Seahawks Draft: Analyst breaks down two key positions

Feb 14, 2024, 3:25 PM | Updated: Feb 21, 2024, 4:01 pm

Seattle Seahawks draft...

A view of the stage as the Seahawks deliver a pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. (Photo: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

(Photo: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

With the Seattle Seahawks having hired their next head coach in Mike Macdonald as well as his offensive and defensive coordinators, eyes can now shift to the upcoming NFL Draft.

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The draft is always a big deal for the Seahawks, and that’s especially the case this year with a new head coach coming in after Seattle missed the playoffs for the second time in three years.

NFL.com draft expert Lance Zierlein joined Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy on Wednesday and shared his insight into the 2024 draft, including how he sees things going down at two key positions. Here’s a look at what he had to say regarding the Seahawks.

Which QB could be in play for the Seattle Seahawks at 16?

Unlike last year when the Seahawks held the fifth overall pick thanks to a trade with Denver, Seattle will have to wait until the 16th pick this year – barring a trade up, something general manager John Schneider has never done in the first round.

The Seahawks have quarterback Geno Smith under contract for two more years, but the team has a big decision to make this Friday as it pertains to bringing Smith back. On Friday, Smith’s 2024 salary becomes fully guaranteed, so if the Seahawks want to get out of that deal, a decision will be coming in the next few days.

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Whether Smith is back or not, though, the Seahawks could look at drafting a quarterback in the first round, something they considered last year.

“I think that the way it’s shaking out, my guess is that four quarterbacks are going to be off the board by the time Seattle picks,” Zierlein said. “I personally think it’s going to lock in at (USC’s) Caleb Williams and (LSU’s) Jayden Daniels (going first). Then I think it’s going to be interesting to see if it’s (North Carolina’s) Drake Maye or (Michigan’s) J.J. McCarthy that goes next.”

Two popular Pacific Northwest quarterbacks should be available at 16, Zierlien said. They would be Oregon’s Bo Nix and Washington’s Michael Penix Jr.

Zierlein thinks Nix ultimately will be picked before Penix, whether it’s 16th overall to the Seahawks or potentially later.

“We know Seattle has a very well-known history of trading back and you could still potentially trade back and land Bo Nix if you want a quarterback. You might not have to do it with pick No. 16,” he said. “I don’t think Michael Penix goes in the first. I just think the injury concerns and the background of his injury, the history and the medicals, I think that’s just going to be too big of concern for a lot of teams. Plus the tape was a little uneven at times … But that doesn’t mean that Seattle couldn’t target him outside of the first round.”

Ultimately, Zierlein doesn’t see the Seahawks staying at 16 and taking a quarterback.

“I don’t know if I see Seattle sitting there taking the fifth quarterback off the board unless they have a really high grade on them because otherwise I just think you trade back, add draft capital, and then if a player is still there you like at quarterback, you take him then after you’ve added some draft capital,” he said. “That’s my guess for how that could play out.”

Williams, Daniels, Maye, McCarthy, Nix and Penix are almost universally considered to be the six best quarterbacks in this draft. After those six, Zierlein sees a big dropoff. But he is intrigued by one quarterback who has fallen off people’s radars: Florida State’s Jordan Travis.

“Travis is an interesting one because he was the guy that had some Heisman Trophy hype for a while, and then he got injured and we know famously that Florida State fell out of contention for the national championship after his injury,” Zierlein said.

Travis led the Seminoles’ offense before suffering a season-ending leg injury in their 11th game of the year. Despite Florida State remaining undefeated, the Seminoles missed the College Football Playoff in large part because of Travis’ injury.

In 11 games, Travis completed just under 64% of his passes for 2,756 yards and 20 touchdowns to two interceptions. He also rushed for seven scores and finished fifth in Heisman voting.

But because of his injury, Travis isn’t being talked about that much when it comes to the NFL Draft.

“Honestly, I don’t hear anyone talking about him. I mean, he’s really out of sight out of mind to the point that I wasn’t even sure if he was in the draft until I saw the combine list,” Zierlein said. “… It’s been very, very quiet on the Jordan Travis front … He’s just quietly flying way under the radar due to his injury, and I’m really curious to see what the tape looks like this week when I get to study him. So he’s one to at least keep in mind.”

Inside linebacker help

The Seahawks have a lot of decisions to make when it comes to the roster under Macdonald. On defense, they currently have no inside linebackers under contract for 2024 as starters Bobby Wagner and Jordyn Brooks are pending free agents, as is backup Devin Bush.

Are there any inside linebackers who could be in play for the Seahawks with the 16th pick?

“Not in the first round. It’s not a great year for linebackers, unfortunately,” Zierlein said.

Zierlein doubts an inside linebacker goes in the first round this year, and instead thinks the best players at that spot will go in the second and third rounds.

“I do think there’s some talented players inside. Junior Colson from Michigan, I think he’s more of a second-rounder,” Zierlein said. ” … I think Jeremiah Trotter … from Clemson is going to be a very smart player who is going to go probably in the late-second or early-third. Edgerrin Cooper is a linebacker from Texas A&M that has some talent that could go in the second or third. But it’s just not a great year. If you need linebackers, you ain’t doing it in the first round, not at inside backer, for sure.”

Listen to Bump and Stacy’s full conversation with Lance Zierlein at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

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