Heaps: The players Seahawks must draft if available at No. 9

Apr 25, 2022, 3:58 PM

Seahawks draft Sauce Gardner...

Cincinnati CB Ahmad Gardner reacts after an interception against Murray State on Sept. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

(AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

With the NFL Draft on Thursday, we’re closing in on the Seattle Seahawks making their highest selection in over a decade.

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We’ve been through a host of different options the Seahawks could have when they’re on the clock in the first round Thursday at No. 9 overall, but there’s another scenario to explore that Seattle Sports’ Jake and Stacy covered on Monday afternoon.

Which players, if they’re still available, would be no-brainer picks for the Seahawks at No. 9? Stacy Rost asked her co-host, former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps, that question, and he had three different ways of looking at it.

First up is Evan Neal, an offensive tackle from Alabama.

“If Evan Neal falls to pick nine,” Heaps said, “just write the name down, sign it in. Whoever’s making that pick, run to the podium and announce that pick and feel very, very good about yourself.”

For more on Neal, read this profile here from Rost.

Where Heaps feels particularly passionate about one player, however, is at cornerback. Both Cincinnati’s Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. have come up as possible fits for Seattle, but Heaps would be over the moon if Gardner was an option for the Hawks at No. 9.

“The more and more I look at Derek Stingley Jr. and Sauce Gardner, the more and more I really start to lean towards Sauce Gardner and fall in love with his traits,” Heaps said. “The thing that stands out to me more than anything else is your best ability is your availability. There is no one in this draft that has been given the opportunity to play press man-to-man coverage and be left on an island quite like Sauce Gardner was afforded that opportunity at Cincinnati. He dominated, got better every single year.

“To me, with the way the Seahawks want to play, Sauce Gardner if he’s available at nine, holy smokes, that’s awesome. I think it would be a home run get and it would be an opportunity to really change the complexion of your defense.”

The third scenario is also on defense, and it’s a different kind of situation than the other two.

“The last one, it has to be a 1A/1B situation,” Heaps said. “If any of the top-tier pass rushers are left available – Travon Walker, Jermaine Johnson, Kayvon Thibodeaux – you have to select them.”

The catch is how unlikely it is that Walker, from Georgia, will make it to No. 9 undrafted. Florida State’s Johnson and Oregon’s Thibodeaux, meanwhile, may be the most likely of any of these players to land with the Seahawks.

“I would be shocked if Travon Walker ends up sliding out of the top five. I believe it probably has more of a chance to be Kayvon Thibodeaux or Jermaine Johnson that you could possibly select at nine,” Heaps said.

You can listen to the full conversation in the Four Down Territory segment of Monday’s Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.

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Heaps: The players Seahawks must draft if available at No. 9