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Seattle’s offense has talented playmakers but serious question marks remain elsewhere

Time for part two of our roster review, this time it’s the turn of the offense.

Quarterbacks

Geno Smith, Sam Howell, Chevan Cordeiro

I have some sympathy for the Seahawks and GM John Schneider. It’s very easy to point out the team needs/lacks a clear long-term plan at quarterback. It’s very difficult to actually solve the problem.

Even if you have the greatest intention to address quarterback — and I believe Schneider does — you face so many pitfalls. You need to draft high enough in round one for starters. As we saw in 2023, even having the fifth overall pick might not be early enough. Alternatively, you need to trade up. The Vikings reportedly tried to do that this year, to get up to #3 to get to the third best quarterback on the board. The Patriots said no because guess what? They needed a quarterback too.

This year teams had to contend with desperation meaning we saw half of the top-12 picks used on the position. Multiple teams reached in terms of value.

Supply isn’t close to matching demand. And it’s frustrating. That’s why, when Schneider was asked on Saturday what his long term plan is at quarterback, he said he didn’t know. It’s the truth. How can he know? It’s the same for Joe Schoen in New York with the Giants, Omar Khan with the Steelers, Tom Telesco in Las Vegas and others. How can they possibly know?

There are multiple intriguing quarterbacks in college football. In a year they might be offered millions in NIL to snub turning pro. They might suffer disappointing seasons and transfer, as many do these days. They might rise up boards like Jayden Daniels, becoming unattainable unless you’re picking in the top-two.

We bemoan quarterback purgatory, and I do too, but we have to acknowledge the challenge of breaking out of it. It’s incredibly difficult.

I don’t have an issue that in three years since the Russell Wilson trade the Seahawks haven’t been able to find a long term solution. The 2022 quarterback class was bad. I don’t think it was realistic for them to trade up to #1 in 2023 — and they likely would’ve been outbid by David Tepper whatever they offered. If they didn’t rate Will Levis enough to take him, they shouldn’t force the pick. This year, with six quarterbacks going in the top-12, it was again extremely difficult to acquire a man for the future.

The issue I have is they aren’t even taking shots later on. Schneider has repeatedly said their intention is to draft a quarterback every year — but that wears thin when the record is two selected in 15 drafts. A case in point — the Packers took a no-risk flier on Michael Pratt this year. The Seahawks, instead, drafted a tackle from Findlay. The Packers are secure with Jordan Love but follow the plan Schneider lays out to take shots. The Seahawks never do.

It was reported they liked Howell in the 2022 draft but couldn’t even bring themselves to spend a fourth rounder on him immediately after trading Wilson. That was the ideal time to take a shot like that. If they won’t do it then, when will they ever?

I wish they’d take more chances, buy more raffle tickets.

What have they got to lose?

In terms of the players on the roster, Smith remains a useful bridge. Eventually, in order to make the most of a bridge, you need to acquire the player you’re bridging to. I think Smith is a streaky player — he was at West Virginia, he has been in the pro’s and the last two years were no different. He is capable, in my view, of making Seattle competitive week-to-week. I also think he’s unlikely to lead this team to where it wants to go. I believe the Seahawks feel that way too — which is why they not so discreetly put the feelers out for a trade market a few weeks ago.

I don’t have that much faith in Howell, although I’d never write him off. Regardless of circumstances, 21 interceptions is a lot last season. He was PFF’s 33rd ranked QB, one place above Zach Wilson and one below Gardner Minshew. I also appreciate there were some good games last year, some impressive throws and the Rams were also competing to acquire him.

This, I think, is the dilemma you face as a team in Seattle’s situation. I sort of just want to start Howell. Let’s see what he can do — if he floats you might have your guy. If he sinks, well maybe you lose enough games to draft a good quarterback. With Smith, I think you’ll always be in the middle ground area. Therefore, you’re never truly motivated to move on (the ‘it could be a lot worse’ angle) but you’re unwilling to take the kind of risk that could present an opportunity — either in the form of Howell or a high pick — to get better.

I understand why. The coaches want to be as competitive as possible. The GM and ownership say the same. Therefore, Geno — the presumed better and certainly more experienced player — starts. I do have a fear that Smith will always play just well enough to make it questionable whether they should move on — producing a number of wins not conducive with picking early enough to go quarterback, while never leading the team to true contender status.

This is how you stay in the middle ground. Yet there’s no obvious way out. All they can do, I suspect, is keep on keeping on until the right opportunity emerges. It can happen, as the Ravens understand with 32nd overall pick Lamar Jackson, or the Seahawks themselves with 75th overall pick Russell Wilson. Hopefully it happens soon though, or the Seahawks are likely going to always be chasing the NFL’s elite.

Running backs

Kenneth Walker, Zach Charbonnet, Kenny McIntosh, George Holani

When they were both drafted, the idea of a Walker/Charbonnet tandem sounded exciting. Both players are extremely talented. Yet Pete Carroll and Shane Waldron couldn’t deliver a functioning ground game. Thus, the two second round picks used on the pair were a total and utter waste through 2022 and 2023.

This has to be a fresh start and there has to be a plan to get things going. A lot of that will be down to superior blocking and scheming up front. Then there has to be an actual plan to get the best out of both players. The reps last season felt haphazard and all over the place. There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason why Walker or Charbonnet were on the field at any given time.

There needs to be so much more creation, commitment and problem-solving in the running game — and frankly Ryan Grubb can’t do any worse than the previous offensive staff. When I interviewed Jack Westover recently, he noted how Grubb would tear up whole blocking schemes if he decided another plan was better for the following season. It’s that level of bold scheming, willingness to try new things and adaptability that will give Seattle’s offense a chance to shine.

It’d also be nice to see McIntosh stay healthy this year, plus Holani just screams ‘Seahawks’ with his frame and running style. He’s a quality UDFA addition.

Wide receivers

DK Metcalf, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Tyler Lockett, Jake Bobo, D’Wayne Eskridge, Laviska Shenault, Dareke Young, Cody White, Easop Winston, Hayden Hatten

Without a doubt this is the strength of the offense. I believe we’re going to see a new commitment to make Metcalf the receiver he’s always threatened to be — a league-leading threat. I’d expect Geno Smith to be challenged to exploit 1v1 opportunities more often, with far more intricate scheming to set up those opportunities. Health-permitting, I’d wager Metcalf is about to have the best season of his career.

In support, the Seahawks will likely do a far better job utilising Smith-Njigba this year. It’s quite exciting to imagine what he could be. Grubb did an excellent job featuring a true #1 at Washington while still making the most of his second, third and fourth weapons. The sky’s the limit for the talented JSN who could be set for a major breakout season.

Lockett may see a continued reduction in targets as JSN’s role grows — but he remains an invaluable cog in the offense. Expect critical touchdowns in big moments, plus key conversions. All of the excitement about the offense a year ago that was never realised, could be about to explode into life.

The Seahawks have strong depth at receiver too. It’ll be interesting to see how the new staff use Bobo. Young was highly rated after his rookie season and had an unfortunate 12 months with injury last year. Schneider admitted the old staff likely would’ve moved on from Eskridge but he wants to see what Grubb and co. can do with him. Shenault and Eskridge might be competing more for the kick-return role under the new rules — but let’s see if there are plans on offense too. Meanwhile, White, Winston and new UDFA Hatton all have something to offer so it’ll be interesting to see them in the pre-season.

Tight ends

Noah Fant, Pharaoh Brown, AJ Barner, Jack Westover, Tyler Mabry, Brady Russell

Fant has endured a lot of misfortune in his career. Drafted by a team coached by Vic Fangio, with Drew Lock at quarterback, then shipped off to Seattle to play for Waldron/Carroll. In the right offense with the right coordinator, he could be an established pass-catching threat. Instead, he’s still in prove-it mode.

He has everything you need physically to be an X-factor. It’ll be a big task for Ryan Grubb to bring out his talent and make this a career year for the 26-year-old.

Bringing in Brown as a blocker felt like a savvy move but I thought the Barner pick in round four was a reach. He has minimal athletic upside and is currently undersized to be a blocking tight end. I admire his attitude and determination and I hope to be proven wrong — but I think there were superior tight ends available in round four.

Westover’s clutch ability and versatility could get him on the roster as an UDFA. It does feel, though, like the success and failure of this group will rest on Fant finally realising his potential.

Offensive line

Charles Cross, Abe Lucas, Laken Tomlinson, Olu Oluwatimi, Christian Haynes, Anthony Bradford, George Fant, Stone Fortsyth, Michael Jerell, Max Pircher, Raiqwon O’Neal, Sataoa Laumea, Nick Harris, Garret Greenfield, McClendon Curtis, Tremayne Anchrum

The selection of Haynes in round three was a big positive. However, I don’t think the Seahawks did enough this year to seriously improve on the O-line and concerns have to remain.

Cross to me has been underwhelming. I gave him a second round grade in 2022 and thought, within that draft class, he deserved to be selected between picks 20-40. I think there’s very little evidence so far of a player capable of becoming a leading player at a vital position. I hope the new staff are able to work on some of his flaws to enable him to take a step forward in 2024.

Lucas’ knee injury is a concern. If he comes back and returns to 2022 form it’ll be a huge relief. He is Seattle’s most talented and aggressive offensive lineman and I don’t think it’s close. He was a huge loss last season.

Haynes should slot in at right guard and provide similar aggression. They could emerge as quite a pairing on the right side. I think Haynes’ upside is somewhat capped but if he can tie down the right guard spot and just provide consistent, reliable play (which is the expectation) that’ll be good enough.

Center remains a huge question mark. Can Olu Oluwatimi play? Is Nick Harris good enough if he can’t? Is 32-year-old Laken Tomlinson still capable of playing left guard at even a middling level? What if he isn’t?

Aside from that, there’s a collection of younger linemen and just a whole bunch of question marks and unknowns.

They haven’t been able to add proven veterans on the market with plug-and-play reliability. The draft picks have been more miss-than-hit aside from one player — who missed nearly all of last season with a knee injury that the former Head Coach referred to as ‘chronic’.

While the D-line has seen major repair work over the last 12 months to the point where it could end up being the identity of the team, the O-line remains a serious work in progress. You can’t help but feel it needs further investment in terms of cap space and picks. The worry has to be that while the Seahawks have dynamic weapons at receiver, tight end and running back — it could all be derailed if the offensive line continues to struggle.

If you missed my review of the defensive roster, click here.

Why Seattle’s defense has legit potential and could be close to becoming a serious threat

I know I said I was going to take a break but I also wanted to write two roster review articles (one for defense and one for offense) so here we go, starting with the defense.

Defensive linemen

Byron Murphy, Leonard Williams, Jarran Reed, Dre’Mont Jones, Johnathan Hankins, Cameron Young, Mike Morris, Matthew Gotel, Myles Adams

What a turnaround from 12 months ago. Seattle’s defensive tackle depth was non-existent going into the 2023 season, amid fears Jarran Reed would be asked to take on a massive workload and that the line wouldn’t function if he got hurt. A year on, this unit is absolutely loaded.

There’s a legit opportunity here, paired with the edge rush talent, to create the identity of the Mike Macdonald Seahawks. They have highly disruptive players in Murphy and Williams, a quality all-rounder in Reed, a classic space-eating nose tackle in Hankins, a big-ticket free agent who retains potential in Jones and young depth behind their starters.

The more players you have that can win 1v1 battles inside, the better chance you have to play great defense. The Seahawks now have two legit players who can win 1v1 and Reed is no slouch, he can chip in too. Especially if he gets to rotate more and manage his snaps. Then there’s Jones, who can also win pass rushing battles as an inside/out type.

This is a formidable looking group with real potential to control games and impact opponents. There’s also great positional versatility.

The big question is whether they keep the group together until the first game in September. The Seahawks currently only have $1.6m in cap space and they’re $1.3m in the red for effective cap space. They can pull other levers to create cap room but the biggest move they can make is to trade Dre’Mont Jones after June 1st. That would save $11.5m.

I doubt you’d get much in return — it might be a player swap or some token gesture draft compensation. You’d definitely be operating in a buyers market. Yet they have to save money somehow and this is the most logical way to do it. The depth they’ve created makes it feasible, if not probable. It might come down to whether Macdonald sees a great fit in the system or not. He didn’t typically use players like Jones in Baltimore.

Whether he stays or not, Seattle’s defensive front looks strong at a time San Francisco (Arik Armstead) and the LA Rams (Aaron Donald) have lost key players on their D-line. This is a big positive.

EDGE rushers

Uchenna Nwosu, Boye Mafe, Derick Hall, Darrell Taylor, Levi Bell, Joshua Onujiogu, Nelson Ceaser

While lacking that one genuine game-changing edge rusher, this looks like a good group. Mike Macdonald’s system really elevated the play of multiple pass rushers in Baltimore and there will be hope the same can happen here.

Importantly, the Ravens didn’t have a special rusher (Bosa, Garrett, Crosby etc) either. It was a slimmed-down Jadeveon Clowney, Kyle Van Noy and Odafe Oweh who excelled. This could be a career-changing year for Seattle’s three younger rushers. Can Mafe, who had a very decent 2023 season, become more consistently impactful? Will we see why the team gave Hall a first round grade? Can Taylor finally become the player he’s always threatened to be, without letting himself down versus the run?

The return of Nwosu will be critical too. He’s a steadying, consistent force who just gets the job done. Almost the antithesis of what Taylor has been.

It’s quite a salivating thought to imagine this edge rush group mixing with the loaded D-line to cause problems. The Seahawks, for the first time in a long time, might have a formidable pass rush. Macdonald is creative, imaginative and loves to deceive opponents. There’s so much potential to do that with the front seven personnel he possesses. This is the one unit, combined with Macdonald’s coaching (along with his staff) that gives you reason to believe we could see rapid, dynamic improvement in performance.

There are also young players in the likes of Bell, Onujiogu and Ceaser who can push Taylor — who will need to fight for his roster spot. As mentioned earlier, they need cap space. They can cut Taylor at any point and save $3.1m — there’s only $20,000 guaranteed on his contract. It’s a fantastic situation they’ve created — giving Taylor the incentive to stay and fight (he wouldn’t get $3.1m anywhere else) while keeping their options open if he doesn’t deliver. They can move on with ease.

I wonder if the Seahawks will look for opportunities to add one more ‘EDGE’ to the competition for training camp, possibly as direct competition for Taylor? Carl Lawson remains a free agent, as does Emmanuel Ogbah, Tyus Bowser and Jerry Hughes. The Ravens struck gold adding Van Noy as a late, cheap signing a year ago — maybe the Seahawks will try to emulate that?

Linebackers

Jerome Baker, Tyrel Dodson, Tyrice Knight, Jon Rhattigan, Drake Thomas, Easton Gibbs, Patrick O’Connell

I’m not as concerned about this group as some others. For a long time I’ve wanted the Seahawks to just go young and fast at this position, preferably cheap, while pumping resource into the trenches. They’ve most certainly done that this year.

Baker is a really good addition. He’s extremely solid, has offered some playmaking quality in the past and he’s still only 27-years-old. Dodson is a calculated gamble. He led PFF’s linebacker rankings in 2023 after being thrust into Buffalo’s starting line-up. We’ll soon find out whether this was the emergence of a developing talent or a bit of a flukey run.

Dodson only turns 26 in June, so both players have the potential to re-sign in Seattle if things work out and be ‘the guys’. I’d rather they go down this route, spending $10.9m of cap space on the pair in 2024, then spend bigger money on others (eg Patrick Queen).

The position overall is in a bit of a state of flux across the league. The Roquan Smith types are rare. Most teams are investing in traits, rolling with it and they aren’t investing big money or resource. I think Seattle’s plan at this position — adding two reasonable prove-it type players with a draft pick behind them — is the correct thing to do.

Ideally they would’ve added another body to the mix. I think day three had some attractive options — including Jordan Magee, JD Bertrand, Edefuan Ulofoshio, Nathaniel Watson, Michael Barrett and Tathum Bethune. Magee in particular might not have sparkled on tape but his testing profile matches the linebackers who’ve come into the league, in the mid-round range, and succeeded.

Nevertheless, I don’t think this will necessarily be a position of great strength for the Seahawks but neither do I think it’ll warrant too much stress when the season comes around. They’ll need their two key starters to stay healthy — but with the talent up front, they’ll have ample opportunity to fly around and make plays.

Cornerbacks

Devon Witherspoon, Tariq Woolen, Mike Jackson, Tre Brown, Coby Bryant, Artie Burns, Nehemiah Pritchett, DJ James, Andrew Whitaker

There are a lot of names here and I think that is quite telling. I think Tariq Woolen (please go back to Tariq) will be on a short leash. I think they were massively disappointed by his 2023 season, where he undid so much good work from 2022. Then there was the embarrassing groin-grab at the end of the Arizona game. I suspect if he doesn’t come into camp on it and ready to go, he might not be for long on this roster. This is a big few weeks for him.

Part of the reason for thinking that way is the sheer depth behind him. Mike Jackson is back, although his spot may be in jeopardy now because they can save $3.1m by cutting him. Artie Burns has stuck around in Seattle and done a good job whenever he’s been called upon. Tre Brown and Coby Bryant both face big summer’s and there’s the two Auburn rookies coming to join the competition.

A big factor in decision making is going to be how they view the roles of certain players. For example, do they put Witherspoon as a permanent nickel and ask him to be a variation of Kyle Hamilton? Or do they want to retain the flexibility to move him around? James is an ideal backup nickel if they want to go down this route — and his selection in round six is the one pick on day three where I thought they got value.

What is Bryant’s role? Safety? Corner? Nickel? If Witherspoon plays mostly inside, that creates a big opportunity for the rest of the cornerbacks to fight for starting reps on the outside.

This could be another position where the Seahawks just check in for veteran competition if they are unimpressed with some of the players on the current list. The Ravens were never shy in adding an experienced veteran. Stephon Gilmore is a free agent who enjoyed a decent season last year. Xavien Howard feels like an unlikely big name splash but he’s still out there. They have options if they want to add a name down the line. I suspect they’ll stick with what they’ve got, especially after using the two draft picks at corner.

Safety

Rayshawn Jenkins, Julian Love, K’Von Wallace, Ty Okada, Jerrick Reed, Jonathan Sutherland

It was surprising that the Seahawks didn’t draft a safety, especially given the draft offered some genuine value on day three. The current group looks thin. I really like the addition of Jenkins and appreciate the cheaper way they’ve approached things this year. I doubt Jenkins and Love will set the league on fire but neither will they be a liability.

Wallace as a potential nickel or third safety feels like a very solid move — I’ve always noticed him when he’s played for other teams. There is a distinct lack of depth though. Reed continues to rehab from injury while little is known outside the facility about Okada and Sutherland.

I do wonder whether the Seahawks deliberately avoided the position in the draft with the aim of trying to manipulate the veteran market in the coming weeks? It has tanked, frankly. There’s a long list of big name safeties without a team at the moment. We’re now getting to a situation where these players need to assess what they want to do post-draft. They’re unlikely to get better offers than they will from this point, so a decision to sign or not will likely depend on their level of interest in going through training camp.

I don’t think the Seahawks need to rush out and sign Justin Simmons, or that they need a ‘big name’ starter. However, it seems obvious at the moment that they need more. They need another signing.

Other free agents available include Eddie Jackson, Marcus Maye, Micah Hyde, Keanu Neal, Ryan Neal and Tracy Walker. Plus, of course, Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams.

I’d prefer the Seahawks not look back to the past, as they so often did in the Carroll era. I’m probably more intrigued by Simmons than I should be — given the likely contract he’ll command (even at this stage) and the fact they are already strapped for cash. There’s no doubt in my mind, though, that he’s by far the best player out there and the one who can offer the most impact. I think he can easily enjoy a late career flourish ala Tyrann Mathieu. In fact I’d go as far to say that if you can get him without any major guarantees, he could be the final piece to a defense that suddenly looks quite formidable.

Can they afford it? Probably not. Will he be in demand? Almost certainly. If the Seahawks are serious about doing something this year, though, as they claim to be — he’d be the most impactful addition they could make.

Tomorrow — I’ll look at the offense.

An early look at the 2025 draft

I’m writing this a little bit earlier this year for a reason, which I’ll explain at the end. Here are my early thoughts on what the 2025 draft looks like a year out.

It’s not as bad at quarterback as people are saying

What the class doesn’t have is a physical phenom right at the top, or a cluster of big names we’ve been waiting to become draft eligible. There are, however, some very interesting players to study over the summer.

I would highly recommend checking out Max Brosmer, who recently transferred from New Hampshire to Minnesota. He caught the eye studying Dylan Laube for this draft class and he has an eye-catching skill-set. His release is quick and compact and he has an easy flick of the wrist to generate velocity downfield. He’s very good at looking off defenders to throw into layered areas. His accuracy on medium-to-long range throws is good and he’s a decent athlete. Clearly we need to see him take on superior opponents in the BIG-10 next year but Brosmer is extremely interesting and someone who could generate a growing buzz.

Riley Leonard showed a lot of positive traits at Duke, including the ability to drag his team into competitive games. He had a knack of making big conversions to extend drives and he played a vital role in a win against Clemson and a near-win against Notre Dame. He has great size, athleticism, a decent arm and he’s very competitive. He can make plays as a thrower and runner. As a passer he requires more polish and he needs to improve his consistency and accuracy. At Notre Dame, he should have the kind of supporting cast to take the next step.

Quinn Ewers is going to experience a very interesting next 12 months. I like Ewers and think he deserves more positive attention. His release is beautiful and quick, he has a rare ability to produce loft, velocity and accuracy on deep throws. I really like some of the layered, technical throws he’s shown in big moments (see: Alabama road win). I watched his performance vs Washington twice and in isolation, he played very well. He has too many mental errors that still produce turnovers — but his natural talent is clear for all to see. The problem he has is momentum is already trending towards Arch Manning online and you wonder what’ll happen if he doesn’t come flying out of the traps. He’s lost two good receivers and Texas’ defense has lost some other key parts. I think he’s the kind of player John Schneider will be fond of and he’s one to keep an eye on this year.

There are others to mention too. Shedeur Sanders will be near the top of many early mock drafts and he is remarkably talented. I’m just not sure whether Colorado are good enough to enable him to stay healthy and deliver on his potential in college football. Plus, his dad seems determined to be a headache as he approaches the league. Carson Beck lacks some of the big, eye-catching physical tools but his play really came on last year and he’ll have a chance to elevate his stock further in 2024. Missouri’s Brady Cook is flying under the radar and while he too lacks the big, physical tools — he does everything well and has shown to be a playmaker. He also has the benefit of throwing to college football’s top receiver in Luther Burden.

Some big names transferred to try and improve their stock, including Tyler Van Dyke swapping Miami and Mario Cristobal for Wisconsin and Luke Fickell. It’s a great switch and could salvage his career. Will Howard has gone to Ohio State from Kansas State and with the Buckeye’s bringing back so many players from last year — he could have a big season. Cam Ward has gone to Miami, Will Rogers to Washington, Grayson McCall to NC State, DJ Uiagalelei to Florida State and KJ Jefferson to UCF.

In terms of underclassmen, I can’t say I was ever that excited watching Penn State’s Drew Allar in 2023 but he has great size, is a former five-star recruit and hopefully the offense he plays in won’t hold him back. It helps they were able to poach talented receiver Julian Fleming from Ohio State. Jalen Milroe has a chance to work with Kalen DeBoer at Alabama and that could do wonders for his stock.

There are always players who emerge, too.

There’s nearly always a reason why runs on quarterbacks happen. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we saw six taken in the top-12 in the 2024 draft — I do think it reflects on how teams view the future. Just as I think teams looked at the poor standard of the 2022 group and decided to wait, knowing better players were coming. The 2025 quarterback class will not generate much excitement this summer — but there’s a bit more to it than the media are suggesting.

Several other big names are returning to college

It’ll be a relief when the bonus Covid years are no longer a thing and we know exactly how long players will be able to stay in college. A whole bunch of prospects who were expected to be in the 2024 draft returned to school.

TreyVeyon Henderson, Tyleik Williams, J.T. Tuimoloau, Jack Sawyer, Denzel Burke, Emeka Edbuka and Donovan Jackson all announced they’re staying at Ohio State, presumably with the ambition of finally beating Michigan. There’s some decent NFL talent here, even if it doesn’t translate into future first round picks.

Wisconsin tackle Jack Nelson, Notre Dame defensive tackles Howard Cross and Rylie Mills, West Virginia defensive lineman Sean Martin, Arkansas pass rusher Landon Jackson, Miami receiver Xavier Restrepo, Tennessee receiver Bru McCoy, UCF receiver Kobe Hudson, Oregon receiver Tez Johnson, Kansas State running back DJ Giddens, Texas defensive tackle Alfred Collins, Louisville defensive lineman Ashton Gillotte, Cincinnati defensive lineman Dontay Corleone, North Carolina defensive end Kaimon Rucker, NC State defensive end Davin Vann, Georgia linebacker Smael Mondon, Clemson linebacker Barrett Carter, Utah tight end Brant Kuithe, Penn State tight end Tyler Warren and Iowa tight end Luke Lachey are also returning to their schools.

Meanwhile, receivers Josh Kelly (Texas Tech) and Julian Fleming (Penn State) have transferred, as has cornerback Trikweze Bridges (Florida) and running back Raheim Sanders (South Carolina). Texas Tech pass rusher Steve Linton has chosen to transfer to Baylor.

Who are the big name underclassmen?

Travis Hunter at Colorado is well regarded and it’ll be interesting to see if he sticks more at receiver or cornerback rather than rotating. Big things are expected of LSU pass rusher Harold Perkins so we’ll see if he can have a breakout year. Luther Burden, the Missouri receiver, is immensely talented and could propel himself into a lofty draft grade. Benjamin Morrison, the cornerback at Notre Dame, has nine interceptions in two seasons and has a shed load of potential. Former five-star tackle Will Campbell at LSU has a chance to put himself into range to be a high pick next year.

There’s no getting away from the fact, though, that there’s a relatively small list of exciting underclassmen. Players will need to emerge and develop. I’m already seeing in ‘way too early’ 2025 mocks some of the names listed above who are returning to school mocked in round one, when in reality they are mid-round players at best. That’s because there isn’t a long list of ‘wow’ underclassmen to review at this stage.

So that’s my early review for 2025. I hope you enjoyed the coverage of the 2024 draft we provided. I have to say, the last week has been a nightmare. My wife has been in and out of hospital with pneumonia, going back in on Saturday (but thankfully home again now). I’ve had the same illness, thankfully minus the pneumonia. Still, we got through the last few days somehow. But there’s just something so utterly disheartening and frustrating about this fan base at times.

In the last 24 hours I’ve been accused of everything from arrogance (you think you know everything), to being mentally ill, to being overly tired — all for the crime of saying I found Seattle’s day three picks underwhelming. That’s an opinion built off 12 months of study and research. I’ve explained why I found it underwhelming, which is hardly a damning criticism or a write-off of the players selected.

There’s no point doing the work if all some of you want is reassurance, copium and positivity. I just grade the players and then assess the picks when they’re made. I thought the first two selections were very good and all but the DJ James pick on day three provided poor value. To me that seems a fair review.

I think I’m taking a break for a few days. I’m doing the final HawkBlogger roundtable today. Then it’s time for some rest and to focus on my family and full-time job, not my hobby.

I have some broader thoughts to share on the Seahawks franchise, where they’re at and where they’re going. At the moment I think there’s little point in sharing them. One for down the line.

If you did enjoy the draft coverage this year and want to support SDB via Patreon, click here.

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