By Jared Stanger
The Seahawks may be on bye, but draft scouting goes on. And the good news is, due to a loss by the Denver Broncos on Sunday; Seattle is now projecting to pick in the 5th overall draftslot as their pick acquired from Denver in the Russell Wilson trade. And the 2nd rounder from Denver this year would actually fall at #35 overall. The Seattle native picks are a little less concrete as playoff teams will be reseeded as they progress or get eliminated from the playoffs, but for now we call it pick #21. The overall draft board goes:
To me, if you’re picking in the top 5, and you’ve already given Geno Smith a new contract of some sort, and you hit on two OT last year, and it’s not a good class for WR in general let alone top 5, you’re trying to find a defensive superstar of some kind. The three names that seem to come up the most are DE Will Anderson, DT Jalen Carter, and CB Kelee Ringo. If any two teams in the top four take QB’s; you’re guaranteed to get one of those three. It’s kind of like last year when it felt pretty likely you would get one of the top three OT’s on the board.
Ringo, even though it would be so fun to bring a Tacoma guy home to Washington, is probably the least needed as you’re doing very well with 2022 CB picks Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant, and 2021 pick Tre Brown may be back after the bye.
If he blows up the Combine the way he’s expected to; Carter may be the least likely to fall to #5. And then you’re hoping that somebody in the top 4 goes with an offensive tackle in there somewhere. This will actually leave you with a choice between 2 of your top 3 targets. In this scenario it’s between Ringo and Anderson.
#1.5 – Defensive End, Alabama, Will Anderson
This has been a down year for college passrushers. Basically across the board. Will Anderson is one of the few that was touted before the season and he’s still produced. Listed at 6’4″/243lbs, Anderson has posted 46 tackles, 14.0 TFL, 8.0 sacks, 10 hurries, 1 PBU, 1 INT, through 11 games. That production is top 25 in the country with a few games to go. And his numbers in 2021 were even better: 33.5 TFL, 17.5 sacks, 9 hurries. In the pass-rush study I did earlier this fall; it appeared to me that there are certain benchmarks that are hugely predictive of future success. But it also suggested that those numbers do not have to be accrued in any given player’s draft year…they can come in an underclass year.
The one thing I don’t love about the Anderson pick is that in my research it seems as though Seattle is looking harder at Edge rushers that are more in the 275lb range than the linebacker size. This could be a Myles Murphy, DJ Johnson, Isaiah Foskey, or the guy I was really high on until literally a couple hours ago when it came out that he was injured and would miss the rest of the year: Tyree Wilson. Tyree self-reported he had a broken bone in his foot. We’ve seen broken foot injuries become extremely hard to completely heal for other players in the past, so this is potentially a scary injury. But, in theory, I really like the player.
#2.21 – Center, Minnesota, John Michael Schmitz
In recent years I’ve been extremely frustrated at the times and values the Seahawks have passed on at the Center position. I really don’t want to do it again. Determining the correct time to strike on a Center is a bit challenging. Last year Tyler Linderbaum came off as the first Center drafted at #25 overall, with Cole Strange quickly following at #29. In 2021, it was more like #37 in the 2nd (depending on if you call Landon Dickerson a Center), and then Josh Myers and Creed Humphrey at #62-63.
I’d like to wait for him until the 2nd round, but it’s not worth the risk. This year isn’t as strong at Center as the previous two drafts. Gotta get your guy.
JMS is such a rock-solid player. Smart. Tough. Reliable. Former wrestler. I also like that he’s the anchor of the OL that has blocked for the 2nd-most productive running back, Mohamed Ibrahim, in the country. Minnesota has also allowed only 10 sacks, 8th-fewest in the country, through 11 games this year. Good combination of metrics, tape, and intangibles.
If he declares, another Center to really watch for is Georgia redshirt Soph Sedrick Van Pran. He has nasty in a way that the current OL doesn’t really have.
#3.35 – Quarterback, Tennessee, Hendon Hooker
After the heart-breaking news that Hendon tore his ACL in his game yesterday vs South Carolina, ending his season, you sort of go through a version of the stages of grief. When you get to bargaining; you start to realize that maybe this lowers Hendon’s draft stock. I mean, it will. It’s just a question of how much. I did some quick research and found 6-10 recent, similar examples and in almost every one the player didn’t fall beyond the 2nd round.
Again, it should already be in John Schneider’s mind to extend Geno Smith to an extension. Ideally, it’s two years with more guaranteed money, but maybe you have to go three years with a non-guaranteed 3rd year. This would give Hendon plenty of time to rehab, and then get his practice reps up. The interesting part might come to be what Seattle does for their QB2 as Drew Lock is also a free agent.
Being able to get Hendon in the 2nd round would be such a bonus. It would keep Geno’s mind more at ease. It would allow you to address some other needs first.
#2.54 – Cornerback, Illinois, Devon Witherspoon
Witherspoon is a quickly ascending player who you’d be thrilled to get in the late-2nd. He’s listed 6’0″/180lbs, but plays stronger than his weight might suggest. He’s very productive, posting 37 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 INT, 14 PBU through 11 games this year.
#3.85 – DL, Pittsburgh, Calijah Kancey
Kancey is an interesting player. He’s undersized at 6’0″/280lbs, but has some of the best interior passrush tape in this class. If what he’s done at the college level translates to the NFL; he’d be a player type the Seahawks are sorely lacking. It would be an even bigger bonus if he shows capability to play DE on early downs.
#4.122 – RB, UCLA, Zach Charbonnet
It is stunning to me that I never see Charbonnet mocked higher. But Dameon Pierce fell to the 4th round, so who knows. At 6’1″/220lbs, I like the idea of Charbonnet as a counter-point to Ken Walker.
#5.145 – LB, North Carolina, Cedric Gray
Cody Barton will be a free agent after this year, so the Seahawks need a starting linebacker pretty bad. My hope is that they sign one in free agency, and then add another at their leisure in the draft. Gray is listed 6’2″/230lbs and should start climbing draft boards based on his performance this year. He’s 3rd in the country in tackles while also posting 9TFL, 1 sack, 4 hurries, 2 INT, 5 PBU, and 2 FF. Well-rounded backer that could play MIKE if needed, but we’ll be playing him at WILL.
#5.159 – DS, Oklahoma State, Jason Taylor II
Seattle has a ton of money tied up in the safety spot, but Jamal Adams is a current and constant injury problem. Quandre Diggs is having a down year, but he’s too important in the locker room. But we still need to augment that position group. Taylor is a 6’0″/215lbs safety that pulls high tackle numbers (7.55/gm) and this year has 5 INT, 7 PBU, and 2 TFL. A very solid player with upside.
#6.197 – LB, Louisville, Yasir Abdullah
While this Edge class is a little disappointing at the high end; it does have nice depth. I highly recommend drafting two. Abdullah is a bit of a tweener at 6’1″/242lbs, but he’s posted consecutive years of 8.0+ sacks, and before the year is over that could be back-to-back 10+ sacks. And he’s well-rounded enough that he could play off the ball if needed. He’s got 2 INT, 4 PBU, 4 FF, 13 TFL.
DE Will Anderson
OC John Michael Schmitz
QB Hendon Hooker
CB Devon Witherspoon
DL Calijah Kancey
RB Zach Charbonnet
LB Cedric Gray
DS Jason Taylor
LB Yasir Abdullah