1. It’s not just a limited quarterback draft
Opinions on the 2022 class are all over the place.
I’m not for a second trying to suggest that I know everything or am better than other people when it comes to analysing the draft. I’m well aware I’m just a bloke from Rotherham who watches a lot of college football.
However, I think some of the analysis we’re seeing on the internet is, frankly, quite poor this year.
I don’t envy the people who have to write about the draft for a living. They are in an awful position. It’s really, really hard to find legit first round prospects who are eligible. As a consequence we’re seeing a lot of undeserved elevation and a lot of reaching.
I won’t name names but let me use one example. Today I looked at a 2022 NFL mock draft from a national website. Included in the top-15 were:
I have not seen any evidence that these players warrant a placing in this range. That is particularly the case for the three quarterbacks, Ikem Ekonwu and Kenyon Green. The one who might justify it is Evan Neal but he has a guard body, appears much more suited to operating inside and I’m not convinced he’s a left tackle at the next level.
It’s just a lousy draft class at the top end. People are trying to slot prospects into their mocks. The class is going to be influenced more than ever by combine testing, with teams taking their chances on upside because the legit, blue-chip talent pool is limited.
Take Auburn cornerback Roger McCreary for example. He’s a good football player. Yet he has sub-30 inch arms and he has good and bad moments on tape (see: John Metchie shaking him off for the game-winning score at the weekend).
On Saturday, one well-known draft pundit declared on Twitter that he was a ‘top-20 lock’, only to be informed by a former NFL scout (who may or may not be Mobile based these days) that he hadn’t spoken to any team that had anything higher than a second-round grade on McCreary.
Everyone is desperate to find ‘guys’ in a 2022 draft class that has depth beyond round one but has massive question marks for the first frame.
I’ve studied this class in detail and for me, these are the following players you can build an argument for at the top of round one:
Kayvon Thibodeaux (DE)
Aidan Hutchinson (DE)
Derek Stingley (CB)
Kyle Hamilton (S)
At the moment, that’s it. There are other players I really like, such as Georgia’s Jordan Davis. Can you justify taking a two-down nose with, say, the fifth overall pick?
Someone suggested to me yesterday that it’s a good draft for defensive linemen, as part of an argument ‘for’ trading Russell Wilson. Again, this isn’t exactly the case. The mock drafts might be stacked with names but I don’t think these mocks are a true reflection of the class.
As I wrote on Sunday — I think if you’re picking outside of the top-two, you’re probably not getting Thibodeaux and Hutchinson. They are the two potential game-wrecking defensive linemen in this class. I don’t see anyone else who can knock them out of the top two.
The best tackle prospects I’ve seen so far are Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning, Central Michigan’s Bernhard Raimann and Washington State’s Abraham Lucas. I’d be fully prepared to grade all three in the top-50. Could I make a legit argument for saying they belong in the top-10? Maybe if they test well. Right now, I can’t say it with any conviction.
So let’s imagine a scenario where the Seahawks trade Wilson to the Giants for their two top-10 picks. Are you getting a game-wrecking D-lineman or a left tackle of the future at #6 or #7? I don’t think you are. You need those picks to be higher — or in a different draft entirely.
This is why I think a full knowledge of what this draft class truly offers is imperative to have a proper discussion about the future of this team.
If you could guarantee Hutchinson and a top left tackle — I think it’s a conversation worth having. Or even Hutchinson and Thibodeaux. The Seahawks desperately need to improve their trenches. If sacrificing Wilson enables them to do that — I don’t think it’s a conversation to be dismissed, even if it’s not my personal preference.
I don’t think people realise how early Thibodeaux and Hutchinson are going to go. They’re the top-two. And the next group of George Karlaftis, Jermaine Johnson and David Ojabo might have intriguing skills — but they are not top-10 picks.
If you trade away Wilson, you have to come away with blue-chip players. At the very least you have to emulate the double-dip of Russell Okung and Earl Thomas. As someone who has studied this draft class more than most — I’m telling you, this is going to be the weakest first round in a long, long time. And if you want those blue-chip players, you better find your way into the top two or three picks.
The irony is — Seattle’s own pick might’ve got them into that range. Yet they traded it to the Jets for Jamal Adams.
2. The truth about the 2022 quarterback class
The discourse around the draft eligible QB’s is similarly all over the place. I have studied all of the big names in great detail. I appreciate teams are going to reach and there’s a chance more than one player will go in round one. However, I want to re-iterate what I believe to be the truth about this class…
— No player deserves a first round grade.
— Carson Strong is the clear #1 quarterback within the group. However, there are very serious concerns about the health of one of his knees. So much so, it has been speculated he might need a cadaver knee replacement that would end his rookie season before it begins. One other theory is that it might be a bone-on-bone situation, limiting his career. He could of course be perfectly fine. This is the talk doing the rounds though and teams will study his medicals thoroughly. He has fantastic arm talent, he’s accurate and has a quick release but he’s also a statue in the pocket and has no ability to move to extend plays or avoid pressure.
— Kenny Pickett is the clear #2 quarterback. However, he reportedly has incredibly small hands. The talk is that his hand size could be nearer to eight inches than nine — and nine is usually the cut-off for NFL quarterbacks. This is probably why he plays in gloves. So while his 2022 season has been a roaring success — teams will have to contend with what this means for his next level potential.
— Matt Corrall plays in a Lane Kiffin offense that does the heavy lifting. It’s a system that demands very little other than one-read from the quarterback. Corrall is also 6-0 and 200lbs. I cannot project him to the next level.
— Sam Howell is extremely average and Malik Willis isn’t very good.
If three of these players go in round one, all power to the teams making the call. I can’t get behind that thought process.
Short of Strong getting a clean bill of health on the knee, I would rather wait until the mid-rounds for Desmond Ridder. Frankly, Ridder has as much chance as any of the names above. He has completed some ‘wow’ passes this year and elevated Cincinnati onto the national stage. He is far from perfect but the consensus seems to be he will be available much later than the names above.
Any of these players will likely need a year to learn the ropes, meaning you’re relying on a stop-gap veteran.
It’s a shame we have to have these conversations — yet increasingly it feels like QB talk is going to be a thing again within Seahawks fandom.
I think the person running your offense has never been more important. I think we’re seeing that with the jumbled mess that has become the Carroll/Waldron hybrid. We’re also seeing it in the way certain QB’s are being developed.
If this team wanted Carson Strong, for example, they have to go and get the offensive play-caller and schemer to fit his skill-set. That would be Josh McDaniels for me.
Kenny Pickett is more suited to a play caller who is willing to use quarterback mobility, movement in the pocket and bootlegs/play-action.
Matt Corrall likely needs a system that gets the ball out of his hands quickly and utilises extreme spread-concepts.
Increasingly I agree with Colin Cowherd on the subject of coaching. You can have a defensive-minded Head Coach but you need a top play-caller on offense to make it work. One of Pete Carroll’s big issues is his desire to have full control and his unwillingness to go out and land a star play-caller who gets the keys to the offense.
One of Bill Belichick’s greatest strengths is the fact he has McDaniels next to him — running a very effective offense that fits the personnel they have. Nick Saban has gone the same way in Alabama.
I really wish Carroll would’ve embraced this a few years ago.
3. The middle rounds will contain great value
Carroll has done a terrible job building the roster to suit his preferred style. Seattle’s O-line isn’t good enough. Their running back situation isn’t good enough.
If you want to play ‘your’ style — you need to be better there. And that’s as much a failure as anything else when we discuss the Seahawks’ reset from 2018 onwards.
It’s incredible to think the Seahawks passed on all of the top current NFL runners — from Jonathan Taylor to Dalvin Cook to Derrick Henry to Nick Chubb to Alvin Kamara to Joe Mixon and Antonio Gibson. And the one time they chanced their arm with a high pick — they rolled the dice on Rashaad Penny.
We’ve discussed some of the O-line and D-line options. The Seahawks also need to be better at running back. I think there are options in this class.
For me, UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet is RB1. He runs hard and fights through contact. He’s a competent pass-catcher. He blocks better than most in pass-pro. He’s also well-sized and looks explosive.
I would project Charbonnet to be a third rounder and he is someone to target.
The rest of my top-five would be Kenneth Walker at #2, Brian Robinson at #3, Dameon Pierce at #4 and Breece Hall at #5.
The Seahawks need to revamp the position. Pairing Charbonnet with Pierce would be a good way to do it. Florida has squandered Pierce’s career but he’s explosive, will make you miss in the open field and he’s tough. He will be available on day three, I would imagine, and would be a great complement to someone like Charbonnet.
It’s such a good tight end class I think you have to tap into it somewhere. Jalen Wydermyer and Trey McBride will likely go too early but if they fell into round two, warrant BPA consideration depending on how they test (agility testing is a huge indicator at the position). Greg Dulcich and Derrick Deese Jr are the two players I would recommend if you want a pass-catcher. Jeremy Ruckert and Jake Ferguson both have rounded games and are good blockers.
There are other holes that are set to emerge. There is no justification for paying Bobby Wagner $20m next year (however much the MNF crew want to fawn over him). Cornerback will continue to be an issue if Tre Brown is out an extended period of time, especially with D.J. Reed reaching free agency.
Regardless of what happens with Wilson, it might be time to decide whether the Seahawks are better getting a haul for D.K. Metcalf rather than paying him $20m or above in a big extension.
Thankfully — this draft will provide value in the middle rounds.
Yet it’s incredible, really, that this franchise is facing one of the biggest, ugliest rebuilds imaginable. It’s taken horrible mismanagement of the roster to reach this point. There could be years of pain ahead if they make the wrong decisions in January through to May.
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