GM John Schneider: Seahawks had ‘easy’ decisions with top 2 picks

May 2, 2023, 5:48 PM

Seattle Seahawks Devon Witherspoon...

Devon Witherspoon walks on stage after being drafted fifth overall by the Seattle Seahawks. (David Eulitt/Getty Images)

(David Eulitt/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks weren’t sure Devon Witherspoon would be still be available when it was their time to make their first 2023 NFL Draft pick last Thursday at No. 5 overall.

Not only that, but they felt lucky that their selection at No. 20, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, was still around when they made that choice, too.

Rost: Where the Seahawks stand after adding big 2023 draft class

Seahawks general manager John Schneider joined Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Tuesday afternoon to talk about his team’s big draft class, and two of the biggest takeaways from the 20-minute conversation have to do with how easy it was for them to take their top two selections.

Why Seattle Seahawks ‘loved’ CB Devon Witherspoon

Most didn’t see the Seahawks’ selection of Illinois cornerback Witherspoon coming at No. 5 overall. Some of them may have even been in the Seahawks’ draft room, though for a different reason than you may think.

“There were a lot of whispers with Arizona that if they got stuck (with the No. 3 pick) and didn’t get out that he was one of two players that they were going to take,” Schneider said. “So yeah, we were concerned they might get stuck and just take him.”

The Cardinals got free of the No. 3 pick, though, sending it to the Houston Texans in exchange for the No. 12 pick in the first round, the No. 33 pick in the second round, and first- and third-round picks in 2024. That left just one more obstacle for Seattle: the Indianapolis Colts at No. 4.

“Once Indy picked, we had a clear cut idea of where we were headed and I think everybody in the room just felt a big sigh of relief,” Schneider said. “We called off the dogs on the other trades and just went ahead and picked him and it felt great.”

Schneider made it clear that the Seahawks could not have been more happy to land Witherspoon.

“We loved him all throughout the process. I think everybody did a great job of keeping it in house how excited we were about him,” he said. “Nationally, he was just kind of like people put him up there (as a top-five pick) and then nobody really talked about him that much. We were just really excited as a whole group that he was still available. I mean, I know it sounds crazy – ‘still available’ (at No. 5) – we really didn’t know what was gonna happen in front of us so it was very much wide open.

“You’re talking about a really, really tough, instinctive football player who loves playing ball. We had a great visit with him up here. Everybody, the whole staff, the whole building loved him. Really infectious personality. I think you guys are gonna learn to like him a lot.”

Another ‘easy decision’ at No. 20

People were less surprised that the Seahawks picked Smith-Njigba, an Ohio State wide receiver, with their second first-round pick as he had been predicted to go to Seattle at No. 20 in several mock drafts. Schneider, though, didn’t think at first that the Hawks would get a chance to pick Smith-Njigba that late in the round.

“When we were at the Ohio State workout that day, we left that night and I was just thinking to myself, like, ‘There’s no way that guy’s gonna make it to 20,'” he said.

So when he was still there at No. 20?

“It was an easy decision,” Schneider said. “… It was an easy decision just because he’s plug-and-play.”

Smith-Njigma is expected to be the third piece of a talented Seahawks receiver trio, joining Pro Bowlers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.

So why is Schneider so pleased with the headliners of this Seattle Seahawks draft class?

“People are saying it right now, but we really did feel like we took the best corner and the best receiver in the draft,” he said, “and so obviously we felt really, really good about that.”

Listen to the full Wyman and Bob conversation with Schneider in the podcast below.

More on the Seattle Seahawks draft class

Devon Witherspoon: Why going to Seahawks at No. 5 ‘means a lot’
UCLA’s Chip Kelly: What Seahawks are getting in RB Charbonnet
UCLA WR Jake Bobo may be Seahawks’ biggest undrafted steal
Pete Carroll Breakdown: Head coach details the Seahawks’ 2023 draft class
‘Speed and violence’: Why Huard gives Seattle Seahawks’ draft high marks

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