STACY ROST

Rost’s Seahawks Takeaways: Jamal Adams key in how this draft class is viewed

May 4, 2021, 8:55 AM
Seahawks S Jamal Adams...
The Seahawks used two high 2021 draft picks to acquire All-Pro safety Jamal Adams. (AP)
(AP)

You won’t have to look hard or for very long to find a poor grade on the Seahawks’ 2021 draft class – to which most Seahawks fans might fairly reply, “What’s new?” – but one of the biggest critiques is also a fair one.

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In Seattle’s defense, it would be hard for any class with just three selections to impress critics, particularly when none of them is named Kyle Pitts, and when the highest-drafted member of that trio is a mid-second round pick. But a more flattering grade will depend on the development on one key pick.

Here are three post-draft takeaways:

This offense needed another WR

You didn’t need comments from Russell Wilson to let you know the Seahawks needed help on the interior of their offensive line. The retirement of veteran left guard Mike Iupati and expiring contract of center Ethan Pocic was indication enough that Seattle would need to make at least one move. The team ended up making two; they re-signed Pocic and used one of just four remaining available draft picks (a fifth-rounder) to acquire veteran guard Gabe Jackson in a trade with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Still, the Seahawks were knocked for taking a wide receiver rather than a lineman with their first selection.

When the Seahawks were on the clock at No. 56 overall, there were several intriguing OL prospects available. That includes Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey, whom the Kansas City Chiefs selected just seven picks later at No. 63 overall. Seattle instead went with Western Michigan’s D’Wayne Eskridge. It was a choice between two needs, and whether it was the right one will become clear in due time. But for now, it would be a mistake to think a player with Eskridge’s skillset can’t help the Seahawks’ offense.

Eskridge immediately becomes one of the fastest players on Seattle’s offense and provides a versatile option for new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron. His addition also provides much-needed depth behind DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. While those two amassed a pair of impressive 1,000-yard seasons, the next-closest receiver still on the roster for 2021 finished with just 159 yards.

No cornerback’s job is safe

Oklahoma’s Tre Brown may not have the height and arm length of a prototypical Seahawks cornerback, but Pete Carroll and John Schneider made it clear he was drafted with the thought in mind that he’d be competing on the outside, not the slot. He’ll find himself in the thick of competition in training camp, where for now it appears both starting cornerback jobs are up for grabs.

Alex Grinch, defensive coordinator at Oklahoma, said Brown brings a rare combination of speed and physicality.

“So much of what we did here was put him in one-on-one single coverage situations,” Grinch said during an interview with Jake and Stacy on Monday. “He’s a physical football player. Sometimes when you’re pegged as a speed guy it doesn’t always come with the physical element of things. But you’ll see that in coverage as well as in the run game. So, I think those are two feathers in his cap.”

Adams will have the biggest impact on any draft grade for this class

His name wasn’t called last weekend but make no mistake: Jamal Adams accounts for the biggest portion of this year’s draft haul.

Pete Carroll said it himself ahead of Thursday’s first round.

“I would say, about the draft, our No. 1 pick is Jamal Adams. And that’s a heck of a pick.”

That was in an interview with reporters on Wednesday, but the sentiment will be revisited over the next two seasons, and the success of this draft will in large part depend on what Adams’ career in Seattle becomes.

With no first-round or third-round picks in 2021, and no first-rounder in 2022, the Seahawks need Adams to be the All-Pro player he was when they made the biggest acquisition yet under Schneider and Carroll.

His impact on the pass rush was immediate and obvious; Adams set a new NFL record for most sacks in a single season by a defensive back (9.5), breaking a previous record that had stood for over a decade. But with that much draft capital surrendered, the Seahawks need a defense that sits near the top of the league, and they need Adams to be a big part of it.

Further, they need Adams to be here long-term, which means reaching an agreement on a contract extension over the next few months. Players of Adams’ caliber are rare, and if he can reach that potential regularly over the next several years, the Seahawks will have made their most successful first-round pick yet.

If Adams falters or isn’t signed long-term any “A” grade feels, very fairly, unattainable.

Follow Stacy Rost on Twitter.

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