This was a slightly different scouting week, with two big name quarterbacks not featuring.
Will Levis has been sacked 18 times in five games and finally, the beating caught up to him. He missed Kentucky’s game against South Carolina. It probably boosted his stock because without him, the Wildcats fell to a horrible home loss to struggling South Carolina.
Bryce Young was always likely to miss time after leaving Alabama’s game against Arkansas with a limp arm. He didn’t play against Texas A&M and ‘Bama were fortunate to escape with a win.
It gave me a chance to focus on other players, specifically non-quarterbacks, over the last 48 hours. I have an article coming this week breaking down a collection of prospects who’ve caught my eye — along with my usual QB notes.
But I’ll stress again — I am really struggling to find legit top-15 players for the 2023 draft.
I suspect two quarterbacks — Will Levis and C.J. Stroud — will go very early. It’s possible Bryce Young goes very early too although that will depend on how teams view his size and thus, his durability. Anthony Richardson’s ridiculous upside could also mean he is a high first round pick, despite his mixed 2022 season so far.
Will Anderson is not a Myles Garrett or Nick Bosa level player but he is the best bet at acquiring a defensive playmaker. He will go early.
I think many teams will have Texas running back Bijan Robinson as possibly the highest graded player on their board although his position will have a say in how high he goes. In a weak top-end, he could easily go in the top-10. I wouldn’t be shocked if Alabama’s Jahmyr Gibbs is also rated very highly.
Michael Mayer, the tight end from Notre Dame, could also go very early if he tests well at the combine. His change of direction skills at his size are freakish and he’s been a highly consistent, productive weapon for the Irish.
Bryan Bresee missed his second game at the weekend with a kidney infection, having also missed time due to the sad passing of his younger sister. Unfortunately, having missed most of last season with an ACL, it’s hard to project him given how little he’s playing. I know he’ll test very well at the combine so there’s an upside projection that could get him into the top-15.
Jalen Carter is also injured and missed Georgia’s latest win. It’s unclear when he’ll return with Kirby Smart being quite vague at his press conference today. I am not convinced he’s the top-10 pick many project and without a fantastic combine, is more likely to be graded in the later first round.
There’s a dearth of draft-eligible game-wrecking defensive linemen. I am yet to see a single linebacker worthy of a first round projection. The safety position is weak at the top end. There are cornerbacks who can emerge but it’s tricky to project them on tape because teams are avoiding them (and still moving the ball).
That’s not to say good players and rough diamonds aren’t there. Clemson pass rusher K.J. Henry, for example, could end up being a day-two steal. His upside and potential is top-notch — but it’s taken him years to make it happen at Clemson and despite his improved play he has one sack in six games.
I like the depth later in the draft and I think good players can and will be found. At the top of round one, however, it’s a mess. It’s virtually impossible to find players worthy of a legit first round grade.
Currently, the Seahawks would gain the 10th and 11th picks in the draft. There’s a long way to go in the season — but if it finishes that way or something similar (and I suspect it might) I think the best thing to do would be to trade up.
Carolina have to be the red-hot favourites to get the #1 pick now that Matt Rhule has been fired and they are embracing a tank. They’ll likely start to sell-off assets.
Seattle needs someone like Pittsburgh or Las Vegas to keep losing so they can get into range for a trade. This is shaping up to be the worst top-15 in many years. Moving up to get a quarterback or Anderson is the smart move. Currently, anyone watching a lot of college football can say with a high degree of confidence you will not be able to find two players at #10 or #11 that can elevate Seattle’s struggling defense.
Furthermore — and people keep forgetting this — Geno Smith is a free agent in 2023. There’s no guarantee he’ll be back. And if he keeps playing the way he is currently, he’s going to be extremely expensive.
Right now the Seahawks only have $32m in effective cap space for next year because of decisions such as committing $36m in cap hits to Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams. We shouldn’t assume Smith will be easy to retain, or that a young, cheap quarterback is no longer a need. Or, for that matter, that the defensive players exist in this draft that can change the fortunes of a unit that has started each of the last four years badly, has gone through different coordinators and coaches, tweaks and changes and cannot find a formula that works.
I suspect a trendy viewpoint among fans will be to go defense with their two first round picks and then wait on the quarterback until round two or even three. I cannot stress enough — unless you can get to Will Anderson, I’m not sure any defensive player is going to tilt the balance of this unit from shambles to acceptable. Even he is unlikely to have a Bosa/Garrett/Parsons level impact.
And as I continue to absorb 6-8 college football games a week — including tape of all of the big name QB’s — I cannot say with confidence there is a quarterback worth taking beyond the top group. Perhaps UCLA’s vastly underrated Dorian Thompson-Robinson could be the exception (and if you’re drafting him, make sure you grab Zach Charbonnet and Jake Bobo while you’re there).
That is why I’m so eager to see defensive improvement. This team cannot create excitement and faith in the future without the defensive unit performing better. They don’t have to be elite. Pete Carroll wants complementary football. So complement your offense — which is performing way beyond realistic pre-season expectations. Become average rather than abysmal on defense and you’ll win plenty of football games with the offensive production you’re currently churning out.
Create an environment where scoring 103 points in three games gets you a winning, not a losing, record.
We need to feel good about players like Darrell Taylor, Jordyn Brooks, Poona Ford and Quandre Diggs — not wondering aloud how we replace them, in a scheme none of us can say is actually any good or suited to your key players.
The top of the 2023 draft class isn’t going to be a knight in shining armour for the Seahawks defensively. The players already on the roster need to be better. The answers are going to need to come creatively — via wise trades, solid drafting and good moves in free agency. They need to put their players in a position to succeed. I’m not sure this scheme suits them at all. The evidence certainly suggests it doesn’t.
We need to see defensive green shoots on the field in the coming weeks.
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