting home to read this piece all day.

    Told the wife, on getting the kids to bed,; ‘Just catching up with an article online, will be with you when i’m done’
    Twenty minutes later, the wife: ‘You’re not reading an article, you’re reading a book’!

    Great piece, well worth the anticipation. Thanks Rob, loving the content.

    • Rob Staton

      Thank you Julian! Loved that with the wife!

  44. Robert Las Vegas

    Interesting thought did you know that Bruce Irvin has more sacks this year than Chandler Jones.rob I totally agree with you about adding to the trenches build up front 7 on the defense side of ball. And same on the offense line as well.

  45. Robert Las Vegas

    Another quick thought about free agents Chandler Jones got paid a lot of money and after 9 games has 0.5 sacks. And thank you Rob for all you do involving the draft.

  46. Comfect

    Just want to add to the chorus: thanks for all the work you do on this site! It’s amazing and unparalleled.

    • Rob Staton

      Thanks Comfect

  47. JJ

    After reading this…

  48. Palatypus


    • Rob Staton


  49. TomLPDX

    Tre Brown is on the roster!

  50. Jon W.

    Insane content Rob! Your analysis is top-notch. The Hawks need to hire you as their scouting director (not sure if you want to move to the U.S. though!)

    Respectful correction: there is only one “n” in Mr. Penix’s last name, not two.

    • Rob Staton

      Thanks for the correction — I’ve changed it

      Appreciate the kind words but what I do is distinctly unspectacular I just have an obsessive addiction to the draft and this blog, access to a lot of games and a very patient wife

  51. schwefelfell

    Simply outstanding Rob! Putting together such a detailed piece this early in the draft season, must’ve taken forever…

    • Rob Staton

      Thank you

  52. Rob Staton

    • Ashish

      Can something weird happens and we end up with Will Levis? Like having 5th pick via Denver and other team get hot on other QBs, Will Anderson?

      • Rob Staton

        It’s not out of the realms of possibility but I think he’s better suited to start quickly, rather than sit for years — especially given his age

    • Romeo A57

      It will be Interesting to see how Levis performs with much better o-line and receivers. The amount of Levis hate online is going to snowball closer to the draft as more mocks have him rated near the top. I think it is going to take a very thick skinned GM to make that pick.

      • Rob Staton

        I don’t see it that way at all

        Proper talent evaluators are literally comparing him to Allen and Herbert

        I don’t think you need a thick skin to go with that

  53. Tony

    Love your geno take. Been hearing a ton of people talking about signing him. But why? I would love for seattle to let him see his market and tell him we want a chance to match or beat something. Even if some team throws silly money at him, which is unlikely.

    • AlaskaHawk

      It’s not easy to find a good quarterback. Not easy at all. In fact two of this blogs draft favorites will probably be beyond the Seahawks reach. On top of that they have limited cap money to pay a vet.

      There is still the opportunity to make a low ball offer now and try to lock him up. If you don’t want to pay more than 7 or 10 million – just say so. Offer him 2 years guaranteed. He may go for it. The worst thing that can happen is that his agent laughs at them. I don’t think your bidding against yourself if you go in low.

      • BK26

        Unless you offend him with such a low offer and burn that bridge to resign. Remember, this is a guy that signed really late because he was trying to get as much as he could. Let the market get set. He might be coming back down to earth a little.

        • Peter

          Agree the market should be set before offers are made.

          Still trying to gauge where that lands. Somewhere around Carr, Tannehill, Cousins money? 3 years 80 million. 60 million guaranteed. 4 years 110 million, similar guarantee?

          Smiths current stat pace:

          4205 yards. 28.9 tds. 6.1 ints. Seattle: 10.2 wins

          I feel comfortable in saying geno hasn’t lost us any games with his play.

  54. no frickin clue

    This is amazing stuff Rob. So much to dig into. Thank you!

    One question: it seems like you’ve collected quite a bit of SPARQ data on players. Have you ever looked at whether there’s a correlation between SPARQ scores and the round in which a player gets drafted? Would be cool to see where the outliers landed and how they fared once in the league.

    • Rob Staton

      I haven’t but elite athleticism is a general trait among a high number of top players

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