The Seahawks Draft Breakdown: Close look at all 9 Seattle picks

Apr 30, 2022, 3:18 PM | Updated: 7:23 pm

In the biggest NFL Draft for the Seahawks in a decade, and their first since moving on from franchise quarterback Russell Wilson, there was a pretty clear message sent with their early picks.

Seahawks UDFA Tracker

“I think that three of the four picks really make a statement about the emphasis of what we would like to get done,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said Friday night after the team had concluded the first three rounds of the draft.

The three picks Carroll was referring to: first-round selection Charles Cross, an offensive tackle from Mississippi State, second-round running back Kenneth Walker III from Michigan State, and third-round offensive tackle Abraham Lucas from Washington State.

Yep, a pretty clear message there – the Seahawks are once again emphasizing their run game.

“It rings true,” Carroll continued. “We want to run the football, we want to be good at it, and we want it to complement the football with the way we approach it. This was an opportunity to do it and it just felt right, so these guys will come in blazing, and I think that it sets the tone for camp coming up.”

That was just the start of a big weekend for the Seahawks, who entered the 2022 draft with eight picks and – surprise! – only traded down once, adding a ninth pick. Seattle’s other picks had a similar theme of getting back to Carroll’s basics, as the Hawks found cornerbacks and edge rushers that have the familiar physicality preferred by the head coach on defense.

As we do after every Seahawks draft, we’re breaking down every selection Seattle made along with video highlights and links to related stories below. Let’s get to it.

First round (9): Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

Details: 6-5, 307 pounds, redshirt sophomore, 21 years old | draft profile

A first-team All-SEC tackle, Cross was at least in the conversation to be considered the top pass protector in the draft. Now he appears to be the future at left tackle in Seattle.

The Seahawks felt fortunate that Cross, the third offensive lineman off the board this year, was still available when their first turn at No. 9 overall (a pick they acquired in the Wilson trade with Denver) came around.

“We stayed right there at nine and we feel really blessed,” Seahawks general manager John Schneider said Thursday night. “We feel like he fell to us, and I think you’re going to love this guy. … He’s a phenomenal pass protector, former basketball player – and was a really good basketball player, as well – so he’s made that transition.”

Concerns about Cross’ ability in the run game have been voiced, but Schneider said that’s primarily because he played in Mississippi State coach Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense where running the ball is very much an afterthought.

“You probably heard over the last two days or the last seven months about the run game stuff, but we feel like he is a really good athlete, is going to be able to run his feet, bend, and he can really move in space,” Schneider said. “It was really kind of a scheme deal that they had there with Coach Leach where they threw the ball like crazy, and he did a phenomenal job. He did a great job against top, top competition playing in the SEC. He had a really nice game against Alabama, and we are just really excited that we have a pillar at left tackle.”

Further reading

Seahawks keep No. 9 pick, select Cross
Huard: Charles Cross a lot like Duane Brown
Mike Leach, Mississippi State coach, details Cross
Cross: “I bring great toughness and nastiness”

Second round (40): Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota

Details: 6-4, 261 pounds, redshirt senior, 23 years old | draft profile

In the only selection among Seattle’s first four picks that didn’t benefit the run game, the Seahawks addressed another important need: pass rush.

Mafe is no stranger to getting into the backfield and taking down the quarterback, registering seven sacks in 2021 and 15 total over four seasons for Minnesota.

Carroll, however, said that versatility is something else that jumps out about Mafe.

He’s a very versatile football player, he’s a fantastic athlete with the speed and size that he brings, he can work on the edge as a pass rusher – which is the first thing we would like to see him excel at – but he’s been a guy that has been in coverage and dropped, too,” Carroll said.

Oh, but he likes how Mafe can get in a QB’s face, too.

I like him, particularly, coming forward and getting after the quarterback, which we would like to emphasize as we get started,” he said, “but he’ll be an outside backer in the system and an outside rusher in the 4-3 stuff, so he will get a really good chance to see where he fits in with that.”

Further reading

Seahawks add Minnesota pass rusher Boye Mafe at No. 40
NFL Draft Reaction: Seahawks insiders on trio of Day 2 picks

Second round (41): Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State

Details: 5-9, 211 pounds, junior, 21 years old | draft profile

Walker may be the Seahawks pick that has created the most passionate reactions from this draft. On the one hand, there are always the concerns about positional value when a running back is taken in the high rounds. On the other hand, Walker was the Doak Walker Award winner as 2021’s top RB and a player our own Brock Huard, who is also a FOX Sports college football color commentator, had hoped Seattle would select in the second round.

“I’m telling you right now, if Kenneth Walker is sitting there at 40 or 41, sign me up,” Huard said Thursday night on the Seattle Sports Seahawks Draft Show. “… Kenneth Walker is nasty, man.”

The Seahawks clearly agreed, staying put with their second of back-to-back picks in Friday’s second round to take him.

Walker rushed for 1,636 yards and 18 touchdowns on 263 attempts (6.2 yards per carry) last year, and he did so in a system that the Seahawks think will translate well to the pro game.

“They had an NFL-style running game (at Michigan State) and they did a little bit of everything, so you are able to see him run zone schemes, run gap scheme principles, and he’s really effective in the counter game,” Carroll said. “It was a really good illustration of a guy being able to blossom with a variety of the run game, so it makes sense to us how he really could fit in.”

Schneider added that the Seahawks feel Walker was “inderutilized in the receiving game,” where he had 13 receptions for 89 yards and a TD in 2021.

“The guy can catch the ball and be really productive,” Schneider said.

Further reading

Seahawks bolster RB depth with Kenneth Walker III at No. 41
NFL Draft Reaction: Seahawks insiders on trio of Day 2 picks

Third round (72): Abraham Lucas, OT, WSU

Details: 6-6, 315 pounds, redshirt senior, 23 years old | draft profile

Two things jump out about Lucas to local fans. First, he’s an Everett native who starred at Archbishop Murphy in high school before joining the Cougs in Pullman. And second, like first-round pick Cross, he’s a tackle who played in Mike Leach’s Air Raid before Leach left Wazzu for Missisippi State.

They will be able to speak the same language,” Schneider said about Lucas and Cross. “They were coached by the same guy.”

That’s not all Seattle’s two rookie tackles have in common, either.

“Both these guys (Cross and Lucas) run under 5-flat (40-yard dash times),” Carroll said. “They’re 4.9 guys at 320-something or 318 (pounds) or whatever it is. These guys can move their feet. They don’t call them sweet feet for nothing. Both guys are very athletic. We’ve never been this athletic with two guys with a shot to start so it’s exciting to see how that translates.”

Lucas is said to have a mean streak, which can certainly be an asset on the O-line.

“Abe is a finisher,” Schneider said. “He’s a real strong man of faith, but he doesn’t look like it when he’s playing football. The guy is a big finisher in the run game.”

Further reading

Seahawks take standout WSU OT Abraham Lucas
NFL Draft Reaction: Seahawks insiders on trio of Day 2 picks

Fourth round (109): Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati

Details: 6-1, 193 pounds, senior, 23 years old | draft profile

How about a little mamba mentality for the secondary?

Yes, the newest Seahawks cornerback is really named Coby Bryant, and even if he spells his first name differently, he appears to have a little bit of the legendary dedication as a ball-hawking defensive back that his Hall of Fame namesake had in the NBA.

“Not really pressure, but more of a privilege, honestly,” Bryant said about sharing a name with an all-time great athlete. “That just means that I have to work twice as hard to live up to that name and set a name for myself too, but most importantly represent him as well as I can.”

He’s represented pretty well, winning the 2021 Jim Thorpe Award as the best DB in the country. And that’s certainly notable considering he played on the opposite side of the defense from fellow Cincinnati corner Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, who was selected fourth overall in the first round by the Jets on Thursday.

Bryant picked off 10 passes over his college career, including three last year, and added 11 passes defensed in 2021 alone.

“I would definitely say that I’m a physical corner as well as high football IQ,” Bryant said. “Then, most importantly, I feel like I make a lot of plays on the ball, so I would say that my ball skills are the best in the draft.”

Further reading

Seahawks add to secondary with Cincy CB Coby Bryant

Fifth round (153): Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA

Details: 6-4, 205 pounds, redshirt senior, 22 years old | draft profile

If any one pick of this draft can be called a true “Seahawks” pick, Woolen is it.

He’s a long cornerback who started his career at the University of Texas at San Antonio as a wide receiver, meaning he drew immediate comparisons to former Seahawks great Richard Sherman, who Seattle also took in the fifth round back in 2011.

There’s a difference, though – Woolen is a little taller than the 6-3 Sherman, and faster. In fact, not many players, regardless of height, can claim to have run a 40-yard dash in 4.26 seconds like Woolen did at the combine.

The question about Woolen is whether he can develop into a starting-caliber cornerback in the NFL, as he’s still pretty raw having just two seasons at the position with the Roadrunners.

“He’s long, he’s freakishly athletic and he’s extremely humble. He’s just as good a kid as he is a player,” UTSA coach Jeff Traylor said on the Seattle Sports Seahawks Draft Show on Saturday. “When we got there – we got hired in December 2019 – I think he had played receiver his entire career and they might have let him play the last game at corner. So we brought him in, we just asked him what he’d rather do. We didn’t have very many good corners and we had some pretty good receivers, so we moved him to corner. He’s only played 16 games the last two years because of injury so he’s only got 16 games of corner (experience), so I think his upside is tremendously, tremendously unlimited.”

Further reading

Hawks get long, speedy UTSA CB Tariq Woolen in fifth

Fifth round (158): Tyreke Smith, EDGE, Ohio State

Details: 6-3, 254 pounds, senior, 22 years old | draft profile

Could Smith be this year’s version of Alton Robinson? The Seahawks grabbed Robinson in the fifth round of the 2020 draft, and he quickly became a contributor on Seattle’s defensive line, making four sacks as a rookie and continuing to be reliable in the rotation last year. Smith could be a similar case of a less-heralded lineman who comes in ready to play for Seattle.

“He is relentless,” former Seahawks wide receiver Michael Bumpus said on the Seattle Sports Seahawks Draft Show after watching some of Smith’s highlights.

Smith comes to Seattle having been a reliable member of the Ohio State pass rush, and that means he’s done a lot of winning. The Buckeyes won three Big Ten titles, played in two College Football Playoffs and reached the national championship game while Smith was a member of the team.

Statistically, Smith had three sacks, 26 total tackles, two passes defensed and a forced fumble in 2021, earning an All-Big Ten second team nomination.

“I feel like I can fit in great with the defense,” Smith said in a conference call Saturday with local media. “… What I’m bringing from Ohio State, just my dominance, pass rushing ability, and my ability to set the edge and be a three-down player. My motor, how dominant I am, and my motor to the ball.”

Further reading

Seahawks pick Ohio State edge rusher Tyreke Smith in fifth

Seventh round (229): Bo Melton, WR, Rutgers

Details: 5-11, 189 pounds, senior, 22 years old | draft profile

The next Seahawks return star may be Melton, who ran a blistering 4.34 40-yard dash at the combine. And apparently fellow receiver Tyler Lockett, who was a Pro Bowler as a returner as a rookie, is excited to welcome Melton aboard.

Melton can be a weapon in the passing game, too. He had 55 catches for 618 yards and three scores last season, which is impressive considering Rutgers averaged just 171.5 passing yards per game.

Versatility was brought up a lot when Melton spoke to reporters on a conference call Saturday.

“I’m a very versatile player. I can be used everywhere,” he said. “I can be used on special teams, wherever they need for me to be used at. … In (Rutgers’) offense, I was used all over. I played in the slot and outside receiver as well.”

After the draft, Schneider spoke of Melton’s speed and strong reputation within the Scarlet Knights program.

“Bo Melton is, first of all, he’s an amazing kid,” he said. “I mean, he can fly… change of direction. Captain of the team. I mean, he’s just a great kid at Rutgers. They speak super highly of him there.”

Further reading

Seahawks end draft with 2 WRs in Bo Melton, Dareke Young

Seventh round (233): Dareke Young, WR, Lenoir-Rhyne

Details: 6-3, 220, senior, 22 years old | CBS Sports draft profile

With their final pick of the draft, the Seahawks fittingly went for the most unknown talent of their draft class in Young, who caught Seattle’s eye with how he tested during the scouting process as well as his physicality.

“Dareke is a guy that really showed up as a phenomenal tester in the spring,” Schneider said. “… He’s played in a wing T, and then they move to a spread, so you can see him actually coming downhill blocking people and he’s a physical guy. But the workout that he had for the scouts in the spring was incredibly impressive, and he tested off the charts.”

Young had 303 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 25 catches in five games last season for the NCAA Division II Lenoir-Rhyne Bears, who are based in Hickory, N.C. He also has experience playing running back from his sophomore and junior seasons, as well as special teams all five years in college.

Young told reporters Saturday that he is 100% healthy from an MCL sprain that limited him to the five games in 2021.

Further reading

Seahawks end draft with 2 WRs in Bo Melton, Dareke Young

Where UW Huskies, WSU Cougars landed in 2022 NFL Draft

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The Seahawks Draft Breakdown: Close look at all 9 Seattle picks