Fann: Jalen Carter’s red flags make Seahawks trade down in draft more likely

Mar 21, 2023, 3:00 PM | Updated: Apr 6, 2023, 2:24 pm

Seahawks Pete Carroll...

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll looks on from the sideline during a Dec. 11, 2022 game against Carolina. (Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

The ambiguity surrounding standout Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter has potentially thrown a wrench into the Seahawks’ plans with the No. 5 overall pick.

With Lock re-signed, are the Seahawks out on drafting a QB in the first round?

Yes, Carter will avoid jail time after being booked earlier this year on misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing. But Carter still showed up to his Pro Day well overweight to the point where he struggled to get through his positional drills.

Maybe this month will serve as a wake-up call for Carter and he’ll enjoy an incident-free NFL career. However, the Seahawks will have to think long and hard before making that gamble and investing in him with the most lucrative draft pick of the John Schneider-Pete Carroll era. They can’t afford to select Carter at No. 5 if there is any sliver of doubt in their minds that the uber-talented defensive lineman would make them look silly in hindsight.

So if we assume for a second that Carter is off Seattle’s draft board, then trading back from No. 5 becomes a much more realistic outcome.

Brock Huard made that point during Monday’s episode of Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports.

“I would love to see them actually trade down,” Huard began. “I would love—”

“That’s such a weak answer,” interrupted his co-host Mike Salk. “Trade down?”

The two went back and forth as to why they’re on opposite sides of the discussion, with Huard adding that he wouldn’t trade below the 10th pick as he sees 10 elite players in this draft.

I side with Huard on this one for a couple reasons beyond what I mentioned above about Carter.

For starters, the best part about being in the top five of the draft is the accessibility to blue chip players, primarily quarterbacks. There are four this year that are expected to go inside the top 10: Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Kentucky’s Will Levis and Florida’s Anthony Richardson.

If Seattle isn’t planning on taking one of the QBs, which is another assumption in this hypothetical, then capitalizing on another team’s desire for one makes a ton of sense. There’s also a chance that a different team would be willing to move up and take a chance on Carter.

Moving down in order to acquire an additional premium pick makes sense given the Seahawks still have a number of holes on the roster. Seattle remains without a single multi-year commitment on the interior of its offensive line with Damien Lewis, Evan Brown and Phil Haynes all free agents in 2024. The same can be said for linebacker with Devin Bush, an addition in free agency last week, given just a one-year deal.

The Seahawks are overhauling their entire defensive line after parting ways with Al Woods, L.J. Collier, Poona Ford and Shelby Harris. One of those names could end up returning at a reduced cost, but Seattle drafting a defensive lineman in addition to the signings of Dre’Mont Jones and Jarran Reed feels like a certainty. The Seahawks would also be wise to tap into a deep cornerback class in order to find a long-term starter opposite Tariq Woolen.

What does the Al Woods release tell us about the Seahawks’ defense?

Being able to fill those voids with Day 1 and Day 2 picks rather than hoping to find late-round gems would be ideal.

There are two factors that would prohibit a trade down at No. 5 in this scenario. The first would be Will Anderson still being on the board. That’s highly unlikely given the Alabama pass rusher is nearly the consensus choice for safest non-QB pick in this draft class. He won’t get past the Cardinals at No. 3.

The other is whether or not Seattle is comfortable taking Texas Tech pass rusher Tyree Wilson at No. 5. Wilson has a monster 6-foot-6 frame and condor-sized 7-foot-2 wingspan. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah has Wilson ranked fourth overall on his big board, which supports Seattle taking him at No. 5.

“Overall, Wilson is still improving, but he has all of the tools to develop into a Pro Bowl edge rusher,” Jeremiah wrote.

The good news, as Huard pointed out Monday, is the Seahawks have done enough in free agency to give themselves the flexibility to pursue a number of options at the top of this year’s draft.

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