Seahawks Draft: UNC QB Sam Howell could be intriguing on Day 2

Apr 24, 2022, 9:22 AM
Seahawks draft Sam Howell...
North Carolina QB Sam Howell reacts as he runs for a touchdown against Miami on Oct. 16, 2021. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Speculation about the Seahawks taking a quarterback in the NFL Draft next week has been rampant since the team traded Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos last month, but three specific QBs have generally been the focus when it comes up.

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“Every time we have a conversation about quarterbacks, we have almost exclusively talked about Desmond Ritter, Matt Corral and Malik Willis,” Stacy Rost of Seattle Sports Station’s Jake and Stacy said Thursday.

But they aren’t the only quarterbacks the Seahawks could take in the top three rounds, and Rost mentioned that some Seahawks fans repeatedly bring up another name on the text line when QBs in the draft are discussed. Rost’s co-host, former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps, also finds that fourth QB to be an intriguing prospect.

Sam Howell of North Carolina is that player, and Heaps believes the Seahawks could be interested in taking him on Day 2 after his draft stock has slipped.

“This is a guy that is a great, solid leader,” Heaps said, “is somebody that I think pushes the ball down the field extremely well, may arguably have one of the best deep balls in terms of accuracy in this draft, and I think that he is somebody that has flown under the radar. He started the year as one of the hot quarterbacks and was mocked to be anywhere in the top three of this quarterback draft but has fallen due to the lack of production.”

The 6-foot-1, 218-pound Howell had a big sophomore season in 2020, completing 68.1% of his passing attempts for 3,586 yards, 30 touchdowns to seven interceptions, and 10.3 yards per attempt in 12 games. His numbers dipped last year, however, to 62.5% completions, 3,056 yards, 24 TDs to nine picks, and 9.0 yards per attempt.

Heaps explained that Howell had to shoulder more of the load as a junior for the Tar Heels after key departures, and his stats suffered.

“The reason why Sam Howell is not being talked about as much is that this last year before he came out (for the draft) was a down year for him,” Heaps said. “Now, there were a lot of things that were going on around him that weren’t the same as the couple of years before. All of their star talent pretty much left and it was basically Sam Howell having to play superhero all season long this past past year.”

Heaps sees that as a potential opportunity for the Seahawks.

“I think that Sam Howell is somebody that a lot of people have really simmered on. I could see the Seattle Seahawks really taking interest in (Howell) and falling in love with his personality and his traits and what he could bring to the table.”

Heaps, who is also a private quarterback coach, has crossed paths with Howell. But in addition to his personal experiences, he said watching Howell’s tape has opened his eyes further to how he could be a fit in Seattle.

“I’ve been able to be around him at the Elite 11 (quarterback competition) coming out of high school and also (Howell) coming back as a college counselor, having time to talk with him and hang out with him and watch him throw quite a bit,” Heaps said. “He’s not somebody that jumps off the page in terms of his arm strength but he reminds me a lot of Drew Brees. He’s got some Drew Brees traits to him – size, throwing ability, those types of things.

“One of the things that I’ve been impressed with him that I did not see in my time with him is how much of a gamer he actually is, how much he can get outside the pocket and create. And that’s an element that I know is mandatory for the Seattle Seahawks. They want to see guys that are gritty, that can make plays, can extend plays with their legs, and I think Sam Howell can fit that bill. I don’t know if Sam Howell goes that high (in the draft) – maybe third round – but I do think that he could be an underrated quarterback that the Seattle Seahawks are definitely paying attention to.”

You can hear Heaps’ full discussion with Rost in the Four-Down Territory segment of the podcast at this link or in the player below.

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