Seahawks Draft: Insider breaks down C.J. Stroud, other top QBs

Feb 17, 2023, 1:27 PM
Seahawks draft C.J. Stroud...
C.J. Stroud of the Ohio State Buckeyes throws a pass against the Northwestern Wildcats on November 05, 2022. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The Seahawks find themselves in an interesting spot this offseason as it pertains to the most important position in football.

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Geno Smith was a Pro Bowl quarterback in 2022, but he’s a pending free agent, as is his 2022 backup Drew Lock. The Seahawks have the cap space to re-sign Smith and potentially Lock. They also have the ability to potentially sign new free agent Derek Carr as well as trade for a star like Lamar Jackson.

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And thanks to last offseason’s trade with the Denver Broncos, the Seahawks have not one, but two first-round picks, including the No. 5 overall selection.

Should the Seahawks opt to draft their next quarterback – or draft one to sit and develop behind Smith – they can certainly do so.

So what should we know about the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft class? NFL.com lead draft writer Eric Edholm joined Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy on Tuesday to break it down.

“It’s always an interesting year at quarterback, but this year in particular, I mean, you have some outliers,” Edholm said. “You have some players who are sort of roundly believed to be in that that top-tier of quarterbacks and depending on who you talk to, it may include two guys, three, four, what have you. We’re still kind of sorting out who belongs where, I think but I would say there are four first-round names in the picture that I think right now.”

The top name right now is 2021 Heisman winner Bryce Young from Alabama. There’s also Kentucky’s Will Levis, who Edholm called a “polarizing prospect, but is somebody with a lot of talent. Florida’s Anthony Richardson is in a similar boat to Levis as he’s “another guy who is just oozing with a potential who we haven’t quite seen it yet, but the flashes are there,” Edholm said.

The guy who is typically seen as the No. 2 quarterback is Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, who Edholm said “the narrative kind of changed” for him in a monster performance against Georgia in the College Football Semifinals.

“One of the best games he’s played,” Edholm said. “What set it apart and what Ohio State fans were clamoring for all season long is C.J. is a good athlete, but he was a pocket passer, that was the system they ran. They really didn’t take advantage of  his movement ability. But in that game in particular – perhaps out of need against a good defense – he showed he could play on the move. It almost changed the narrative a little bit about him.”

All four of Young, Stroud, Levis and Richardson “have some warts” but also have some “exciting traits.”

“I don’t think all four will pan out. I think there’s enough volatility there,” Edholm said. “But like you said, with the extra (firs-round pick), the temptation (to draft a quarterback) has to be really strong, even if you love what Geno did last year and think he can give you you know, some quality time going forward.”

Going back to the “polarizing” Levis, Edholm explained what he sees from the Kentucky alum.

“My advice for anybody getting into Will’s tape or just want to know a little bit more about him, start at the beginning of the 2021 season,” he said. “Now maybe it’ll leave you will live with a little bit of a bad taste if you go chronologically, because last year simply wasn’t his best. He just didn’t play up to the level that I think he’s capable of, that others, certainly in the league. I can tell you that coming into the year, he was very highly thought of for his build.”

Levis is 6-3 and 230 pounds with a “thickly build” that can withstand some hits, Edholm said.

“You go to a team that drafts high in the draft, there’s probably some problems there, right? Whether it’s pass protection or not having the skill guys or whatever, so your quarterback is probably going to take a beating. And he showed some real toughness this year,” he said.

2021 was Levis’ best year in college, but his production – and health – took a hit in 2022 after he lost the majority of his offensive line and best skill players to the 2022 NFL Draft, as well as his offensive coordinator.

“The play calling (in 2022) was kind of a mess. Their early scripts look pretty good, and then as the game went on, things kind of fell apart,” Edholm said. “He wasn’t able to run – he was a good runner in 2021 – but various injuries, I think, really kind of held him back, too … it’s just not the same group around you.”

Edholm said with Levis it’s “kind of the same debate” that the draft community had in 2020 with Packers quarterback Jordan Love and Bills superstar Josh Allen back in 2018.

“There’s just a lot to sort out, and you have to kind of look at 2022 through the right lens and understand that the conditions around him and the injuries he faces were sort of out of his control a little bit,” he said.

Listen to the full conversation with Edholm at this link or in the player below.

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