Rost: With glaring need on D-line, why is QB speculation so high for Seahawks?

Apr 25, 2023, 12:48 PM

Seattle Seahawks John Schneider Pete Carroll...

John Schneider and Pete Carroll watch Seahawks practice on June 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The Seattle Seahawks need defensive help badly, but as we inch closer to the draft it’s sounding more and more like quarterback is a very real possibility at No. 5 overall.

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

Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter has been the oft-mocked pick over the last two months for good reason.

Seattle Seahawks Draft Profile: Polarizing Jalen Carter may be best player at 5

Seattle’s defense ranked 30th against the run and 25th in points allowed last year (in fact, they haven’t been a top-10 defense in the latter category since 2017). Despite lucrative addition of free agent defensive tackle Dre Jones and a reunion with Jarran Reed, they still lack depth along the defensive line, including a huge hole at nose tackle, where the team essentially has no one – former backup Bryan Mone suffered an ACL injury in December and the team released veteran Al Woods last month.

Seattle’s front office isn’t going to shout from the rooftops their plan to draft Carter or another defensive lineman, but their glaring needs and offseason moves say enough: that this is a team that’s looking for defensive help in this week’s draft.

Why then is there so much quarterback speculation?

For a couple reasons, but it starts with recent reports from draft analysts. With nothing to do but speculate for two days, that means it’s “sources are telling me” season, and the latest batch points to Seattle going quarterback.

ESPN’s Todd McShay wrote Monday of pick No. 5:

“I have a strong sense Seattle won’t leave Round 1 without a quarterback. The more I talk to execs, scouts, coaches and agents, the more I think the Seahawks could be targeting (C.J.) Stroud or even Florida’s Anthony Richardson at this spot, depending on who is there… If both are gone, that means either (Will) Anderson or (Tyree) Wilson will be there, and I expect that’d be the direction Seattle goes. Multiple sources have told me Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter isn’t expected to be the pick.”

The shift is in part because of a changing top-four. The Texans were widely expected to go quarterback until the last few weeks, where several mocks now have them trading back or selecting a defensive lineman like Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. If both Houston and Arizona trade back to quarterback-needy teams, there’s a chance Stroud and Richardson aren’t even available at No. 5. But if one or both stick and go defense, either could be there for the taking (this is assuming Indianapolis falls in love with Kentucky’s Will Levis).

Personally, I’m still picking Seattle to go defense. It’s a glaring need and there are real questions and holes on the depth chart, so much so that I’d be absolutely shocked if defense isn’t the pick for at least one of the first-round selections.

But Houston passing on a quarterback isn’t the only reason some have Seattle going with a top passer. This is a potential selection that’s been floating around for more than a year because of a simple fact: ever since the trade of Russell Wilson, the Seahawks’ biggest question was always going to be “who’s next?”

They don’t need to answer it now. Because for now, it’s Geno Smith. Smith threw for over 30 touchdowns last year – the only quarterback in the NFC to do so – and earned his first Pro Bowl nod. His play was inconsistent over the second half of the season, including several turnover worthy throws for an otherwise accurate passer, but it was good enough to keep Seattle competitive and earn him a three-year extension in the spring. Smith can help Seattle win now, and “winning now” might eventually take precedence on Thursday.

But Smith is turning 33 this fall. And sitting there at No. 5 might be 20-year-old Anthony Richardson or 21-year-old C.J. Stroud. There’s no guarantee either can be the decade-long answer Wilson was, but there’s also no guarantee Seattle will have a shot to take a quarterback here again – the team hasn’t selected in the top five at all since 2009, nearly 15 years ago.

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Rost: With glaring need on D-line, why is QB speculation so high for Seahawks?