MIKE SALK

Salk: Why Seahawks should roll dice on Anthony Richardson at 5

Apr 25, 2023, 12:37 AM | Updated: 12:38 am

Seattle Seahawks draft Anthony Richardson...

Florida QB Anthony Richardson gestures during a 2022 game against South Carolina. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

(Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

It’s been months of speculation and learning. Weeks of arguing and debate. But it’s time to say it: The Seattle Seahawks should draft Anthony Richardson at No. 5.

I think.

Right?

RIGHT?

OK, I’ve changed my mind about a thousand times during the last few months and even more often in the last few weeks. I’ve thought about trading up for Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson, been tempted by the tantalizing talent of Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter, and considered a future with Texas Tech end Tyree Wilson. And to be honest, any of those scenarios would still be a huge win for the Seahawks on draft day.

But they should draft the player with the highest upside at the most valuable position. And that player is clearly Richardson, the quarterback from Florida.

“But Salk,” you may be thinking, “didn’t you write a whole column about how it would be a mistake to draft a quarterback with the fifth pick?”

Uh, yes. I did. But I’ve changed my mind. The Seahawks are in a unique position and they should do it for three reasons.

1. The Seattle Seahawks are playing with house money.

Somehow this statement has become controversial, but I’m not really sure why. While they obviously knew they were getting a first-round pick when they dealt away Russell Wilson to Denver, even the most ardent supporter of that deal never expected the pick to be this good. Maybe something in the teens, but No. 5? So this seems to me like showing up at Snoqualmie thinking you have $100 to play with only to hit a random $1,000 jackpot before you even sit down. If that happened to me, I’d play a lot less conservatively and try to go big. At the very least, I’d take some bigger swings because I was never really supposed to have that money.

Richardson is the biggest swing in this draft. Sure, he might be a total bust. He might not be accurate enough. He might not have enough production in his career to know whether he sees the game quickly and can read an NFL defense. He really hasn’t played that much.

But as he says, he is an alien. He has otherworldly size, speed and arm strength. He can throw it deep off of play-action, something we know is important to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. And based on his Player’s Tribune letter (and everything I have read about him), he seems like a wonderful, positive leader.

No one else in this draft has his upside because no one has his combination of physical attributes, youth (he’s only 20) and positional value.

And if he doesn’t work out, the team hasn’t committed its entire future to him. Yes, they will have given up a chance to better their team elsewhere, but they still have another first-rounder and two picks in the second, so this isn’t an all-in move like when other teams pick a quarterback at this spot. The Seahawks wouldn’t be trading up for him like San Francisco did for Trey Lance – they aren’t even using their own pick! Plus, they would know going into it that there is a chance this doesn’t work so they can hedge a little if necessary.

Richardson is clearly a risk, but the Seahawks are in a perfect spot to take one.

2. They are in a unique position to develop him.

Unlike the other teams ahead of them, the Seahawks have a quarterback, but they aren’t committed to him. Carolina needs their pick to work (even more so after trading up for it). Houston has so many holes (and they expect to be bad again next year), but quarterback is as gaping as any other. Arizona (foolishly) gave elite level money to a non-elite-level player. And Indianapolis has no other options at QB. Those four teams are in this position because they don’t have the right guy nor the right roster.

Seattle? It made the playoffs last year and its quarterback was pretty darn good. Geno Smith is a leader. He is a mentor. He is someone from which a young, inexperienced rookie can watch and learn. He can go toe to toe with other good quarterbacks in the league. And his contract is really only guaranteed for one year. So if the Seahawks see Richardson as ready to take over, they can move on. And if Geno continues to improve, what’s to prevent them from trading Richardson to recoup some of the capital they gave up to get him?

The Seahawks can let Richardson sit and watch. Let him learn. Let him develop. And they can let it all happen in a winning and stable environment, unlike many of the other potential suitors. This could be as close to the Alex Smith handoff to Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City as you could reasonably expect.

3. There are no other perfect options.

This one hurts to write, but I think the reason we are all struggling to settle on an opinion here for the Seahawks at No. 5 is that all of the options are flawed. As Charles Davis of the NFL Network told us Monday on Brock and Salk, this isn’t the best draft in history. And it seems to be missing some of the dominant players at the most valuable positions.

The Seahawks’ biggest need is along their defensive line, but Carter is the only defensive tackle with truly elite skills, and he has myriad issues from off field concerns to a lack of production that doesn’t measure up to his talent. After Carter, the drop off is significant.

Seattle Seahawks Draft Profile: Polarizing Carter may be best available player

Edge rusher would be another high priority and high value pick for Seattle, but Anderson is likely to be gone and no one else is in his elite category (although there are a bevy of later Day 1 and Day 2 options).

Wilson might be a great player, but there are questions about whether he fits the scheme and concern that he never worked out after his surgery.

The Seahawks took two starting tackles last year and there isn’t an obvious top five pick at the position. They could go with a corner, but they’d probably be reaching at No. 5.

So while there are options, there aren’t any perfect matches. And if you can’t get a perfect fit, why not try to get the player with the absolute highest upside?

That is Richardson.

At the end of that column I wrote imploring the Seahawks to not draft a quarterback, I made sure to say “please burn this after reading it.” Things change. Evaluations change. Positions change. The Hawks have choices. But the one that makes the most sense is to take Anthony Richardson.

If he’s available.

More Seattle Seahawks draft coverage

Rost: Two first-round ‘wild cards’ for the Seattle Seahawks
Could Iowa’s Jack Campbell be the next great Seattle Seahawks linebacker?
Draft Profile: How ‘most talented’ OL Skoronski could fit Hawks
Seattle Seahawks GM Schneider has learned lesson from drafting for need
Seattle Seahawks Draft Profile: ‘Cold-blooded’ OSU WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba

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