Rost: Making the case for the Seahawks drafting different positions
The Seahawks have just three picks in this year’s NFL Draft and a few holes to fill. So where do they start?
Seattle is on the clock at No. 56 overall. Here’s the case for a number of positions:
Make the case for drafting: OL
Russell Wilson did half the work for you when he made a rare divergence from his always-sunny team outlook to mention that he wouldn’t mind getting a bit more protection up front. In the wave of critique that followed – some fair – it’s worth noting that Seattle could always get better with its pass protection.
Pro Football Focus (PFF) ranked the unit 16th overall in pass protection, which is one of the best marks under Pete Carroll, but there’s always room for improvement, particularly if offense is going to be a strength against the defensive fronts in the NFC West. All but two of PFF’s top eleven teams in OL rank made it to the postseason (New England and San Francisco are the exceptions). That list includes all four conference championship teams and the eventual Super Bowl-winning Buccaneers at No. 5 overall.
The Seahawks bolstered the line by adding former Raider Gabe Jackson, and second-year pro Damien Lewis has the other guard spot secured. But Seattle could look for a center to replace Ethan Pocic, or draft a tackle as Duane Brown’s eventual successor.
Make the case for drafting: WR
Don’t overlook the loss of David Moore. It was easy for Seattle’s third wide receiver to be overshadowed by DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, both of whom surpassed 1,000 yards in 2020, marking the first time since 1995 two Seahawks receivers recorded 1,000 or more yards in a single season.
With Lockett signed to a new contract extension and Metcalf being, well, Metcalf, the two vets will see the lion’s share of targets in 2021. However, there’s little tested depth behind them. Freddie Swain, last year’s sixth-round pick, had a promising rookie campaign and offers a speedy option in the slot, but there will be a few tempting prospects at 56 overall – and why not give your new offensive coordinator as many weapons as possible?
Make the case for drafting: QB
Drama! Plus, a backup option should the team decide to trade Wilson. A trade still feels incredibly unlikely for 2020 though and resources are best spent elsewhere this year – especially with Geno Smith signed up for 2021.
Make the case for drafting: RB
Make the case for drafting: TE
I can’t do this unless it’s Kyle Pitts, and it won’t be.
Make the case for drafting: DL
The D-line seemed shaky with the release of Carlos Dunlap and Jarran Reed, but a reunion with Dunlap and a few additional signings have begun to solidify this group. Seattle has tested veterans like Dunlap and Mayowa on the edge and Al Woods along the interior, plus core talent like defensive tackle Poona Ford. Last year’s second-round pick Darrell Taylor remains a question mark, though, since he has yet to play an NFL snap.
Plus, you can never have too much of a good thing in the NFL – especially if that good thing is a pass rusher, and that pass rusher is playing under a cheap rookie deal.
Make the case for drafting: CB
This position group is one of Seattle’s greatest question marks on defense. There’s plenty of talent, but few consistent starting reps outside of Tre Flowers, who was a two-year starter opposite Shaquill Griffin, and newly-signed veteran Pierre Desir, who was a starter with the Colts from 2018-19.
There’s also the issue of team control. Just one Seahawks cornerback is under contract beyond this season: nickel corner Ugo Amadi. TRe Flowers, D.J. Reed, Ryan Neal, Gavin Heslop, Damarious Randall, Jordan Miller, and free agent acquisitions Ahkello Witherspoon and Desir are all set to become unrestricted free agents in 2022.
Is there a chance one of these players has a breakout season and secures a new deal? Absolutely. But rolling the dice on a rookie from this year’s draft sure wouldn’t hurt.
Making the case for drafting: S
I’ll preface it by saying this: The Seahawks have a ton of capital invested in the safety position and will spend the offseason finding a place for former second-round pick Marquise Blair, so the idea of spending one of just three draft picks on a safety reads as a bad investment, particularly with holes at other positions.
That said, if there’s one thing Schneider and Carroll made clear with their selection of Jordyn Brooks in 2020 it’s this: overall fit and potential carries more weight than need alone.
Put more simply, they draft players they feel are Seahawks. If that player is a safety, they could always pull the trigger. Of course, following a pick like that, the immediate question concerns the futures of either Jamal Adams, Quandre Diggs, or Blair.
Make the case for drafting: LB
Seattle has a few options already on the roster. With Bobby Wagner at middle linebacker and Jordyn Brooks at weakside linebacker (with the thought being that he could take over at middle linebacker if needed), there’s really only a competition at SAM.
If Seattle feels good about Amadi and Blair, they may play nickel defense more often. Third-round pick Cody Barton is the likely starter here, though don’t be surprised to see an edge rusher like Darrell Taylor in that spot. It’s a group that feels set for the season, even without K.J. Wright.
Using the first of three picks on this spot feels like a stretch, but adding some late-round special teams help wouldn’t hurt.
Making the case for: trading back
Seattle’s three selections are the fewest ever under Schneider, and he has always been a general manager who seeks more bites at the apple. Considering the possibility of draft misses – which happen every year to every team – why not roll the dice once, twice, or thrice more? Seattle is no stranger to late-round gems.