After Denver’s latest loss to the Raiders, the Seahawks currently own the #5 pick in the draft along with #21, #36, #55 and #86 (in the first three rounds).
It’s great news, obviously, to have a pick that high (as things stand). With the Broncos still to play the Chiefs twice and facing a trip to Baltimore — it’s looking increasingly certain that at the very least Seattle will get a top-10 pick from Denver.
I have to say though — having #5 could be quite frustrating.
You’d be so close to securing one of the top-two defensive linemen — Jalen Carter and Will Anderson. Although both have had mixed seasons, they’re still head and shoulders above the rest of the D-liners eligible for 2023. After returning from injury, Carter has recently shown a destructive ability from the interior. Anderson’s season has been a disappointment compared to what he did a year ago — but he’d still be worth taking with a high pick.
Assuming the top-two (Houston and Carolina) go quarterback, you’d only need to be one spot further up the board to get a top D-liner. It might be a ‘so near yet so far’ type of situation.
Unless, of course, you’re inclined to take QB3 as the long term future. This should remain a consideration. Yet it’s impossible not to imagine what this team could be if they added quality talent and depth to the defense via the draft.
There could be a wildcard. Bijan Robinson — as we’ve stated a number of times — is likely to be the top-graded player on a lot of boards. He is an obscene talent, arguably better than other recent top-10 running backs (Barkley, McCaffrey etc).
It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that he goes earlier than people think. Maybe even top-five. I think he’s more likely to be a top-10 lock but we’ll see.
So what could the Seahawks do if they end up with the fifth pick and the top four go QB-QB-Carter-Anderson?
Again, QB3 is an option. I suppose Robinson would have to be too. It’s not a crucial need at all but this is a team that wants to run and Robinson is flirting with the ‘generational talent’ label. I think they’d be better off waiting until day two to add another back but let’s just mentally prepare for the possibility that they grade Bijan far higher than anyone else and opt to take the best player in the class.
What is more likely, I think, would be the Seahawks going for the next best defensive lineman. That would probably be viewed as Tyree Wilson or Myles Murphy.
There are pro’s and con’s with both.
Wilson has fantastic length (+35 inch arms) and size (275lbs) and has had some big games for Texas Tech mixed in with some performances where you’re left wondering what all the fuss is about. There’s enough internet buzz though from respected sources to believe that the league is enamoured with his potential. He just announced he needs ankle surgery and will miss the rest of the college football season (but expects to be ready for the combine).
Murphy is also well sized (275lbs) and if you look at the draft media — you’ll struggle to find any negative thoughts about him. He’s universally loved it seems. Yet on tape, as I’ve said a few times, I think he’s a pussycat against the run. He’s bigger and more athletic than most college linemen and it means he generally gets by on talent. There’s not a lot of aggression in his play. His pad level is generally poor and he doesn’t do a good enough job countering. I wonder at the next level, when his physical talent won’t shine through quite as much, whether he can do what is needed to become a top, top defensive end.
Both players are hardly prolific either. Murphy has 6.5 sacks in 11 games this season and 11 TFL’s. In 2021, he finished with seven sacks and 14 TFL’s. Wilson has seven sacks in 10 games this year (14 TFL’s) and had seven more in 2021 (13.5 TFL’s).
These numbers are no better than Calijah Kancey — a defensive tackle. He also has seven sacks in 2021 and 2022 with 13 and 14 TFL’s in the respective seasons.
When you look at PFF grades for the top D-liners this year, you can see there’s a bit of a drop-off when you get to Murphy and Wilson (who are in the ‘good’ not ‘great category):
Jalen Carter — 91.6
Calijah Kancey — 91.4
K.J. Henry — 85.1
Mike Morris — 83.7
Will Anderson — 83.6
Byron Young — 80.5
Myles Murphy — 78.4
B.J. Ojulari — 78.3
Tyree Wilson — 74.5
Bryan Bresee — 67.3
Both Wilson and Murphy would fit Seattle’s scheme as very athletic defensive ends in their new-look front — with the ability to kick into space and provide a versatile weapon. Yet neither, for me, would elevate the defense to a new level in the way Carter or Anderson potentially would. Taking either would make me want to double down with Kancey with your second or third pick — to create the kind of line that can truly cause havoc.
That said — I wasn’t a big fan of any of the top-10 offensive tackles in the draft this year. I thought Evan Neal and Ikem Ekwonu were guards and I thought Charles Cross was more of a second round-type talent. The Seahawks seemingly liked the trio a lot more than I did. Or, they simply saw the need to address a premium position with such a high pick.
They might feel similarly in 2023. They might think if they’re picking that early, just get a good D-liner. Even if it’s DL3 — just as Cross was OL3.
As it happens, none of the top rookie offensive linemen are grading that well. Ekwonu is the 66th ranked linemen according to PFF with a 66.6 grade. Cross is at #45 with a 65.3. Neal is way down at #77 with a horrible 49.8 grade. Abraham Lucas — who I did think was a first round tackle, is beating all three (#33 with a 68.1 grade).
Cross so far has been decent with room to grow and that’s more or less how I’d expect Wilson and Murphy to be when they enter the league. As such, they might be prepared to try their hand at either — just as they did with Cross.
Therefore if they did end up with #5 overall, they might settle for the best remaining D-liner. And that might be OK. I’m not sure it’ll move the needle in a positive or negative way really. But if you want an impact player, it’s worth rooting hard for whoever plays the Broncos. I do think Anderson at his best or Carter can potentially move the needle.
Despite saying last week I wasn’t getting my hopes up about a top-three or four pick, I’ve now fallen for it. I crave for the Seahawks to dominate the trenches. Both sides. And hope they’re in a position to get the best possible D-liners in this class.
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