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.