Seahawks Draft Primer: Everything you need to know about Seattle, top prospects
The Seahawks are on the board at No. 9 on Thursday’s draft and are set to make their highest pick since 2010. Or will they? Don’t rule out a trade back for Seattle, especially with an unpredictable class and so many holes to fill.
If they do make their selection, though, which player might be the best fit?
That, and more, in a quick 2022 Seahawks draft primer:
Word of the day: Volatile
(Noun) Liability to change rapidly and unpredictably, especially for the worse.
It won’t be changing for the worse – there’s plenty of exciting talent in this year’s class – but the 2022 draft is certainly hard to predict.
Before the Jacksonville Jaguars owned the top overall pick of the 2021 draft, every analyst and fan knew who was being chosen: Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. The Arizona Cardinals had a first-round quarterback already on the roster ahead of the 2019 draft and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray was still expected to be the first player off the board.
There’s no unanimous first-overall projection Thursday, though most mocks have Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson at pick No. 1, followed by Georgia’s Travon Walker (worth mentioning, Peter King’s Football Morning in America has Walker at No. 1). Some other projections vary wildly; Liberty quarterback Malik Willis has been mocked as high as No. 2 to Detroit and as low as the second round; others have Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett going to one of the quarterback-needy teams in the top-10. At one point Alabama left tackle Evan Neal was projected as a top-3 pick, but he could fall to Seattle at nine.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that there are rumors of more-than-typical movement in the first round.
Within the past week, as the draft has drawn closer, multiple teams in the top half of the draft have inquired with others to try to trade back in the first round, per sources. So far, the interest in moving back in Thursday’s draft has greatly exceeded the interest in moving up.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 25, 2022
“You know what happens when you have this kind of volatility? Nobody wants to make a pick,” ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio said during an interview on Jake and Stacy when asked about the unpredictability of this year’s class. “It’s like, ‘We’ve got three things we love about this guy and nine things we hate, and we’ve got to try to get out’ (of the first round). And then teams are stuck and they can’t move… so absolutely, (it makes sense that there are) a lot of rumors about teams trying to move out.”
If talk of a volatile first round makes you nervous, know that there’s plenty reason to be excited about these prospects – and know that not every analyst sees it that way.
Rob Staton, author of SeahawksDraftBlog, joined Jake and Stacy Monday to talk about just that.
“I think (the volatility) is a bit overhyped to be honest,” Staton said. “I think we kind of know really, generally what’s going to happen here: that teams are going to focus on the defensive linemen and the offensive linemen. And why is that? It’s simple. There are no quarterbacks at the top of this draft worth taking in the top 10. So we are going to see teams just revert to what they feel are the premium positions. What is that? It’s pass rush, it’s offensive tackle, it’s cornerback. And I think that’s the direction that these teams are going to go.”
Top draft day stories
Will any top prospects fall to nine?
Hutchinson and Walker will be off the board early, but there’s a chance a few other top prospects will slip. Key among those names are Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal, edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon), and cornerbacks Derek Stingley Jr. (LSU) and Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner (Cincinnati).
Here’s what makes these four interesting: there’s a chance all are off the board by nine (like Staton noted, these are the premier positions in this year’s class). But there’s also a chance one or more are available for Seattle. In fact, Neal and Stingley are two of the most common names mocked to the Seahawks. Neal will see competing interest for Mississippi State’s Charles Cross and North Carolina State’s Ikem Ekwonu, while Stingley – for all the talent he possesses – could worry teams with his limited playing time. Or, perhaps his talent is intriguing enough, and instead it’s Gardner who finds himself as the second corner selected.
Does Seattle trade back… into the first round?
In news that won’t shock you, general manager John Schneider hasn’t ruled out trading back from No. 9. Trading back in the first round, or out of the first round completely, isn’t new territory for Seattle. Trading back into the first round, though? That would be a first under Schneider and Pete Carroll.
Here are two potential scenarios:
The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia predicts Seattle will trade back from No. 9 in a swap with the Philadelphia Eagles (he’s got them acquiring Andre Dillard in the trade) and instead try to snag a pass rusher like Georgia’s Jermaine Johnson II. He could also see them trading back from 15 in a swap with the Packers (who own the 22nd overall pick).
— Mike Salk, Seattle Sports Station (@TheMikeSalk) April 25, 2022
Meanwhile, NFL Network’s Peter Shrager has an interesting proposal: the Seahawks select a tackle at nine… and then trade back into the late first round to get their quarterback of the future (in this case, Ole Miss star Matt Corral). It would be the first time Schneider and Carroll traded up into the first round.
Will the Seahawks make a surprise pick?
Far be it from the Seahawks to do what you’re expecting them to do.
Seattle selected Jordyn Brooks in the first round two years ago, despite having Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright under contract, at a time when many expected them to go after an edge rusher (the Seahawks were coming off a season in which they finished second-to-last in team sacks).
Seattle needs an offensive tackle, an outside cornerback, and could always use a pass rusher. What are the odds they don’t address any of those spots at nine overall? Might they surprise by taking a linebacker again? Utah’s Devin Lloyd would be the likely pick there. And while the very last position they need is safety, Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton might be one of the best players in the draft. This one is a long shot, but is his potential tempting enough for Carroll’s revamped defense? I mention these two names not because I think Seattle will go there, but because of the uneasiness it’s leaving you with. Isn’t the draft fun?
Give me names!
My co-host Jake Heaps previewed a number of his top prospects and best fits for Seattle, by position. Here’s a quick list with links to the full scouting report and podcast. (Of note: Not all picks are projected at No. 9):
A trio of first-round offensive linemen: Evan Neal (Alabama), G Zion Johnson (Boston College), T Trevor Penning (Northern Iowa)
Day 2 linebackers: Channing Tindall (Georgia), Leo Chenal (Wisconsin), Troy Andersen (Montana State)
A maybe-quarterback-of-the-future selection: Matt Corral (Ole Miss), Desmond Ridder (Cincinatti)
The two best cornerbacks: Derek Stingley Jr. (LSU) and Ahmad Gardner (Cincinnati)
Michael Bumpus’ wide receivers: Drake London (USC), Garrett Wilson (Ohio State), Jamison Williams (Alabama)
A four-pack of running backs on Day 2: Breece Hall (Iowa State), Kenneth Walker (Michigan State), Dameon Pierce (Florida), Tyler Allgeier (BYU)
Two top edge rushers: Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon), Jermaine Johnson II (Florida State)