By Jared Stanger
Welcome to the postseason. Seattle is in. And in pretty unprecedented fashion; they’re in the playoffs AND have a top 5 draftpick in this immediate draft. Of course this is due to the draftpick acquired from the Denver Broncos trade, and that is now officially #5 overall. We can also lock in Denver’s second pick we own that will be at #37 overall, in the 2nd round.
The Seahawks’ native picks are a little less clear. Playoff teams will draft between #19 and #31 (Miami forfeits their 1st round pick, so only 31 picks in this year’s first). If Seattle loses to San Francisco in their wildcard game; Seattle will draft at either #19 or #20. If Tampa wins their WC game with a Seattle loss, Seahawks would get the highest pick of all playoff teams at #19. If Seattle wins their WC game, their native pick moves back to at least #24. Rinse-repeat for each round of playoffs advanced through.
For purposes of this mock draft, I will use Seattle’s playoff seeding to put them at #20 overall (second round at #53, third round #84, etc). Compensatory picks have not been announced, but with estimating done by other sources, Seattle’s total draft could look something like:
In previous mock incarnations I was trading down from their top overall pick. Looking at the tradeback options from a finalized top 18 overall; I really don’t love the options. Eagles own #10 overall by trade, and then are currently slotted at #31 at the end of the 1st as owners of the league’s best regular season record. A) I don’t love sliding back that far from #5, B) Seattle would have to include their 3rd rounder to be able to get both Eagles’ first’s. Which I don’t love. Third’s are valuable.
Instead, I will only trade down from #20. Making the playoffs meant dropping 5-6 draftslots already, which means missing out on guy like Brian Branch, who I would have tried to get at, say, #15. I will still use the Eagles as trade partner, and move #20 to them for #31 plus #63. That creates a draft board with two 1’s, three 2’s, and 10 total picks. I’ll leave it at that (until I’m in the 4th round and realize I REALLY want another player who is coming up).
#1.5 – Defensive End, Texas Tech, Tyree Wilson
I’ve been on this train for a while so why stop now. There’s a bunch of intel that tells me the Seahawks are looking for a guy with Tyree’s profile. 6’6″/275lbs with some positional versatility to rush primarily outside, with ability to move inside on 3rd down. They’ve scouted the field of similar players pretty extensively. They used this profile to great success in the past. They kinda don’t have this profile currently on the roster. And the draft class has a bunch of pretty intriguing versions of this guy. If it’s not Tyree, you’ve got Myles Murphy, Zach Harrison, Isaiah Mcguire, etc.
I like the way Tyree can set an edge. There’s no doubt in my mind he can run-defend. I feel pretty confident his college traits as a passrusher will progress and translate as a pro. He’s the best combo package of everything I’m looking for.
#1.31 – Quarterback, Tennessee, Hendon Hooker
Another player that is held over from (many) prior mocks. As long as the Seahawks have done something to address QB from a veteran standpoint (Geno, Drew, Jimmy, whoever) on a one-two year deal; Hendon is the guy I want from the draft to develop. Part of needing another bridge year QB is that Hendon is coming off knee surgery, and his timeline will be prolonged physically. Part of this is simply what I see across the league. Joe Burrow needed a year. Josh Allen needed a year, arguably two. Even with Urban partially to blame, Trevor Lawrence needed a year. Jalen Hurts needed two years. We don’t know that Mahomes NEEDED a year, but he got one as redshirt. Geno needed nine years. I think the days of a stud rookie QB are mostly behind us.
#2.37 – Center, Michigan, Olusegun Oluwatimi
It’s been two years that Seattle has bypassed drafting a center, and there have been some good ones available at value. They really need to remedy that this year. I don’t think they HAVE to use their earliest pick in the 2nd to get him, but I think they have to leave the top 63 with one. Oluwatimi is the leader of the Michigan OL that has gone to back-to-back winning the Joe Moore Award. Michigan offense was #3 in the country in yards per carry, and #25 nationally in sacks allowed (17 in 14 games). Olu was also an award winner individually; taking this year’s Rimington and Outland Awards.
#2.53 – Cornerback, Mississippi State, Emmanuel Forbes
Even with Seahawks pulling Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant out of the 2022 draft; they have impending free agents in Michael Jackson, Artie Burns, Justin Coleman, Jalen Tabor. And this is a very solid group of 2023 players. There’s a specific niche in the class of players that are on the slighter side of 190lbs, but that I think are playing bigger and tougher than size would suggest. Forbes has serious ball-skills, sneaky return skills, and underrated thump.
#2.63 – Defensive Tackle, Michigan, Mazi Smith
It’s tough to find true nose tackles anymore, and with Mazi’s expected Combine testing, this may be too late to grab him. He’s listed 6’3″/337lbs, and was the #1 player on the preseason “Freaks List”. It wouldn’t take much arm-twisting for me to switch Mazi and Olu in draft positioning. Seattle has got to get stronger, more consistent vs the run. Hopefully the Wizard of Maz can help with that.
#3.84 – Linebacker, Ohio State, Tommy Eichenberg
I was very close to taking a safety with this pick, but with considerations for currently rostered players and the depth of the safety class in this draft; I’m going to push that in favor of help at linebacker. Barton is a free agent, Brooks is now gonna be on knee-surgery recovery timetable. Really, linebacker should be their #1 pursuit in free agency. Get some vet help at the spot, with Roquan Smith being the #1 target. And also draft one. Eichenberg may not be the flashiest guy in this draft, but I feel like he’s got one of the highest floors. At 6’2″/239lbs, 120 tackles, 12.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks, and defensive captain for a playoff team.
#4.121 – Running Back, Texas, Roschon Johnson
In the spot that I’ve typically been giving to Zach Charbonnet; this time I’m switching it up cause the silence on Charbonnet is starting to give me weird vibes. Johnson is the backup to Bijan Robinson, but a talented runner in his own right. I’ve seen some make the comparison to Priest Holmes at Tennessee, but I’m gonna point at Chris Carson 2016 backing up Justice Hill. Carson was 6’1″/215lbs…Johnson listed 6’2″/222lbs. Carson had 82 carries for 559 yards…Johnson had 93 carries for 554 yards. It’s important to me to find a beefier counterpoint to Ken Walker.
#5.151 – Safety, Oklahoma State, Jason Taylor II
It’s a lowkey goal of mine to find the Kevin Byard, Justin Simmons safety of 2023. Both of those guys were 3rd round picks that have played up to Pro Bowl level since they were drafted. But as I’m working through this mock; I just don’t have the ammo to use the 3rd rounder on safety. So now the goal is Talanoa Hufanga…the 2021 5th rounder that is a Pro Bowler this year. The tricky part about Talanoa was that he was in the draft following the shortened 2020 Covid season. That creates some other variables that make it hard to evaluate why he was drafted in the 5th. My best approximation has come out to be Jason Taylor II. Listed 6’0″/215lbs, Taylor is the rare player that I’d feel comfortable playing in the box, ranging centerfield in single-high, or as part of two-high safety looks. He finished the year with 99 tackles, 6 INT, and 7 PBU. At minimum, I think he becomes the Pro Bowl designated special teams player.
#5.156 – Linebacker, TCU, Dee Winters
We’re going back to linebacker to add some more playmaking upside. Dee Winters is a 6’1″/230lb player for the National Champion finalist TCU Horned Frogs. For 2022 he had 72 tackles, 14.5 TFL, 7.5 sacks, 2 PBU, 1 pick-six. And played probably the best game of his career in the previous playoff game. If Eichenberg is your rock; Winters is your roll.
#6.196 – Defensive End, Missouri, Isaiah McGuire
And another positional double-dip. Last year it was Boye Mafe then Tyreke Smith. In 2020 it was Darrell Taylor then Alton Robinson. Seattle is frequently looking to take double-shots on Edge players in the draft. Mcguire is another guy right in that 6’4″/274lb sweet spot this year. After opening the year with only 2.5 TFL in his first five games; Isaiah closed the year with 10.5 TFL in his last 7 games (total of 13.0 TFL). He also posted 7.5 sacks, 4 hurries. Again, as evidenced by the performance of Smith and Robinson; this is mostly just a flyer.
You know…as I was continuing to progress through writing this mock; it’s still sticking with me that I might have Mazi Smith too low. Between him and Olu Oluwatimi, the two Wolverines, I think Mazi is easily the more unicorn-like player. The lesser depth position. I’m gonna flip those two guys in their respective spots in the 2nd round, but I’ll leave it alone in the edit.
#1.5 – DE Tyree Wilson
#1.31 – QB Hendon Hooker
#2.37 – DT Mazi Smith
#2.53 – CB Emmanuel Forbes
#2.63 – OC Olusegun Oluwatimi
#3.84 – LB Tommy Eichenberg
#4.121 – RB Roschon Johnson
#5.151 – DS Jason Taylor II
#5.156 – LB Dee Winters
#6.196 – DE Isaiah McGuire