Salk: The Seahawks had good reason to pass on QBs in NFL Draft
The Seahawks had what appears to be a very good draft weekend.
They stuck to positions of great impact (plus a running back that has particular importance to them). They drafted players that were widely believed to be taken in the correct round. They found big fellas first and added smaller guys late. They added outside linebackers that fit into their new 3-4 defensive scheme and athletic tackles perfect for Shane Waldron’s offense. They got the draft “right.”
And yet, there were some who criticized.
“On Day 2, I thought there was a prime opportunity for the Seahawks to take quarterback Malik Willis and develop him into a future star,” wrote ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. “They ended up passing three times on Willis, which I suppose means they’re OK with Drew Lock and Geno Smith being just average in 2022. Carroll and Schneider must think the roster is farther along than I do.”
Later, he added: “There are several good prospects in this class, but it’s not quite an A because the quarterback issue could linger into 2023.”
This was not an isolated point of view. In fact, I would think most observers would wonder about the quarterback position and how the Seahawks plan to improve it.
But let’s address both of Mel’s points.
First, he suggests that the Seahawks passed on the available quarterbacks (including Willis) because of their confidence in the passers currently on the roster. While that isn’t impossible, the two thoughts don’t have to be linked. In fact, I would assume they passed on the prospects because they weren’t impressed with their NFL projections. That they didn’t want to tie themselves to quarterbacks in whom they did not believe.
Who can blame them?
This isn’t an “either/or” situation where the only options are Drew Lock, Geno Smith or a 2022 draft pick. The Seahawks may (and likely do) see other options. And yes, that could include Baker Mayfield, especially if he is released by the Browns and could be available for a very affordable price.
Second, Mel wonders if the quarterback issue could “linger” into 2023. Not only do I think it could, I think it will.
Look, it’s certainly possible that one of the current options takes the job and runs with it. It’s possible one of them turns into the franchise player the Jets and Broncos hoped they might be. It’s possible that by running the ball, playing good defense and putting the quarterback in the best position to succeed, the Seahawks can manage the game and improve on their historical performance.
But it’s more likely the Seahawks plan to kick this can down the road a year. The 2023 draft class is likely to have better options (one way-too-early mock projects five passers taken in the first round) and with two picks in the first round (plus two in the second), the Seahawks are poised to land one of them. In the meantime, they get to build up their roster, stockpile talent, and compete with a solid (if unspectacular) option under center.
It’s happened before.
After the 2010 season, the Seahawks made the decision to cut ties with franchise legend Matt Hasselbeck. It was time. And while they replaced him with a former starter and second-round pick in Tarvaris Jackson, it had a similar feeling of a being a bridge. Essentially, they declined to start the clock on replacing their legendary quarterback until they had identified real options and were ready to do so.
When Sheil Kapadia joined the show last week, he mentioned that he views the draft not as an isolated event, but as part of a process of building a team over time. You take multiple draft classes together to build a roster, all the while sprinkling in free agents and trades. You develop and coach up the players you have.
With that view in mind, the Seahawks decision to pass on the rookie passers makes perfect sense. And I think Seahawks should (and will) be patient this year.
But I can’t imagine any scenario in which Mel Kiper nor anyone else will be wondering why they passed on the quarterbacks again next year.