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NFL Draft analyst Lance Zierlein: How Seahawks may approach QB

Mar 20, 2022, 7:40 PM
Seahawks Malik Willis...
Malik Willis of the Liberty Flames warms up before the game against the Old Dominion Monarchs. (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
(Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

For the first time in a decade, the Seahawks will have a new starting quarterback.

Would QB Baker Mayfield be a good fit for the Seahawks?

Russell Wilson is now a member of the Denver Broncos while the Seahawks have just Drew Lock and Jacob Eason as signal callers on the current roster. There’s a possibility the Seahawks reunite with free agent Geno Smith, Wilson’s backup the last three years who filled in for four games in 2021, but what about the draft?

For the first time since 2010, the Seahawks have a top 10 pick as they hold the No. 9 selection after the trade with Denver. Could they use that on their next franchise quarterback? Or could they target someone with one of their three picks on Day 2 (rounds 2 and 3)?

NFL.com draft expert Lance Zierlein joined Seattle Sports’ Mike Salk Show on Wednesday and broke down what Seahawks fans need to know about this year’s quarterback class.

Is QB in play for the Seahawks at No. 9?

“I think at 9, the first question you ask is how do the Seattle Seahawks grade the quarterbacks in this draft?” Zierlein said. “Do they grade (Liberty’s) Malik Willis as a future franchise quarterback? Because at No. 9, you probably need to have a guy that you think is a franchise quarterback. You’re probably not going to get Russell Wilson. The odds are you’re not going to get that same type of player. But you want somebody who’s in the zip code, at least.

“So how do you view (Pittsburgh’s) Kenny Pickett? How do you view (Ole Miss’) Matt Corral and those guys? Because that might be a trade back (situation) or even a second-round selection. I think that’s the first question you have to ask.”

Is Willis a franchise guy?

Many draft analysts, including Zierlein, think this is a down year as far as top quarterback prospects go.

Many view Willis as the top QB of this class, and in Zierlein’s March 8 mock draft for NFL.com, he had the Seahawks taking the Liberty product with the No. 9 pick as the first QB off the board.

While Zierlein currently has the Seahawks going with Willis ninth overall, he has some reservations about him being a long-term franchise quarterback.

“I think the tape is just too raggedy this year. I think the decision making is just not there to take (him with) the ninth pick when you’re a team like Seattle,” he said. “It’s one thing for the Pittsburgh Steelers to take a shot (later) in the draft at No. 20. It’s another thing for a team that we just set up the fact that you’re devoid of a lot of core players … and you need to find core players … You can’t really swing and miss on a quarterback that high if you don’t believe in him.”

Zierlein said Willis has very high upside but a “low, low floor.”

“The problem is, from a positive standpoint, he’s going to get you explosive plays with his legs worst-case scenario,” he said.

“Best-case scenario, he develops as a passer and he turns into a dual-threat star. I think the concern you have is that with dual-threat quarterbacks, you want them to be more dominant in in college like Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson. You’re coming off of a season where there’s nobody who could have watched Malik Willis play and say, ‘Boy, that guy really looked good this year.’ It’s not possible. So coming off of that at a school at Liberty, no less, that did not play the toughest schedule in the world, I think that’s a concern.”

Zierlein later added: “I would be surprised if they’re willing to bet on a guy that they don’t feel really comfortable with. But if they feel comfortable with the upside, yeah, I think it’s totally possible they draft him at 9. But I also think that letting Drew Lock have a year and just kind of see what he’s about, I don’t think that’s the worst idea as well, and then wait until you get into a better quarterback class, which next year’s should be.”

QB next year vs this year

Speaking of next year’s class, who’s the guy that the Seahawks may be looking ahead to?

“I think the big name that everyone’s gonna focus on, and I think rightfully so, is Bryce Young if he comes out from Alabama,” Zierlein said.

Young won the Heisman for Alabama last season and led the Crimson Tide to the national championship in his first season as a starter. Young completed roughly 67% of his passes for 4,872 yards and 47 touchdowns to seven interceptions.

“That’s probably going to be the guy that is going to be at the top of the food chain, more than likely,” Zierlein said. “So if you have a top 10 (pick), if you have Denver’s pick and your pick, you do have some ammunition to potentially make a move and move up. I think Seattle based on the division they’re in and based on what the roster construct is now, I think a top six pick is definitely likely for Seattle. I think no matter what Pete or John Schneider do, I think it’s going to be a difficult year coming up.”

Because of that, Zierlein said the Seahawks may be in a better position to land their franchise quarterback in the 2023 draft instead of this year. He said that might be the smarter play unless Seattle wants to draft someone in the second round.

“Maybe (Cincinnati’s) Desmond Ridder or Matt Corral,” he said. “Then all of a sudden, we might take a look at quarterback in the second round. But at No. 9 it’s a little dicey.”

Listen to the full interview with Zierlein at this link or in the player below.

More on Seahawks QB search from SeattleSports.com

What do the Seahawks see in Drew Lock?
Pete Carroll, John Schneider address QB options
Jake Heaps: Hawks reached out to Deshaun Watson, who wasn’t interested
Mike Lefko: Drafting QB Malik Willis at No. 9 would explain Wilson trade
Mike Salk: Five options to be Seattle’s next starting QB

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