Over the last two years, the Seahawks have made a big point of not reaching for need. They went into the draft with most areas addressed in some form or another. That gave them the freedom to pick for talent, not position.

This is how they ended up drafting a cornerback and a receiver in the top-20 last year. Neither was a striking need but they were able to stick to their board and select the best available players. In the past, such as the 2019 class, we’ve seen what happens when they force needs.

They’ve also doubled down on character, learning from past mistakes where they took risks. ‘Without compromise’ is a term that has been throw around and it rings true. Every player the Seahawks have taken has been of quality individual character with no flags.

I think what we’re seeing at the moment is an attempt to re-create that same environment for the 2024 draft. They are trying to address their needs and fill holes. Jerome Baker is making a visit to Seattle today and could sign, while Brady Henderson says they’re interested in classic nose tackle Johnathan Hankins. K’Von Wallace visited the team earlier this week too.

These three players would fill remaining needs at linebacker, defensive tackle and safety. It’d only leave one glaring void at left guard. It’s hard to know what the Seahawks could do there, especially after John Schneider’s slightly pointed remarks about the overrated cost of the position both in terms of salary and draft range. Guard aside, you can see the team positioning itself for a ‘best player available’ draft again.

I still think the Sam Howell trade is difficult to look at on paper, given it now leaves the Seahawks with only one day two pick. It’s hard to square the circle that they believe they have to make moves like this, in part because they’ve been so reluctant to draft someone like Howell when they’ve had the chance in day three, to produce the kind of salary value they now crave.

Before I get into the mock, some thoughts on the quarterback situation overall. When listening to John Schneider yesterday I thought he sounded a little irked. I wasn’t the only one, as it happens. You don’t have to agree with what I’m about to say but this is how I’m connecting the dots.

I think there’s a reason why, for the first time yesterday, Schneider declared Geno Smith ‘the guy’. He had ample opportunity to do that before yesterday but answered in a very different way. I believe this is because it’s true today but wasn’t necessarily true two months ago.

I think Schneider was open to trading Smith but discovered there wasn’t a market. I think he talked up Drew Lock so much, as did Mike Macdonald and Ryan Grubb, because they knew there was a possibility Smith could depart and they needed a starter. Once it became apparent Smith couldn’t be moved, they re-worked his deal to save money in 2024. At that point, it became likely that Lock would seek a fresh start with a new team where he had a better chance to win a job. The Seahawks settled in with Smith as the starter for this year — thus Jordan Schultz reported the quarterback had been informed he would be with the team this season.

I also think the Seahawks were very minded to draft a quarterback early, potentially trading up to do so. There are enough people reporting or speculating within the national media to believe a ‘top-four’ consensus has emerged — Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye and J.J. McCarthy. It’s possible the Seahawks align with the view that the quartet are a clear top-four.

With Lock departing, they needed a replacement backup anyway and that could be the sole motivation for the Howell trade. Did they also know, perhaps 24-48 hours ago, that the Vikings were working the phones to try and acquire another first round pick, thus increasing their chances of trading up from #11 for a quarterback? It’s hard to believe they only approached the Texans and a deal was done. They likely pitched to multiple teams between #12-32 about moving up from #42. Thus, it was likely the talk of the league.

If it’s believed the top-three quarterbacks will go #1-3 and now the Vikings will trade up for QB3/4 having acquired the stock to pull it off, it’s possible the Seahawks found themselves in a situation where any viable shot at the consensus top-four quarterbacks was gone.

Therefore, they made the Howell move to get a young quarterback so that they didn’t come out of the off-season empty handed. Now, at least they have a cost-effective young signal caller who — as Schneider pointed out — is the same age or younger than many of the big-name quarterbacks in the draft.

The downside is, if this theory carries any water, that it might mean they’re resigned to not drafting a quarterback again. Or it could simply mean the market for Michael Penix Jr is so unpredictable, they want to be fully prepared. That would fit in with the ‘not forcing anything’ approach. But I do think it’s possible the Howell trade indicates a growing expectation that they might not draft a QB.

Onto the seven round Seahawks mock…

First round — #16 — Trade down

It feels increasingly inevitable that they move down for two reasons. Firstly, this draft is too good in day two to think they manipulated a way to turn three day-two picks into one. They have to be planning to get more stock in this range, surely?

Secondly, I think a lot of their key targets at #16 will be off the board. I think they’d love to get Taliese Fuaga or Troy Fautanu but if I were doing a full first round projection today, I’d have them at #9 and #10 respectively. I also think JC Latham will be gone and Jared Verse will be too. Chop Robinson is the blue-chipper most likely to last, I think, but there’s no saying whether they would stick and pick for another edge rusher.

I have the Seahawks trading down to #25 in a deal with the Packers. Green Bay needs a left tackle, so they move up. They’ve got two second round picks so they give the Seahawks #58 to jump up and select Olu Fashanu at #16 — a player I think will last longer than many mock drafts are projecting.

First round — #25 — Trade down

The Seahawks trade down for a second time as they continue to stock-pile picks. Here’s the thing — once you trade out of the top-20, you trade out of the value range in round one. That’s why I’m not a huge fan of them trading away their second rounder and one of their third round picks. Now, they feel under greater pressure to trade out of #16. Once you get to about pick #22, the value drops. It’s why I think Houston were so comfortable going from #23 to #42 in their trade with the Vikings, for nothing more than a 2025 second round pick. The value between pick #23 and #42 is minimal. So the Seahawks might as well see if they can move down again if they trade off #16.

I have them making a deal with the Panthers. Carolina traded away Brian Burns and they need a replacement. I have them trading the pick they got from the Giants — #39 — to the Seahawks for #25 so they can select Laiatu Latu. In return, the Seahawks get #65 and they send pick #118 to the Panthers.

This means the Seahawks swapped #16 and #118 for #39, #58 and #65.

Second round — #39 — Cooper Beebe (G, Kansas State)

I’m less confident projecting this today after hearing Schneider speak about the guard position — but Beebe just feels like a great fit. Firstly, he’s very athletic for a guard — running a 5.03 at 322lbs. I sense Scott Huff and Ryan Grubb are looking for a degree of athleticism up front. I think they also want extremely physical, punishing blockers. That’s Beebe. He loves to get out in space and run people over.

He also has a flawless character background and he’s experienced. Schneider mentioned recently how much he likes to see players play in their Bowl games and not sit out. Beebe participated in the Pop Tarts Bowl, despite knowing he was turning pro.

Athleticism, performance, playing style and character — Beebe ticks every box. He could slot in at left guard on day one and currently, that would fill a big need. He’s a sure-fire top-45 talent so this wouldn’t be a reach. It would further help establish the kind of team they want to be up front.

Second round — #58 — Javon Bullard (S, Georgia)

I want to continue along the theme of not drafting for need. After signing one safety (and potentially adding a second) in free agency — this isn’t a desperate need this early. However, Bullard is a legit top-60 talent in the draft and you can’t help but love the way he plays the game. He is a tone-setting, heat-seeking missile of a safety who strikes fear into opponents — yet also has enough range to play well in coverage.

He’s versatile and can play in a number of different roles. I think his best spot could be ‘big nickel’ where he can play downfield — but if you wanted to confuse opponents he could easily drop. He has the quickness and field IQ to deceive.

In terms of character, there are again zero flags. Like Beebe, Bullard played in his Bowl game — the Capital One Bowl against Florida State. To me he’s a throwback to what the Seahawks used to be — tough, physical and fast. I like his fit based on what we’ve been told about Baltimore’s defense and think he could become a real asset in the secondary and a possible long-term fixture.

Third round — #65 — Ruke Orhorhoro (DT, Clemson)

When studying tape, I just kept thinking how much Orhorhoro reminded me of Justin Madubuike. Back in 2020, Madubuike was a blog favourite. His upside potential was obvious and Mike Macdonald helped bring out the best in him towards the end of his rookie contract. The comparisons are obvious in terms of playing style and physical traits.

For example, Orhorhoro ran a 4.89 forty and a 1.67 10-yard split at 294lbs. Madubuike ran a 4.83 with a 1.73 10-yard split at 293lbs. Orhorhoro has 34 inch arms, Madubuike has 33.5 inch arms. They ran a 7.37 and a 7.40 three-cone respectively. The one big difference is there were some slight character questions on Madubuike and Orhorhoro has no such problems entering the league.

I’m not convinced Dre’Mont Jones is a fit for the scheme Macdonald will run. Curtis Allen has projected the Seahawks have about $9m to spend in free agency currently. With work still to be done, they need nearly all of that. However, they still need to find a saving down the line to be able to sign their draft class and provide funds for injured reserve, a practise squad and have a little to play with if needed.

I wonder if they could draft Orhorhoro to be their version of Madubuike, then after June 1st they could trade Jones to create $11.5m in cap space. Trading Jones before June 1st only saves $4.8m — so there’s incentive to wait. They could theoretically just move him for a throwaway future pick in training camp or a player swap to create the extra cap space. Adding Orhorhoro not only gives them a player who’s a better fit and has extremely appealing physical and character traits — it could pave the way for Jones moving on in the future.

Third round — #81 — Trente Jones (G/T, Michigan)

Jones had limited starts at Michigan (13) but did enough in those appearances to think he has a far more exciting NFL future than his experience suggests. I thought he was impressive on tape, he’s capable of providing positional flexibility at guard or tackle, he’s a good (not great) athlete and plays with great base and power. I thought he excelled at the combine during on-field drills and constantly stood out with team mate Trevor Keegan.

I think in this range, he’s worth a shot. There are others we could discuss such as Beaux Limmer (who can play guard or center), Mason McCormick (a small-school prospect who tested through the roof and is extremely physical on tape) or Caedan Wallace (a vastly underrated right tackle). I like Jones for this projection though just because he can provide quality depth and competition, his best football could be ahead of him, he has a likeable personality and tapping into the Michigan O-line is no bad thing.

Fourth round — #102 — Fabien Lovett (DT, Florida State)

I really liked watching Lovett on tape and I think in this kind of range he has a chance to be a steal. He’s not a classic nose tackle at 6-4 and 314lbs but his vines for arms (35.5 inches) keep his frame clean and once he plants the anchor in the ground, you can’t move him. He’ll eat up double-teams, he’ll give you a great shift up front in the key early downs and he’ll help repair Seattle’s broken run defense. He also has 10.5 inch hands that act as great big clamps.

The potential signing of Jonathan Hankins doesn’t prevent the Seahawks from adding competition at nose. Lovett will never be a disruptive force creating pressure and blowing up interior lines. However — his toughness and ability to become a big Oak tree in the interior carries early day three value.

Plus — once again — he is considered an elite character player with ‘heart and soul of the locker room’ potential.

Sixth round — #179 — Tyrice Knight (LB, UTEP)

He’s one of Seattle’s ‘official 30’ visits and frankly, he could easily go earlier than this. He plays the run well, he’s well sized, he packs a punch as a tackler and although there’s some evidence of inconsistent discipline monitoring gaps — he generally moves well across the line and delivers the key tackle. There’s definitely a player to work with here and he could provide depth and competition at linebacker.

Sixth round — #192 — Dominique Hampton (S, Washington)

Part of me wonders if I’m being too generous imagining Hampton is still on the board in round six after his great combine. However, he was generally flying under the radar before then and it’s possible only teams with intimate knowledge of his value at Washington will understand how good he can be.

I’m told Hampton was asked to play a complex role in the Huskies defense that required discipline and high football IQ. He executed at a high level and was extremely well liked in the locker room. To me, he feels like the kind of player who would fit in Mike Macdonald’s defense and if nothing else — he could provide core special teams value.

Take him here, stash him on special teams as a rookie and see if he can develop into something more over time.

Seventh round — #235 — Emani Bailey (RB, TCU)

The Seahawks have often taken running backs in the sixth or seventh round to compete for backup and special teamer jobs. Bailey had an exceptional Senior Bowl — flashing quality as a runner and a catcher. His third-down value could immediately replace Deejay Dallas and he would provide excellent competition for Kenny McIntosh.

Full draft

#39 Cooper Beebe (G, Kansas State)
#58 Javon Bullard (S, Georgia)
#65 Ruke Orhorhoro (DT, Clemson)
#81 Trente Jones (T/G, Michigan)
#102 Fabien Lovett (DT, Florida State)
#179 Tyrice Knight (LB, UTEP)
#192 Dominique Hampton (S, Washington)
#235 Emani Bailey (RB, TCU)

Final thoughts

This is one projection so don’t get too worked up. I’ll do others where the Seahawks can potentially still add a quarterback. There are other players I’d also like to pair with the Seahawks in the future — including my recent interviewees Malik Mustapha, Jaylen Harrell, Mekhi Wingo and Brennan Jackson.

This is a very ‘trench heavy’ draft but I don’t think that’s too unrealistic at the start of this new era. I think all of the players tick the necessary character boxes, their playing styles and schematic fits seem to be on point and you could lay the foundations for a tougher, more rounded and balanced football team.

What you’re lacking is that bit of star quality at the top. Imagine this class with #16 thrown in — and that pick being, for example, Chop Robinson. This is the bed the Seahawks have made for themselves, though. They’re either going to need to move around the board, add picks and potentially end up with a class like this — or they’re going to have to live with having very little in the meat of the draft (day two) but coming away with someone who could be more of a X-factor player at #16. It’ll be interesting to see what they decide.