Salk: Two simple Seahawks NFL Draft scenarios for first two rounds
On April 28, the Seahawks will take the next step in the process they started on March 8 when they dealt Russell Wilson to Denver. To trade a player of his stature is an obvious risk but it could pay enormous rewards if they are able to accomplish two herculean tasks.
First, they need to use all of their resources to build a roster full of impact talent at the most important positions. Then they’ll need to find his long-term successor. They probably won’t be able to accomplish all of that next weekend, but they can make enormous strides by following this very modest piece of advice:
Keep it simple.
Don’t out-think the room. There is no need. And there is a very real possibility that this draft board could break their way.
With that in mind, here is what the Seahawks should do in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft.
• Take a pass rusher with the ninth overall pick. No position other than quarterback can impact the modern game as much or as often as a premier pass rusher. While interior game-wreckers like Aaron Donald are the best options, they don’t exactly grow on trees and are especially scarce in this draft. So take Jermaine Johnson II out of Florida State and create a legitimate tandem with Darrell Taylor that can haunt the quarterbacks that dare remain in the NFC.
Your 2021 ACC Defensive Player of the Year @ii_jermaine #NoleFamily | #KeepCLIMBing pic.twitter.com/6JyazYXKk8
— FSU Football (@FSUFootball) December 1, 2021
I like that Johnson bet on himself when he transferred from Georgia, and it paid off in spades. He got more playing time at FSU and turned it into 70 tackles, 18 tackles for losses and 12 sacks in 12 games. Those are the impact plays the Seahawks’ defense needs from a player that is known as a hard worker. I’m sold.
• Now that you have your cornerstone, you can afford to take a risk in the second round. It’s time to take a quarterback. Yes, this is a weak QB class. No, drafting a QB in the second round this year does not preclude you from pouncing on the next opportunity that presents itself. And yes, there are a few good options that may very well be available at No. 40, the first of back-to-back picks in the second round for Seattle.
I have been going back and forth between Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder and Mississippi’s Matt Corral, mostly favoring Corral because of his quick release. But this sentence from Dane Brugler’s Draft Guide might have brought me back over to Ridder: “A mobile athlete, Ridder moves well in the pocket and possesses the arm and poise to drive the ball to every level of the field. He has experience making whole-field reads and working his progressions, but ability to quicken his eyes and trigger vs. NFL speed will be the key to whether or not he finds sustained success at the next level.”
In fact, read Brugler’s entire blurb on Ridder. He just sounds like Russ 2.0. I could be convinced to go with Corral and I believe both guys could be successful in the NFL. But if I’m keeping it simple, I’m giving Ridder the shot. The guy did nothing but win in college (43-6, 26-0 at home) and did it with an NFL skillset that mimics the most successful QB in Seahawks franchise history. Sold. And if it doesn’t work out, the commitment to a second-round pick isn’t strong enough to prevent them from drafting a better option in 2023.
• In this scenario, I am probably looking to trade the 40th or 41st pick for a first-rounder next year. While I want a franchise tackle, the options likely to still be available at this point don’t excite me. This is a lousy class for defensive tackles so I wouldn’t reach for that position. I’d rather get three bites at the apple in next year’s first round.
If no one will deal, some options include a corner (how about Kyler Gordon out of UW if he’s available?) or a center (Nebraska’s Cam Jurgens has the athleticism to play in this scheme).
• Trade back. I know, this makes you mad. But hear me out. You don’t have to trade back far, just a spot or two, because the player that fits best is Northern Iowa tackle Trevor Penning and you can likely snag him a little farther down the board.
I love Penning. He’s got the prototypical length for Shane Waldron’s system (6 foot 7) and he was described by ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller as the nastiest, most violent player in this draft at any position. Charles Cross (Mississippi State) will likely be rated higher but he comes from an Air Raid system and this draft is an opportunity for the Seahawks to build the type of team they say they want. I’d prefer the larger, nastier player.
TREVOR PENNING. NOT NICE.@TPenning58 | @UNIFootball | @seniorbowl
📺: #NFLCombine on @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/iXyqaVfpHk
— NFL (@NFL) March 4, 2022
You simply can’t function in the modern NFL without a quality offensive line and the Seahawks have struggled to find stalwarts at the position. This is their chance.
• A QB at No. 40. See above.
• At No. 41, with the left tackle spot handled and a gamble on a quarterback, it’s time to add that partner for Darrell Taylor. And unlike offensive tackle, there are plenty of great options available in the second round to play the edge. My two favorites are Michigan’s David Ojabo and Minnesota’s Boye Mafe. Both are physical, explosive players who are currently relying more on natural ability than a refined technique. That fits the needs of a Seahawks defense that may take a year or two to hit its stride. They can afford to wait for playmakers.
You could make a case for Oklahoma’s Nik Bonitto as well but I get a little nervous with Big 12 defensive players. If pressed, I’ll choose Ojabo.
See? That wasn’t that hard. Two scenarios that maximize the Seahawks needs, keeps them from making a disastrous choice, adds players that play impactful positions, and sets this team up for their next championship run.
Yeah. The draft is easy.
Oh, you probably want me to choose which scenario I prefer. Honestly, I like both pretty equally. The first gives you the best overall player, the second maximizes your three picks better. I’ll take Scenario 1 if you think you can actually deal No. 40 for a 2023 first-rounder. Otherwise, I’ll go with Scenario 2.
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