STACY ROST

Rost: Seahawks don’t need to trade back from 5, and they shouldn’t

Apr 8, 2023, 10:05 AM

Seahawks draft...

A Seattle Seahawks fan cheers during round four of the 2022 NFL Draft. (David Becker/Getty Images)

(David Becker/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks are the most interesting team at the top of the draft. In an event that promises no sure thing, it’s hard to say that any one move is objectively wrong, but there is one decision that’ll feel like a letdown to most fans for good reason.

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With Geno Smith as the answer now at quarterback, they could go for one of the top four passers in the class as a future investment. At least one will fall to them if Arizona stays put at three. John Schneider and Pete Carroll have made it clear they haven’t ruled out a quarterback, despite re-signing Smith, and have made visits to Florida, Alabama, Kentucky and Ohio State to see all four top prospects in person.

Full 2023 NFL Draft Order

With three other teams looking for their franchise quarterback, at least one of the top two defensive linemen will also be available. It doesn’t give the Seahawks a long-term answer at the game’s most important position, but it does give them a potentially franchise-altering player on a side of the ball that has underperformed for years.

The real disappointment, though, would come not necessarily from the choice of one position over the other at No. 5 — both choices carry inherent risks and potential rewards — but rather from another decision: trading back.

There’s reason to think they might. Any Seahawks fan can attest to that tradition.

Since 2011, the Seahawks have stayed put with their original first-round pick just three times: selecting tackle Charles Cross at No. 9 overall in 2022, linebacker Jordyn Brooks at No. 27 in 2020, and guard James Carpenter at No. 25 in 2011.

Even those selections require further context, though, because the Seahawks selected Cross with a pick acquired from Denver that March (technically, their original selection went to the Jets, the second of two first-rounders sent to New York for safety Jamal Adams). And while they selected Brooks with their original pick in 2020, it wasn’t for lack of trying to trade back; Seattle was hoping to swap picks with the Packers, who, at No. 30, wanted to trade up and select quarterback Jordan Love, but the deal fell through when Green Bay found a sweeter offer.

Schneider’s draft philosophy is one that values having more bites at the apple. When you’re drafting late in the first round and may no longer have a first-round grade on any remaining players, why not add another pick or two in later rounds and hope to unearth a diamond in the rough? Prior to 2022, Seattle never owned an original pick higher than 12 (from which they traded back to 15 in 2012). From 2013 to 2017, picks owned entering the draft or traded prior were never earlier than 26.

In past years, there’s been reason to trade back outside of that.

In 2019, they entered the draft with just four picks, but eventually used eight separate trades to turn that into 11 rookies. The first in that series of trade-backs involved moving from their original No. 21 selection to 30th overall. In 2018, they entered with eight picks, but seven were in round four and later. So, they traded back from 18th overall to 27th, picking up a day two pick in the process, and selected Rashaad Penny at a position of need following a dreadful year from their running back room.

But this year is different. This year, they don’t need to trade back. And there’s a decent argument to made that they shouldn’t.

There’s no shortage of picks; Seattle has 10 selections. There’s no long gap between selections like they faced in 2018. In fact, they have four selections in the first two rounds alone, and three in the first 37 picks. And for the first time ever, Schneider and Carroll have a chance to select in the top five, something the Seahawks hasn’t done as a franchise since 2009, the year before those two arrived in Seattle.

There’s a world where the quarterback of their dreams is off the board and they can’t fall in love with Jalen Carter, who’s projected to be the top defensive player available at No. 5. You can make a case that trading back even a couple spots would still give them a top-10 talent, like Texas Tech edge Tyree Wilson. But this is the most capital ever owned by this front office, and thus their best chance to hit on the kind of talent they’ve previously only dreamed of. Heck, it’s their best starting point to trade up should they want to leap-frog Indianapolis for Florida’s Anthony Richardson.

They can trade down and still find rare talent. They can also stay put and find a player who could change their team. Thanks to one bold trade and a floundering season from Denver, they can afford not to move. And with that kind of opportunity, one unforeseen by many a year ago, why pass it on to someone else?

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Rost: Seahawks don’t need to trade back from 5, and they shouldn’t