Salk: Ranking Seahawks’ 5 options with the No. 5 overall pick

Apr 6, 2023, 1:11 AM | Updated: 2:19 pm

Seahawks draft Will Anderson...

Alabama's Will Anderson Jr. attempts to sack Miami's D'Eriq King on Sept. 4, 2021. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The Seahawks got their cake. That’s cool and all, but they should eat it too.

Seahawks Draft: Latest buzz on trading up for QB, DT Jalen Carter

Yes, they received one of the ultimate gifts in NFL history when the Broncos traded them a first-round pick that was widely assumed to be near the end of the round, only to completely implode and finish with the league’s fifth worst record. No one predicted it would work out that well, but it did. Unfortunately, they are looking at a scenario where that pick might not be worth much more than the three or four that come after it.

If three quarterbacks go in the first four spots, that “nightmare” would come to fruition. Assuming many of the mock draft experts are correct, we could likely see quarterbacks Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson and defensive lineman Will Anderson all taken before the Seahawks are on the clock. That would leave them with a few choices, none of them ideal.

Choice 1: Select Jalen Carter

If you had presented this option a few months ago, Seahawks fans would have fallen out of their seats with shock and glee. Carter is a monster, eating up offensive linemen and making plays all over the line of scrimmage. While he is versatile enough to play all over the defensive front, he fills Seattle’s primary need as an interior defender and might be the most talented player in this draft.

But an off-field incident followed by a terrible pro day have completely changed that view. It’s one thing to take a character risk on a second-round pick, but in the top five? This is where you are supposed to get blue chippers – especially when you aren’t selecting a quarterback. This is supposed to be the realm of the all-but-guaranteed. While Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has worked wonders with young men and truly believes he can help them grow as people, he hasn’t made that bet with as much capital as this pick is worth. Also, Pete has helped players mature and grow off the field, but the bigger concern with Carter is the weight gain and conditioning issues that suggest he might not be as dedicated to his craft as he should be.

As of today, this would be my choice. I wouldn’t necessarily feel confident but I’d rather swing for the fences than mitigate risk with a pick that really was a bonus.

Option 2: Select Will Levis

He has a big arm and he can run, so the comparisons of the Kentucky QB to Josh Allen are fairly natural. Those measurables make me wonder if Seahawks general manager John Schneider sees him in the same way he saw Allen and Patrick Mahomes, but Levis strikes me as one of those quarterbacks who has all of the right pieces but can’t turn them into a finished puzzle. Essentially, he is more like Jake Locker than Allen.

I understand that the big arms get NFL opportunities. The pro game requires enough arm strength to make difficult throws into tighter windows against faster defenders. Arm strength matters, but it’s worthless without accuracy, decision making and processing speed. And while you might be able to teach and coach the first two, I think the third might be innate. Allen and Mahomes both have a natural feel to the game. Tthey understand the flow and anticipate what is to come. That seems to be lacking for Levis and so it would be near impossible for me to use the fifth pick to select him.

Option 3: Select Tyree Wilson (or another edge rusher)

This is the safest pick. Wilson, an outside linebacker from Texas Tech, is reported to have excellent makeup, ideal size for a defensive end in the Seahawks’ 3-4 front, and room to improve. He is coming off a foot injury so we are still waiting to see how he tests, but it would have to be off the charts for him to have the upside of a top-five selection. According to ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller, he is stout and sets an edge but isn’t likely a premier pass rusher. NFL.com sees him as a year one starter but not necessarily a Pro Bowl player unless he can grow into his frame and improve his skills.

I like the idea of Wilson, and if the Seahawks do their research on Carter and decide he isn’t salvageable, then this would probably be my next choice though it has the feel of a 6-10 pick rather than the very top of the draft.

Option 4: Trade back

This would hurt. I know it’s a possibility and it might even be the “right” thing to do if there’s no clear and obvious choice available. Maybe you can move back a few picks and still get a player equivalent to what you would find at No. 5, but it would feel like a complete waste of a rare opportunity to add the kind of elite talent normally reserved for the worst teams. Yes, extra third-rounders are helpful, but they are often used as either lottery tickets or for lower-upside starters, and later-round picks hit even less often. I would be disappointed if they trade back.

As you can see, the Seahawks could find themselves in a tough spot: drafting fifth in a draft with four players that make the most sense for their team. Sub-optimal for sure.

But you may remember I said I wanted them to have their cake and eat it too. So if this scenario is likely to occur, why not try to eliminate it? Why not refuse to settle for what is left over and take matters into your own hands? Why not try for…

Option Five: Trade up!

To do so, the Seahawks would have to trade up into the top four. It wouldn’t be easy – three of the teams drafting ahead of Seattle (Carolina, Houston and Indy) desperately need quarterbacks, and the fourth (Arizona) is in your division – but you absolutely have the capital to make it happen. Depending on which chart you consult, it would take a second- or third-round pick to move up those two spots. The original Jimmy Johnson chart suggests a 500-point difference, and the Seahawks’ second-rounder from Denver is worth 530 points. The revised Rich Hill model sees a 46-point difference, pretty close to the 52-point value of Seattle’s third-rounder.

Maybe you’d need to throw in a late round pick to overcome the intra-division hesitancy, but rumors persist that the Cardinals would prefer to trade with a quarterback-needy team and I would hope they would trust their own plan rather than simply trying to foil a rival.

Getting to No. 3 wouldn’t be prohibitively expensive and it could guarantee the Seahawks a player they really like (assuming there is one). Maybe that is one of the three top quarterbacks or maybe it’s Will Anderson. But if their current options aren’t perfect, why not give up marginal value to improve your situation?

Maybe there will be a draft day surprise and things will work out better for the Seahawks than they appear today. Maybe I’m wrong (wouldn’t be a huge surprise!) and they are 100% sold on one of the options likely to be available where they pick. But based on what I see today, I would trade up.

Of course, I have three weeks to change my mind.

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