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