Let me be clear — this list is based on historical trends in terms of physical traits and playing style. You could add all sorts of names and make a case. In this deep draft you could probably write 50 names down.
I wanted this to be a shorter, defined group. The ones who clearly ‘fit’ physically, fit the philosophy and play positions they’ve typically drafted.
For example, you could plausibly say Sauce Gardner’s size and length or Derek Stingley Jr’s lofty recruiting rating match Seattle and Pete Carroll’s desires. However — the simple fact is they haven’t invested in the cornerback position early. In fact, they’ve spent very little draft stock on cornerbacks over the years.
There are also players who fit in a lot of areas but not in the complete profile. Boye Mafe, for example, has shorter than ideal arm length. So does Devante Wyatt. George Karlaftis doesn’t have the frame of previous Seahawks’ picks at defensive end. Michael Clemons flashes in the same way Darrell Taylor did — but he lacks the testing profile to rubber stamp completely. Abraham Lucas is a tremendous talent but are they looking for bigger tackles moving forward?
I could add a whole bunch of receivers to the list. They love 4.4 runners (or faster) and there are a load in that range this year. However — increasingly it seems like nobody is going to make the kind of offer to tempt the Seahawks to part with D.K. Metcalf. Having used their top pick on a receiver just a year ago, this might end up being a position pushed to later in the draft (or UDFA) — especially given the depth of options available.
I made this list with historical trends and philosophy at the forefront of everything. That’s not to say they can’t or won’t adapt as they launch a new era for the team. It’s also true they’ve never been in a position to draft a player like Stingley Jr before — so this could easily be a year where new ground is broken.
However, based on what we do know, these are the players I think we can say with some degree of confidence ‘fit’ the Seahawks.
Apologies to regulars who will have read some of these notes before. I don’t want to be too repetitive but we’re in the home straight now.
Zion Johnson (G, Boston College)
He ticks every single box the Seahawks look for. His 3.33 TEF score means he’s the ninth most explosive offensive linemen to enter the league since 2016. His score is comparable to Russell Okung (3.37) — the highest pick in the Carroll era to date. Johnson also has 34 inch arms and a wonderfully proportioned frame. He’s the best-looking guard prospect I can recall since starting this blog in 2008. He also ran a ridiculous 4.46 short shuttle. Then you stick on the tape and where does he excel? In the running game. He is an aggressive, physical run-blocker. If the Seahawks want to get back to the Carroll brand of football, Johnson would be ideal both athletically and philosophically. The aim should be for this team to be great in the trenches. Selecting him early might not be exciting or flashy but putting Johnson at left guard to replace the spent force that is Gabe Jackson and returning Damien Lewis to the right guard spot would set up the Seahawks to possess a tremendous run-blocking O-line.
Tyler Linderbaum (C, Iowa)
In Carroll’s own words they signed Austin Blythe to try a different body type at center. They also admired his wrestling background. Carroll might as well have been wearing an Iowa Hawkeyes T-shirt as he uttered the sentence. Linderbaum is basically the 5-star version of Blythe with an identical body and an even more impressive wrestling background. Plenty of teams will look at the size and lack of length and deem he simply isn’t a fit for their scheme. Carroll has spelled out, though, that Linderbaum is exactly what they’re looking for. In the right scheme, he has a chance to be an all-pro. His ability to wrestle and combat at the POA is attractive and second only to his ability to reach to the second level and deliver crucial, run-springing blocks. His testing profile also fits the Seahawks. He’s explosive with a projected 3.07 TEF score and he ran a 4.38 short shuttle and a 4.98 forty. I know it probably won’t happen but the Seahawks could do so much for their identity to create a Zion Johnson/Tyler Linderbaum/Damien Lewis treble in the interior O-line.
Trevor Penning (T, Northern Iowa)
The Rams’ blocking scheme — which the Seahawks appear to be leaning on — loves size at tackle. The Seahawks traditionally love size and explosive traits. Therefore, Penning is an easy projection to match with Seattle. He’s a 3.03 TEF tester with a 6-7, 330lbs frame. He ran a 4.89 forty to further illustrate his athletic potential. He basically has the same profile as LA’s tackles for the last few years — Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein. The media will tell you he’s a big-time tough-guy too but I’ve been sceptical about that since the Senior Bowl. I think he tried too hard to portray that image. There were plenty of cheap shots and acts of aggression after bad reps. There were also many examples of poor technique and getting beaten far too easily. Thus, he’s a likely project who might have to settle for playing straight-on as a right guard. At best, in year one, he’s a right tackle (a possible permanent position for him). Nevertheless, he has the physical attributes the Seahawks have been attracted to in an offensive lineman.
Cam Jurgens (C, Nebraska)
If the Seahawks are looking for a different type of center, Jurgens also fits the bill. He’s a little bit taller than Linderbaum (6-3) but he’s still 290lbs. He does have great length though (33.5 inch arms) and his testing profile was remarkable. His 3.34 TEF score makes him the eighth most explosive lineman to enter the league since 2016. He ran a 4.92 forty and a 4.49 short shuttle. Calling his playing style ‘aggressive’ doesn’t do it justice. He is just an incredible, tone-setting prospect who was underrated for months and he still doesn’t get enough credit. I think Linderbaum provides the perfect profile for the type of center Seattle wants but Jurgens isn’t far behind. He probably fits more teams with his length. Yet for the Seahawks he has the size, physical profile and length they’ve often sought.
Logan Bruss (T, Wisconsin)
Bruss doesn’t get much national attention but there are a few reasons to think he could be on Seattle’s radar. He’s explosive with a 3.08 TEF score. He has experience at right tackle and guard. He has enormous 11 inch hands which he uses to strike, control and bully defenders. He has reasonable arm length (33 1/8 inches). He ran a 4.55 short shuttle at 309lbs. He’s aggressive and competitive and you can imagine the Seahawks drafting him and potentially giving him a chance to play inside or out. The Rams have two starting guards who both played tackle in college and have similar size to Bruss. He’s the type of versatile O-liner they’ve typically looked for.
Jermaine Johnson (DE, Florida State)
When the Seahawks made the Russell Wilson trade I highly suspect they did so imagining Johnson as a great option at #9. Perhaps he was even Plan A? Yet his stock has risen and risen and now it seems almost certain he will go between picks #4-7. It’s a shame because he has so much of what Seattle likes. He ran a 1.59 10-yard split (anything in the 1.5’s is intriguing). He has 34 inch arms. He wins with his hands not just athleticism. He can defend the run at a high level. He owned the Senior Bowl. He plays with a level of aggression and intensity that would’ve helped create the next identity for this team. They want another Darrell Taylor and Johnson was the man to fill the void. What could’ve been, eh?
Sam Williams (DE, Ole Miss)
In trying to find alternatives to Jermaine Johnson, most of the players have something that just forces you to question the fit in Seattle. With Boye Mafe it’s arm length, with George Karlaftis it’s frame, length and 10-yard split. Arnold Ebiketie’s split is a 1.69 reportedly. Ouch. Williams is the one who ticks the most boxes — speed, length, size. He has a great frame at 6-3 and 261lbs. He ran a blistering 1.52 10-yard split and a 4.46 forty. He has the arm length at 33 1/8 inches. His agility testing is reasonable (4.36 short shuttle). He has the athletic profile that the Seahawks look for. Then you see on tape an ability to win off the edge with quickness, lean and bend. He generally looks like the type of pass rusher they covet. I listened to Lane Kiffin on with Rich Eisen this week. Kiffin was asked for an Ole Miss player not named Matt Corral who we need to keep an eye on for the next level. Kiffin singled out Williams, noting he could be special in the right program. We know Carroll and the Kiffin’s are close. It won’t be a surprise at all if the Seahawks take Williams in round two.
Dameon Pierce (RB, Florida)
If I had to put money on anyone being a key target for the Seahawks, it’d be Pierce. He screams ‘Seattle running back’. The size, the explosive traits, the mentality, the running style. He provides a similar energy and tenacity to Thomas Rawls but on a frame more akin to Frank Gore. He slimmed down for workouts and was listed at around 5-10 and 218lbs which is right in Seattle’s range — but he probably plays in the 220’s. He jumped a 34.5 inch vertical which was a little lower than expected but still fine. It’s the running style that stands out. He drives through attempted tackles and gains yards after contact. He finishes every run and helps energise team mates with his attitude. His balance and strength combined with sharp cuts and a burst of speed make you want to put him in a Seahawks draft cap right now. I get the sense the only thing stopping him landing in Seattle in round three will be somebody else snapping him off the board.
Channing Tindall (LB, Georgia)
We’re now on to the linebacker portion of the article. Frankly, I could list a whole bunch of names here but I’m going to limit it to the two players who tick the most boxes. The Seahawks have typically targeted great athletes at linebacker (testing well in the forty, vertical etc) or they’ve gone after players running in the 4.00-4.10 range in the short shuttle. The likes of Cody Barton, Ben Burr-Kirven and Kevin Pierre-Louis all excelled in the short shuttle and it appears to be a drill they focus on a lot at linebacker. Let’s start with Tindall. He ran a 4.47 forty, jumped a 42 inch vertical and reportedly ran anything from a 4.07 to a 4.18 short shuttle. He flies to the ball-carrier and made one of the plays of the Senior Bowl game on special teams. His personality is infectious. It’s easy to imagine him being drafted to compete with Cody Barton.
Troy Andersen (LB, Montana State)
Andersen is a quite remarkable prospect — having played offense and defense in college and excelling at both. He ran a 4.42 forty at 243lbs at the combine with a stunning 1.49 10-yard split. He then jumped a 36 inch vertical and a 10-8 broad. At pro-day he added a 4.07 short shuttle and a 6.77 three cone. In terms of pure traits, he’s off the charts. There are players in this draft better equipped to start quickly and provide impact. Quay Walker, who could go in round one, for example — or Devin Lloyd. Yet nobody has the athletic ceiling of Andersen. It could be that he’s always a better athlete than player but his performance at the Senior Bowl will allay some fears. The short shuttle in particular makes me want to single him out here.
Logan Hall (DT, Houston)
The Seahawks have consistently targeted players who run well in the short shuttle on the defensive line too. In particular tackles and inside/out rushers. It’s worth noting Hall only has 32 3/4 inch arms. Provided they’re willing to overlook that quarter of an inch — Hall ran a 4.44 short shuttle at 283lbs. That’s impressive. And while he plays too high on tape and needs to work out a plan for his pass-rush (too often he appeared a bit reckless and haphazard — and that showed at the Senior Bowl too) there’s no doubting his potential to be a major disruptive force if given time. His pass rush win rate among interior players was way ahead of the rest of the class (16.2%) and his run stopping percentage (9.2%) is also reasonably high. He’d be well suited to eventually take over from Quinton Jefferson. The length is the only question mark but he couldn’t be closer to ticking that box.
Percy Butler (S, Louisiana)
This one was easy to end the list with — especially since the Seahawks had him in for an official visit recently. Butler is an absolute demon on special teams. I can imagine the Seahawks drafting him for that alone — but the fact he ran a 4.36 forty helps too. You could put together a highlights video of his hits on special teams. As with Dameon Pierce — it feels like the only thing stopping him being in Seattle is another team jumping the queue.
As I was putting this list together and I couldn’t help but feel, yet again, that this is a draft to start building your trenches rather than trying to fill specific holes. If you came out of this class with Zion Johnson, Tyler Linderbaum, Dameon Pierce and Logan Bruss I’d consider that a victory. Throw in a pass rusher and/or linebacker and you’re moving in the right direction in terms of creating the kind of team you want to be.
I completely appreciate that positional value has to play a part and thus, the above likely won’t happen. Gabe Jackson and Austin Blythe are both highly replaceable though. The likes of Johnson and Linderbaum provide an opportunity to create the kind of running attack you want, set the culture you want and they feel like players, to me, who can earn second contracts and develop into top performers at their individual positions.
I don’t have a problem with going in that direction. I think we also know the Seahawks well enough to imagine they will try to fill holes using the draft rather than replace replaceable players — while taking chances on upside at certain positions over perhaps more of a sure thing.
My position hasn’t really changed. I’d love to see the top pick go on a defensive player with the potential to be great and I think Derek Stingley Jr best fits that description (given the top-four pass rushers will be long gone by #9). Yet I’m also completely content with trading down and acquiring more stock, before looking at other players including some of the names above.
I wish they didn’t still have big holes on the roster at offensive tackle because I think part of their problem over recent years has been forcing needs instead of just adding the best players available.
This is a draft to build the foundation.
Building a foundation means picking for talent, not need, with a strict focus on creating the team you want to be.
Just get some good football players.
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