Seahawks Q&A: What’s Seattle’s top priority in the 2021 NFL Draft?

Jan 30, 2021, 9:43 AM
Seahawks OL...
The Seahawks have two starting offensive linemen hitting free agency. (Getty)

The first step in the Seahawks’ offseason is complete: they’ve got their new offensive coordinator.

Heaps: With new coaches, Seahawks’ offense may not need a lead RB

But that’s just one of many important decisions the Hawks have to make this offseason. Understandably, many Seahawks fans are wondering about their team’s next steps.

Stacy Rost of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy asked for questions from the fan base this week on Twitter, and she answers several of them below.

@Noa_253: What are the Seahawks top draft priorities? 

It’s hard not to look at the offensive line here, particularly with the potential departure of two starters in free agency: left guard Mike Iupati and center Ethan Pocic.

Seattle had another solid year from left tackle Duane Brown, a promising debut from rookie right guard Damien Lewis, and a bargain find with right tackle Brandon Shell. But the majority of teams in the divisional round of the playoffs all had one thing in common: great protection.

Clevaland, Green Bay, Los Angeles, and Tampa Bay were in the top-5 rankings by Pro Football Focus, while New Orleans, Buffalo, and Kansas City round out the top 11. Seattle finished around the middle of the pack (14) which is good – but not usually good enough to be dominant on offense.

Without a first-round pick, Seattle won’t have a shot at some of the premier prospects, but that doesn’t mean they can’t find talent in the second round and later. Jim Nagy, an ESPN Draft Analyst and the Executive Director of the Senior Bowl, joined Jake and Stacy earlier this month to preview the 2021 class. There were two big takeaways – one good, and one … concerning.

The good news is that Nagy believes the offensive line group at the Senior Bowl is loaded. And that’s not the only group with decent depth – the Seahawks should also have a shot at a few nice receivers with their second-round pick.

The bad news? The evaluation process is even harder this year.

“I think the rich are going to get richer,” Nagy said. “In the sense that the good scouting staffs are going to have a leg up in this thing, and Seattle’s got a great one. And I’m not just saying that because I worked with those guys or I’m on in your market right now. Those guys do an awesome job. The difference between last year and this year is last year at least the scouts all had boots on the ground all fall on college campuses. They really had a good handle on last year’s group of players. This year they don’t. This year they hadn’t been on college campuses, except for Saturdays. They were allowed to go to games and watch from the stands, they couldn’t go to field level and connect with the coaches pre-game.”

Nagy added that while scouts can engage in Zoom calls with members of college coaching staffs, given the large audience during the calls, it stays “pretty vanilla” compared to questions they’d normally feel comfortable asking one-on-one.

@jnrkptweets: What would you define as success for the Seahawks next season?

I’ll start with a bit of context before my answer: the Seahawks don’t have a ton of wiggle room this offseason. The Seahawks have four draft picks (and no first-rounder) and about $4 million in cap space (OverTheCap gives them $2.8 million while Spotrac gives them just over $4 million).

So, one way to measure success this season is by the thing they’ll need most: development from the young players who are already on this roster. Barring a trade of a top-paid player, there’s little money and draft capital to spend on an influx of new talent. That means they’ll want to see another step forward from guys like defensive ends Darrell Taylor, Alton Robinson, and Rasheem Green, safety Marquise Blair, linebacker Jordyn Brooks, and running back Rashaad Penny.

That’s the first part. As far as record? It’s hard to see anything short of a conference appearance being seen as successful by either this franchise or its fans. Technically a divisional-round appearance would be an improvement from last year, as would 13 wins or a No. 1 or 2 seed. But this is a team that hasn’t been to the NFC title game since the 2014 season, despite having a top franchise quarterback and stability at head coach and general manager.

Should we expect the Seahawks to re-sign Hollister? What would be a realistic contract?

This is an interesting one, and I think depends entirely on A) the market Hollister will find as an unrestricted free agent, which may not be as lucrative as it could have been last year, and B) how this team feels about Colby Parkinson.

Hollister became an unexpected staple in 2019. He was acquired via trade from the Patriots and worked his way up the depth chart before taking over as a starter following injuries to both Will Dissly and Luke Willson. Hollister was a part of several key plays, and the team extended a second-round tender to him last spring as a restricted free agent. (That was effectively a one-year deal worth $3.2 million.)

When will there be a woman coordinator in the NFL, Stacy! I was hoping the Seahawks would go for it this time. Perhaps next time?

That would be awesome! I do want to shoutout two women who will be making an appearance as part of a Super Bowl team this year. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers became the first NFL team to have two full-time female coaches on its staff: Assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust and assistant strength and conditioning coach Maral Javadifar. Meanwhile, the Jennifer King will reportedly become a full-time offensive assistant for the Washington Football Team, becoming the league’s first Black woman to be hired as a full-time NFL coach.

Follow Stacy Rost on Twitter.

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Seahawks Q&A: What’s Seattle’s top priority in the 2021 NFL Draft?