Pre-Combine mock draft

By Jared Stanger

This is basically just a datestamp to document where players are being valued before they test athletically at next week’s NFL Combine.

We’ll start with the pre-existing condition: it is pretty rare for top 10 picks, especially top 5, to be traded in recent years. Teams have learned not to overpay to move up and instead just force teams ahead to make their picks. I could see Seattle WANTING to trade down, but just not getting the partner or value that they’d like. We’ll stick with them moving off of the #20 overall. The Chiefs have 12 picks…half in the 6th-7th…but they’re coming off a Super Bowl win with a very good roster, so maybe they’d be interested in moving #31 + #63 for #20.

#1.5 – DE, Tyree Wilson

He’s got the frame, he’s got the production, we probably don’t get his athletic testing this week still coming off his foot injury, but we did learn recently that he can run around 4.55-4.59 in the forty at 275lbs. I have Tyree as a potential Jason Pierre Paul type player. Same build at around 6’5″/275lbs…JPP ran a 4.78 forty in his draft year, so a 4.58 from Tyree would be impressive.

#1.31 – QB, Hendon Hooker

There’s no doubt in my mind right now that Seattle brings back Geno Smith, but I still think there’s a ton of opportunity in a draft with two 1st round picks to make a move for the future and stash some value. There are basically three reasons people don’t value Hendon correctly: 1) age, 2) injury, 3) college scheme. (Occasionally I will also see someone question his armstrength, but that’s just lazy.)

Per the PFF research…longest college in-game air-yards throw:

*Justin Herbert 67 yards
Hendon Hooker 66 yards
Anthony Richardson 64 yards
Will Levis 62 yards
Bryce Young 59 yards
CJ Stroud 58 yards

As for the age factor…you either believe that’s relevant or you don’t. Will Levis will be 23 and 10 months by the draft. Joe Burrow was 23 and 4 months when he was drafted. The other option for Seahawks’ QB is a second year starter at 32 years old. There’s still value to be found in an older QB if he’s a GOOD player.

The injury factor is mostly relevant for teams that have a shortage of draftpicks and/or an immediacy need for a QB in 2023. Neither apply to Seattle…assuming Geno returns.

College scheme…I think this is consistently a dumb conversation. Patrick Mahomes fell to #10 overall primarily due to the college scheme question. Dak Prescott was downgraded for coming from a Dan Mullen scheme. Coming from a college spread scheme isn’t prohibitive any more than coming from a college team with a pro system is a de facto benefit. Listen to your QB prospects. Learn their heads and their hearts.

#2.37 – DL, Tuli Tuipulotu

In most drafts you can kind of get a feel for some positional profiles a team is targeting. Certainly you can spot the positions a draft class is strong in. For 2023, there is a nice little pocket of DL that go roughly 6’4″/290lbs that have inside/outside versatility. Keion White is recently the one with the most heat, so I’m backing off of him. Some people like Adetomiwa Adebawore at 6’2″/280lbs. Karl Brooks played mostly DE at 6’4″/300lbs. Mike Morris is a pretty quiet name out of Michigan, but he had decent production at 6’6″/292lbs. Also Colby Wooden from Auburn at 6’5″/284lbs, Tyler Lacy from Oklahoma State 6’4″/285lbs, Byron Young from Alabama 6’3″/292lbs, Kobie Turner from Wake at 6’3″/290lbs, and Dante Stills from WVU at 6’4″/285lbs.

I’m not sure why the community isn’t higher on Tuli. He’s a young player with huge production (22.0 TFL, 13.5 sacks), that plays faster than his listed size of 6’4″/290lbs. My only thought is that the world is kinda low on the entire Pac12 right now.

#2.52 – TE, Tucker Kraft

Tightend will be the big test of whether Seattle is drafting BPA again this year. They probably don’t need a TE, but they should be looking at this class of TE and deciding to take one anyway because of the class quality.

I like the mix of skillset and value on Kraft.

#2.63 – OL, Steve Avila

Whether you realize it or not; the interior of the OL is probably a draft priority for the Seahawks. Basically the first re-sign of the offseason was OG Phil Haynes and in his 710 show right after the signing John Schneider talked about the weakness of the vet free agent market for guards.

My road to Avila started with watching him live in the college playoffs where he was facing some pretty legit DL in Michigan and Georgia rosters. Then, he was easily one of the standouts at the Senior Bowl. Then, I dug in and found that he had played Center for a year in 2021. I think this guy has a really interesting profile, and I don’t think you leave the 2nd round without addressing OL in some capacity.

#3.83 – CB, Darius Rush

I like this CB class a lot, but I think you can incorporate some gamesmanship to wait a bit longer down the draft to pick one than you can at other positions. I’ve previously drafted Rush in, I think, the 5th or 6th round. That price went up after his performance at the Senior Bowl. It might go up again after the Combine, but I think I’m okay to target him here.

#4.123 – LB, Yasir Abdullah

This is a very interesting spot, cause there could be someone very cool and specific that randomly is still on the board. There’s certainly a wide spectrum of position groups that could be here. Running back makes sense, safety makes sense, there could be a rad DE that you could add to the DL you’ve already added.

I’m trying to get out in front of a rise up draftboards by Abdullah coming after his Combine appearance. And let me be specific here…Yasir played primarily a linebacker-sized passrusher for Louisville. I want to move him to MIKE linebacker. I think he moves so well in space. I think he can cover. I think he plays with such high FB IQ. I see a pro comp in him that I won’t announce, but that could be pretty special.

#5.153 – RB, Eric Gray

I see a lot of mock drafting that kinda overdrafts running backs en masse in the 3rd round. I don’t think that’s truly how the draft will play out. RB’s tend to fall. They certainly should fall to the 4th, and hopefully with the depth of RB this year a fair group will still be there into the 5th. I tend to think Seattle is looking for a RB that is more complimentary to Ken Walker than similar to him…Eric Gray might be too similar. But he’s just too damn fun.

#5.156 – DL, Dante Stills

When a position group is strong; it’s not a terrible idea to draft two. Like two OT and two CB in 2022. Dante Stills falls into the same group as Tuli Tuipulotu, but whereas Tuli has had more experience at DE; Dante has more reps at DT. In a sense, you need both as you are losing LJ Collier from DE and Poona Ford from DT as free agents.

#6.198 – DS, Jason Taylor II

JT2 is such a personal favorite player of mine in this draft. And, in part because of the devaluation of safeties in general, and in part because this particular safety class is not viewed highly; I think there is some real chance that he falls this far. It will depend on how he performs at the Combine.

#7.238 – OC, Alex Forsyth

This is basically just a dart throw pick. I look around draft big boards to see names that are available well-late into the top 300 names or so, and Forsyth is one that I like. With both Austin Blythe and backup center Kyle Fuller currently free agents; it may be a good idea to get two young players that can both play center, if needed.

Full draft:

DE Tyree Wilson
QB Hendon Hooker
DL Tuli Tuipuloto
TE Tucker Kraft
OL Steve Avila
CB Darius Rush
LB Yasir Abdullah
RB Eric Gray
DL Dante Stills
DS Jason Taylor II
OL Alex Forsyth

Copycat Mock Draft

By Jared Stanger

It is a copycat league. There will be many shades of teams across the league trying to replicate the rosters that the Chiefs and Eagles created to get to the Super Bowl. This is my approximation of how to make some of that construction via this year’s draft using the Seahawks’ draft capital.


Interestingly, the highest drafted player on either roster that I found was Lane Johnson at #1.4. After that a bit of a dropoff to a collection of players historically picked between #1.10 and #1.13. John Schneider has already planted the seeds via media interviews that Seattle has pick #1.5 up for sale. It will be another matter for them finding a partner.

In a fascinating coincidence (or not coincidence) the players in this next tier are one QB (Mahomes), and then a collection of three Eagles defensive linemen (Fletcher Cox, Haason Reddick, Brandon Graham). Ultimately, I think that is what Seattle will be deciding between: do they pull the trigger on a QB, or do they solidify the DL? My answer is: there isn’t a Mahomes in this draft…take the DL.

This exercise isn’t a perfect match as, without the tradeback, I don’t think you take any of Cox, Graham, Reddick at #5. But previous #5 overall’s have included Bradley Chubb, Khalil Mack.

DL Tyree Wilson

We’re sticking with the classic.


This is really not a great place to draft. The last 10 years have seen about 50% of picks at #20 go to WR. Then OL maybe 30%. Noah Fant was another #20 pick. This is the pick you want to trade back. And, really, I’m okay with a pretty big drop back. More on this later. We’ll swap #20 to the Chiefs for their 1st and 2nd rounders, #31 and #63.


George Karlaftis was a Chiefs picks at #1.30 last year, and I wouldn’t mind that strategy if it looked like that profile would be there. But there’s a gap between say #16 and #45 where I would realistically value the guys with that build/skillset. Plus, we made that move at #5.

Instead, I’m going to reach slightly for OL. The Eagles drafted former Alabama Center Landon Dickerson at #2.37, and he turned into a Pro Bowl Guard this year. He may still be the heir apparent to Jason Kelce at Center as Kelce nears retirement.

OC, John Michael Schmitz

I had a mock draft months ago with JMS coming to Seattle in the 2nd round. After his impressive Senior Bowl showing; he may be the definitive OC1 and may not make it to the 2nd round. He may be worth it.


The second round is deeply important. Sketching out the basic starting rosters of both Super Bowl teams: there were 17 drafted between #33 and #64. So making that tradeback from #20 and adding a third pick in the 2nd is so clutch.

As for #37…between KC and PHI; there were two very important, Pro Bowl players drafted literally at #37: the aforementioned Dickerson, and the Chiefs’ Chris Jones. We already ticked off a Dickerson guy, so what can we do now in the world of DT? After the Senior Bowl; I’m zeroing in on two potentials. The guy that looks the most like the 6’6″/310lb Jones is Wisconsin DT Keeanu Benton at 6’4″/312lbs and 33 6/8″ arms. But the guy I liked better from a performance standpoint was Bowling Green DE Karl Brooks at 6’3″/303lbs, 32 2/8″ arms.

DL, Karl Brooks


If you’re not gonna find Patrick Mahomes in this draft; it might be serviceable to find Jalen Hurts. Hurts was picked at #53, so this is a fun parallel as Seattle owns pick #53, but it moves to #52 after Miami forfeits their first rounder.

QB, Hendon Hooker

I believe in two QB’s this draft and Hooker is the other. I’d take him in the 1st…I like having the 5th year option on him…but look at the structure we created if able to get him in the 2nd? Two DL, and an OL.

In this scenario, Hooker becomes the Hurts to Geno Smith’s Carson Wentz. Wentz started 12 games in 2020 with Hurts getting the last four. Then, in year two Hendon is the full-time starter.

We’re not going to be able to tick all the boxes on Hendon before the draft. He’s making progress on his ACL recovery ahead of schedule, but by no means will he be able to compete at the Combine, and probably not Pro Day. But, in addition to his season tape, in addition to his exceptional two-year INT rate of 0.7% and TD-to-INT of 11.6, we found out by his Senior Bowl weigh-in that he officially comes in at 6’4″ and his hands are 10 4/8″. Both crucial for Seattle weather games.


Not only is the 2nd round THEE most important round to nail for roster building…there are, insanely, three players on both SB rosters that were picked at #2.62, and FIVE unique guys drafted at #63 overall. That is stunning. Here are the #63 guys: 3x Pro Bowler Frank Clark, 2022 Pro Bowler Creed Humphrey, Juan Thornhill, Willie Gay, and 8x Pro Bowler Travis Kelce.

It is a widely-respected tightend class this year, and to my eye if Seattle is still incorporating the “best player available” model that worked so well for them in 2022; they should be considering TE’s at many points despite having all three of their 2022 TE’s returning to the team for 2023. Maybe Dissly doesn’t come back from injury timely, maybe one gets traded from their position of depth, maybe you just do it cause of BPA and see what happens.

TE, Tucker Kraft


This one is a bit of a cheat cause I’m going to use a general Defensive Back category to draft a CB in the spirit of a guy that has played some nickel, but is really more of a Safety. But I’m also using a pick about 20 spots earlier than the Safety was drafted. So it kinda washes out, maybe-ish. The Eagles player is CJ Gardner Johnson, drafted at #4.105.

CB, Darius Rush

I think in previous mock(s) I’ve drafted Darius in like the 5th round, but after his Senior Bowl performance: I can’t see him get out of of the 4th. In future mocks when I’m not under the confines of this particular exercise, I may move him down to the 4th, but today he’s a 3rd.


There’s really only one player from the SB that fits this draft region: DE Josh Sweat. Sweat came out of FSU at 6’5″/251lbs before building up to about 265lbs as a pro. After a rookie redshirt campaign, he has been gradually improving every year with sack totals of: 4.0, 6.0, 7.5, 11.0. You don’t always find a power-5 edge guy around this pick…more often he’ll come from a small school, and that’s kind of my focus.

DE, Caleb Murphy

Murphy measured at the Shrine Game as 6’3″/254lbs and he set multiple college records in 2022 with his 25.5 sacks and 39.0 TFL. Crazy marks at any level of competition.


At this point, the pickin’s are pretty slim. Seattle has 4 draftpicks remaining, and I literally only have 9 names remaining on the KC/PHI rosters. I really need to take a Linebacker, but the closest match would be Mike Danna who is more of an undersized Edge.

LB, Yasir Abdullah

Yasir played primarily Edge for Louisville, but he measured only 6’1″/234lbs at the Shrine, so I’m going to train him to play primarily off the ball.


In most of my prior mock drafts for this cycle; I’ve either been drafting a Guard or a Center. The way this exercise works out; the best match is to try to pull KC Guard Trey Smith. Smith was a guy that many had very high projection on if he had declared earlier in his Tennessee career. Instead he waited, had some slight health redflag pop up, and fell to the Chiefs at #226 in the 6th round. It’s kind of a similar story for UW’s Jaxson Kirkland.

OG, Jaxson Kirkland

Jaxson initially declared for the 2022 draft…he had an invite to the Senior Bowl that year, but discovered he needed ankle surgery. Then, to return to UW in 2022, he had some weird eligibility issue with the NCAA, and had to be approved for a waiver. That finally got settled, but Jaxson was moved from OT back to OG by new Washington coaching staff, and when the season ended; Jaxson ended up at the Shrine Game where he measured 6’7″/322lbs.


Another slight cheat…although it’s more of a reach than anything, which should be acceptable. Chiefs drafted RB Isaiah Pacheco in the 7th round, but I’ll take one earlier for a team that tends to rely on it’s run-game more than KC does. I’m also targeting a runner with slightly bigger dimensions than Pacheco.

RB, Camerun Peoples

Camerun measured 6’2″/215lbs at the Senior Bowl after playing at App State closer to 225lbs. I’d ask him to bulk back up for the League. Looking for a trucker, here.


There’s kind of only one player left to copy at this point: Chiefs 7th round pick last year, CB Jaylen Watson out of WSU. It wouldn’t be the worst strategy in this deep 2023 CB class. But in this particular case…I’m going to do the inverse of what I did in the 3rd round. Instead of drafting a CB in a Safety spot…I will take a Safety in a CB spot.

DS, Jason Taylor II

Nobody in the media is on Taylor, so we’ll see if he actually falls this far. At minimum he’s a special teams Pro Bowler kind of guy.

Normally, I would do a quick summary of all the picks here, but I’m starving. Please just scroll back up this time.