BRANDON GUSTAFSON

How Panthers’ trade up to No. 1 spot in NFL Draft impacts the Seahawks

Mar 11, 2023, 2:14 PM

Seattle Seahawks draft...

A video board displays for a Seahawks selection during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

A massive trade occurred on Friday that drastically changes the upcoming NFL Draft, and it’s a deal that could have a big impact on the Seahawks’ draft.

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The Carolina Panthers traded with the Chicago Bears for the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft. In order to do that, the Panthers sent Chicago the No. 9 pick in this year’s draft, a second-round pick this year, a 2024 first-round pick, a 2025 second-round pick and wide receiver D.J. Moore.

The Panthers have been in quarterback purgatory for the last few years, and this deal assures they will be able to take whichever QB prospect they like the most, while the Bears didn’t need a quarterback this year as they have 2021 first-rounder Justin Fields returning. There are four quarterback prospects seen as first-round picks, and all four are likely to go in the first seven to 10 picks this year.

With this trade, there are now three teams in the top four that will presumably be drafting a quarterback: Carolina, Houston (No. 2 overall) and Indianapolis (No. 4).

So how does this impact the Seahawks, who hold the No. 5 overall pick in next month’s draft?

The potential bad: QB market

In terms of the quarterback market, it makes things complicated and more difficult for Seattle.

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have both publicly said they’re open to the idea of drafting a QB at No. 5 despite having just re-signed Geno Smith, with Carroll telling reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine that the team is “connected” to this class’ quarterback prospects.

As noted earlier, there are four quarterbacks seen as early-first-round picks. Those four are Bryce Young (Alabama), C.J. Stroud (Ohio State), Anthony Richardson (Florida) and Will Levis (Kentucky).

With Carolina, Houston and Indianapolis all in front of the Seahawks and needing a quarterback, there figures to be at least three QBs off the board by the time Seattle is on the clock at No. 5 overall. There’s a chance one of the four top QBs is still available at pick No. 5, but it may not be the one Seattle wants, if they do indeed want to take a quarterback.

Additionally, this trade puts an emphasis on Arizona at No. 3 overall.

Do the Cardinals stick at three and take the top defender on their board? Or do they trade down with a QB-needy team such as Las Vegas (No. 7 pick) or Atlanta (No. 8)?

If Arizona does indeed trade down, that’s likely with a team needing a quarterback. That would mean the Seahawks may not have a chance to draft one of these top quarterbacks unless they’re willing to make a blockbuster trade with a division rival.

So for those (like myself) who would love to see Richardson land in Seattle to learn under Smith for a year or two, Friday’s trade made that possibility less likely and more difficult to pull off.

The potential good: Defenders

More quarterbacks off the board early means more top defenders available at pick No. 5.

The Seahawks don’t need to draft a quarterback fifth overall, especially after re-signing Smith. But they do need to fix a defense that ranked near the bottom of the NFL in yards, rushing yards and points allowed in 2022.

Throughout the draft process, there have been two defenders who stood out among the rest: Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. and Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter, both All-American selections. Additionally, Texas Tech edge rusher Tyree Wilson has risen up draft boards over the last few months, too, and has been commonly linked to the Seahawks in various mock drafts this offseason.

With Carolina picking first and Houston and Indianapolis also picking in the top four, Seattle at No. 5 is almost certain to have at least two of those three defenders on the board.

And if the Seahawks do indeed want a defender, Arizona at No. 3 is still a team to watch for.

If the Cardinals stick with their high draft pick, they’ll have their choice of the top non-quarterbacks in this year’s draft class, which many analysts believe is Anderson. If Anderson is Seattle’s top target, that would be less than ideal, but Carter (off-field matters are certainly a concern) and Wilson are great defensive prospects in their own right.

But as noted earlier, there are other teams in the draft that could draft a quarterback which aren’t in the top five, like Vegas, Atlanta and potentially even Tennessee (11), Washington (15) or Tampa Bay (19).

And depending what happens with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, that could certainly shake up the draft QB market, too. Jackson is on the non-exclusive franchise tag, meaning he can negotiate with teams and if he agrees to a deal and Baltimore doesn’t match the contract demand, Jackson can leave the team and the Ravens would receive two first-round picks from Jackson’s new team.

With other teams potentially needing/wanting a quarterback, Arizona is reportedly open for business in terms of trading that pick. If the Cards do make a deal for that No. 3 selection, that could help the Seahawks in a major way if they want their pick of defenders as that would presumably mean picks one through four are all signal callers.

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