I think John Schneider is going to draft a quarterback next week.

I appreciate it’s not the boldest of bold takes. However, when the Seahawks traded for Sam Howell I certainly doubted it at the time. I’ve come around a bit since then. That move, with hindsight, was undoubtedly an attempt to hedge the draft and make sure they didn’t come out of this off-season with no young quarterback on the roster. The alternative was scrambling around in the expensive, underwhelming veteran backup market. Thus, Howell to Seattle.

In the last 24 hours there are a few tea leaves doing the rounds that suggest the Seahawks aren’t finished at the position.

Firstly, I was watching a three-round mock draft featuring former Vikings GM Rick Spielman (who most recently worked with the Commanders to sort through their front office build as an advisor). Spielman had Seattle’s pick at #81 and selected Michael Pratt the Tulane quarterback. He prefaced the pick by saying he was going to ‘throw a curveball’.

There was no deeper explanation for the pick but I found it interesting.

Then I saw this video featuring Peter Schrager:

If you can’t watch it, basically Schrager says he made a mistake not including Michael Penix Jr in his mock draft this week after being contacted by several league sources. If the Washington quarterback doesn’t go in the top-20, someone will make sure he doesn’t get out of round one. He says the two teams he’s hearing connected to Penix Jr are the Raiders and the Seahawks.

Here’s my takeaway from this. Whether it happens or not, it seems to me like there’s a feeling ‘in the league’ that the Seahawks will draft a quarterback. That’s being expressed in two ways here — the possibility of them drafting Penix Jr early, or taking someone like Michael Pratt in the middle rounds.

Why is that noteworthy? For so long now, you’ve barely heard anything of this nature. The Seahawks never come up as a likely QB destination when the main media types talk about the position. The thought is — they have Geno Smith and traded for Sam Howell. That’s enough.

When I see and hear stuff like this from Spielman and Schrager, it just makes me think there’s a jungle drum beating somewhere suggesting the Seahawks are interested in the position.

Let’s put it this way. The Seahawks have a Heisman runner-up on their doorstep, who just led his team to the National Championship game. They literally hired his college offensive coordinator to run the offense in Seattle. Yet the fans/media has barely talked about Penix Jr to the Seahawks over the last month. It’s been an afterthought, amid all the talk of offensive and defensive linemen.

Apologies for repeating myself — but is it any surprise that the man who was Director of Football Operations when the Green Bay Packers had a QB depth chart of Brett Favre, a first round pick (Aaron Rodgers) and a second round pick (Brian Brohm) might be set to add a quarterback — potentially in the first three rounds — to go with Smith and Howell?

Plus the Seahawks have pretty much addressed all of their needs pre-draft. You can’t address every need with a splash signing. They’ve set themselves up to not feel forced to do anything in any particular round. Essentially, if they wanted to draft a quarterback for development purposes or even to compete this year — it’d be no different than doing the same at linebacker, defensive tackle or safety.

When I do my next Seahawks seven round mock, there will be a quarterback included. I don’t think they’re going to reach. I think they’ll let the board come to them. Taking Penix Jr might require trading down first and him still being available. Pratt might be more of a focus at #102 than #81. Either way though, I think one of the top-seven QB’s in this class will end up in Seattle.

Once they’re gone, you’ve missed the boat. I don’t see any point in wasting a pick on Joe Milton unless it’s a throwaway seventh rounder. Jordan Travis lacks the physical tools to start in the NFL — plus he’s coming off a horrendous injury. When Spencer Rattler and Pratt are gone, that’s more or less it.

I’ve said it since Pete Carroll departed — Schneider is itching to take a quarterback, or make a splash at the position. The non-committal comments about Geno Smith in the build up to the combine spelled out their aims. They want to find the future at QB. That will either come in the form of a big investment (eg, a first round pick on Penix Jr) or it’ll come in the form of taking a lot of different shots (using a mid-round pick on Michael Pratt).

I don’t think they’re going to be passive, though. I don’t think they’re going to keep kicking the can down the road. This is the third off-season since the Russell Wilson trade. I can’t imagine they’ll go another draft without selecting a quarterback. Not a throwaway pick either. Something more substantial.

Could it be Penix Jr? Yes. For all we know, Ryan Grubb is banging the table for him behind the scenes. For all we know, John Schneider thinks his golden arm is the key to contention in the future. We know he’s a scheme fit and we know Schneider thinks a lot of the Washington offense featuring Penix Jr, that’s why Grubb’s in Seattle and not Alabama.

While Penix Jr is far from a perfect prospect — his downfield throwing ability is an X-factor trait. He helped elevate the Huskies and showed against Texas what his upside potential is.

Would it be that shocking if the Seahawks found a way to jump the Raiders, if they like him so much? I’m sure the Broncos would enjoy screwing a division rival — especially if the player they’re eyeing would be available at #16 anyway. Or perhaps Penix Jr is destined to last into the later part of round one and the Seahawks intend to trade down, collect stock and then pull the trigger?

As for Pratt, I remember watching Oklahoma against Tulane in 2021. It was expected to be a one-sided game — and it was at half-time. Yet the Tulane quarterback just wouldn’t quit. He was getting absolutely hammered (literally) from start to finish. He had no help. Yet he dragged them back from a 20-odd point deficit in the second half to within a drive of winning the game. I immediately made a note of the QB’s name — Michael Pratt.

As I watched more, I got the sense that his upside wasn’t that high. His arm is good not great. There isn’t a real dynamism to his game. He’s solid but unspectacular. His stat-line as a four year starter has been consistent throughout. He was a big part of the Tulane team that elevated to win the Cotton Bowl during the 2022 season. Tulane were 23-5 over the last two seasons after going 2-10 in 2021. It’s their best two-year period in over 90 years.

Athletically he’s better than expected. He ran a 4.23 short shuttle, jumped a 36 inch vertical and a 9-6 broad jump. He compares somewhat to Drew Lock — who ran a 4.12 shuttle and jumped a 31 inch vert and a 9-4 broad. Lock was 10lbs heavier but they have the same level of athleticism and hand size. We know Schneider liked Lock — so it’s plausible he’d take a shot on Pratt.

I want the Seahawks to build up the trenches as much as anyone — but I also think this team needs ‘the guy’ at quarterback, with all the benefits of having ‘the guy’ on a rookie contract, to become a serious contender again. Geno Smith is 34 this year. He’s been streaky in both of his two seasons as a starter in Seattle — with good and bad stretches (even Schneider spelled that out). He’s a very useful bridge. They can’t just keep muddling along though without investing in this position short of a pick-swap for Howell. You can’t force it but you can’t ignore it either.

We might finally be reaching a point where Schneider does what he says he set out to do all along — regularly draft quarterbacks. It might be one this year and next. Keep looking for the guy. Because once you find him, it’s amazing how a top-tier franchise quarterback can cover a lot of warts.

The Seahawks will draft a quarterback in the first four rounds next week. That’s my prediction.

Stay tuned this week — my weekly appearance on PuckSports will publish at 1pm PT on Thursday. I’m also interviewing Washington tight end Jack Westover later today, plus I’ll be interviewing my good friend Tony Pauline on Friday to discuss a number of a draft topics. Curtis Allen has an updated cap article coming this weekend and I’ll also have a new mock draft. Then, on Sunday, I’ll be part of the Hawkblogger draft roundtable at the earlier start time of 11am PT. It all builds up to extensive coverage of the Seahawks and the draft next week. So be sure to check out Seahawks Draft Blog and my YouTube channel — and if you want to support the blog via Patreon, click here.