WYMAN AND BOB

Wyman’s Seahawks Draft Breakdown: Focus on speed, outside positions

May 5, 2022, 7:09 AM
Seahawks Tyreke Smith...
Ohio State's Tyreke Smith sacks Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 2021. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Going into the 2022 NFL draft, the Seahawks had seven players that they rated as worthy of the No. 9 overall pick. And last Thursday evening, the players that they slated for the ninth pick started to rapidly drop off the board. It wasn’t until the Atlanta Falcons selected Drake London, the wide receiver from USC, at No. 8 that the Seahawks could breathe a sigh of relief.

They got their man.

Bumpus on Seahawks Draft: CBs Bryant, Woolen | DEs Mafe, Smith

Charles Cross, the offensive tackle from Mississippi State, was definitely worthy of the No. 9 pick, and he fit one of the themes of Seattle’s draft: great athletes at positions on the outside (more on that later). And had Cross not fallen to them, the landscape of their draft would’ve been altered drastically.

There was a feeling that the Seahawks got the players they needed, and there was a consensus that it was a good draft. One of the reasons for that is there is a healthy collaboration between the coaching staff and the personnel department that has been missing the past few years.

After Clint Hurtt was hired as the new defensive coordinator, he told us on Seattle Sports Station’s Wyman and Bob that he had a very healthy respect for general manager John Schneider, vice president of player personnel Trent Kirchner and the rest of the scouting department. There’s seems to be a newfound synergy at the VMAC, and it showed up in the ’22 draft.

Maybe the biggest surprise was that the Seahawks’ stayed put the first two days. It wasn’t until Saturday that the Seahawks made a trade, sending pick No. 145 to the Kansas City Chiefs for picks 158 and 233.

The Seahawks filled their needs and did so with a number of great athletes available. For instance:

• 310-pound OT Charles Cross ran the 40-yard dash in less than 5 seconds.

• 265-pound defensive end Boye Mafe (second round) ran the 40 in 4.53 seconds.

• Tariq Woolen, the fifth-round cornerback out of UTSA, ran a 4.26 40, tied for fourth-fastest in NFL combine history.

Speed kills

Anyone who has listened to Wyman and Bob has heard me talk about the hash marks in the NFL. They’re a little over 6 yards apart in the middle of a field that is 53 1/3 yards wide. The speed of the game lives outside those hash marks, and the Seahawks’ draft reflected that.

Furthermore, always follow the money. Edge rushers get paid more than interior defensive linemen, corners get paid more than safeties, tackles get paid more than guards, and wide receivers get paid more than tight ends. Those outside positions are where Seattle made all but one of their nine picks.

Offensive tackle

Seattle drafted two tackles that weigh more than 300 pounds, and both ran the 40-yard dash sub-5 seconds.

Cross, nicknamed “Sweet Feet,” allowed just 16 pressures in 719 pass block situations. His feet allow him to not only make those blocks but also allow him to correct any bad step instantly. The best thing about him is that even though he was a sure first-round pick entering the draft season, he did everything the NFL asks of a college prospect. Everything from the 40-yard dash to the Wonderlic test, Cross was all-in for all of it.

Abraham Lucas, the WSU tackle who the Seahawks picked in the third round, checks in at 322 pounds and ran a 4.92 40-yard dash. He played in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., and adjusted well to professional coaching and showed that he can also run block.

Edge rusher

The Seahawks will need players on the outside of their revamped defense that asks edge rushers to also drop into coverage.

In the second round, the Seahawks took Minnesota’s Mafe, who is 260 pounds and ran a 4.55 40-yard dash. The Seahawks had him rated as the third-best edge rusher in the entire draft. He handled the Senior Bowl coaching very well, which is something that NFL scouts cherish. What I see out of Mafe is that he is very raw and very willing to get better. He has a rare quality that I describe this way: “He just goes wherever he wants to go.”

Tyreke Smith, a fifth-rounder out of Ohio State, is a 260-pound edge rusher who the Seahawks compare to Michael Bennett. With the Buckeyes, he made every play you can make. He’s got great lean and is very “stingy with the space,” meaning he fights and scraps for every inch on the field. He can play the run, he knocks down passes, he reads the read option really well and has a better than average spin move. Tyreke Smith is my sleeper pick in this draft.

Cornerback

The highest corner taken in any draft by Schneider and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is No. 90 (Shaquill Griffin). This year the Seahawks got a pair at 109 and 153 that are on opposite ends of the spectrum.

Coby Bryant, Seattle’s lone fourth-rounder, ran just a 4.54 40-yard dash but played in 50 games at Cincinnati, recording nine interceptions and 35 passes broken up. He is a polished corner who works hard, and he won the Jim Thorpe Award as the best defensive back in the country.

Woolen is the ultimate long-shot prospect. He’s 6 foot 4, ran the 40 in under 4.3 at the combine, and recorded a 42-inch vertical jump. He’s a flier that the Seahawks can’t wait to get their hands on. Pairing him with Bryant will only benefit him to become the kind of player that Brandon Browner and Tre Flowers were at their best.

Receivers

Speaking of raw, Rutgers’ Bo Melton only ran two or three different routes in the 40 games he played for the Scarlet Knights. Dareke Young, the second of the two seventh-round wide receivers taken by the Seahawks, played at Division II Lenoir-Rhyne, which has yielded just two NFL players in the last 20 years.

Melton, who is a Doug Baldwin-sized receiver, ran a 4.34 40 and played a lot of college football, which I find to be valuable in the COVID era. He played in 40 games and although he didn’t have great numbers (2,011 yards and 11 TDs) over his five seasons, he has a Tyler Lockett-like quality in that he tends to find himself wide open at times.

The 6-2, 225-pound Young is another who could be considered a player that the Seahawks are taking a flier on. He is raw and has phenomenal measurables. He visited the Seahawks in the offseason and the one thing that stands out to me is that in 43 college games, he had 88 rushing attempts for 658 yards and eight TDs. Maybe there’s something there?

Running back

This is the one player that does not play on the outside of the field, but his talent will take him there. Kenneth Walker III from Michigan State could be the player that has the biggest impact on the 2022 Seahawks. It was also the one pick that was most panned by the “draft gurus,” mainly because many felt it was not a position of need. I would argue that point.

In my mind the running back room is entirely unsettled. Chris Carson is a superstar but may be done due to the neck injury that ended his 2021 season, and Rashaad Penny is a player who took four years to get to where he needs to be.

It’s also at a time when the Seahawks need to get back to the running game without their franchise quarterback Russell Wilson.

Walker started off at Wake Forest but apparently was pushed to the back of the rotation because another player was recruited by the school with the promise that he would get the majority of carries. This caused Walker to enter the transfer portal, and he was immediately picked up by Michigan State. Much like when Russell Wilson transferred from North Carolina State to Wisconsin, Walker instantly changed the culture for the Spartans. His career at MSU started with a 75-yard touchdown run on his first carry that entirely ignited the Spartans’ sideline. In that moment you can see what Walker meant to that team in a very short period of time.

Walker had 263 carries for 1,636 yards and 18 TDs, averaging 6.2 yards per carry. Other than Charles Cross, I can see Walker having the biggest impact on this team as a rookie.

This draft class feels like the early days of the Pete Carroll/John Schneider regime, maybe because they were without the burden of satisfying or complimenting a franchise quarterback. It feels like they’ve gotten back to the salad days of the rebuilding Seattle Seahawks from 2010-12.

Why the Seahawks’ draft, especially RB Walker, is Huard’s favorite since 2010

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Wyman’s Seahawks Draft Breakdown: Focus on speed, outside positions