Draft analyst shares a fit for Macdonald’s Seahawks defense

Feb 16, 2024, 11:53 AM | Updated: Feb 21, 2024, 4:01 pm

Seattle Seahawks draft Jared Verse...

Jared Verse of the Florida State Seminoles celebrates after a big play on Oct. 7, 2023. (Michael Chang/Getty Images)

(Michael Chang/Getty Images)

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With the 2023 season wrapped up and all head positions filled, we’re now in full swing when it comes to the draft cycle. The NFL Scouting Combine is less than two weeks away, and the draft itself is just over two months from kicking off.

When it comes to the Seahawks and the first round, there have been plenty of different opinions on who they should take.

Some have speculated they will draft a quarterback, such as Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy. Others like the idea of improving the interior of the offensive line with someone like Troy Fautanu of Washington.

But in his recent three-round mock draft, The Athletic’s Nick Baumgardner has the Seahawks drafting an edge rusher 16th overall in Florida State standout Jared Verse.

Baumgardner joined Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob this week to discuss that potential fit, as well as why he thinks the Seahawks may take a quarterback later in the draft.

“This was kind of a best player available situation,” Baumgardner said. “But also knowing (new Seahawks head coach) Mike Macdonald and what he’s been able to do over the years, Verse is a guy, I just got done dogging the edge class, he’s actually really good. He’s one of the top two in the class that actually would qualify as a top-end first-round pick. He’s long, he’s explosive, he’s got bend, all that sort of stuff. He can be a three-down player, he’s got coverage range.”

All those traits lead Baumgardner to believe that Verse is someone Macdonald, a former defensive coordinator, will covet on his defense. Verse had nine sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss for the Seminoles last year and is a two-time first-team All-American.

Macdonald was defensive coordinator in Baltimore the last two years, but in 2021, he was in college as Michigan’s D-coordinator. There, he coached Aidan Hutchinson, who was an All-American that season before going second overall to Detroit.

“Macdonald made his bones nationally at Michigan with Aidan Hutchinson and really unlocked a lot of stuff with him as an edge that helped turn him into the player that he’s become. And during that year they were together, he took him and moved him around and did a bunch of stuff,” Baumgardner said. “I think a versatile, athletic pass rusher who can also defend the run and then drop and cover (like Verse) is a guy that Macdonald can really do a lot of cool stuff with.”

Could Seattle Seahawks draft a QB later?

Most of the talk involving the Seahawks and drafting a quarterback has to do with them selecting one 16th overall. But Baumgardner has Seattle selecting a quarterback with one of the team’s two third-round picks in Tulane’s Michael Pratt, the reigning AAC Offensive Player of the Year.

“This is a really good quarterback class. This is is a legit one,” he said. “This is one of the ones where COVID and the backlog of players staying (in college) impacted these previous classes and really loaded up this one. And it goes beyond those top guys at the top.”

There’s a consensus top-six quarterbacks in this year’s class in Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, Jayden Daniel, Bo Nix, Michael Penix Jr. and McCarthy. All six are likely to be drafted either in the first or second round.

Some analysts feel there’s a steep dropoff after those six, but Baumgardner likes a few quarterbacks that are likely to be drafted in the third round or later.

“Spencer Rattler is the guy from South Carolina, he had a really nice Senior Bowl. I think if you give him time and you give him some room to grow, he can blossom into a nice player, maybe like in a Jordan Love situation,” Baumgardner said.

As for Pratt, who Baumgardner mocked to Seattle with the 81st overall, he’s someone who has “all the measurables you want,” and could be a potential starter down the line.

“He’s got terrific arm talent … He had a few injuries early on in his career, but he’s also pretty young and is really sort of a guy you could bide and take your time with,” he said. “And I think that Seattle is one of those teams that if you can get him in the third round, kind of like what Detroit did with Hendon Hooker last year and what some other teams have done in that second or third round when you don’t need to have him start immediately but maybe in a year or two if something weird happens, he can be there.”

Additionally, Baumgardner is not a big fan of the 2025 NFL Draft class’ quarterbacks.

“The quarterbacks this year are good enough to where if you have a need, it’s worth doing it because next year’s aren’t nearly as good at the top and it’s nowhere close to as good depth-wise,” he said. “So I think this is a year if you have a reasonable need for it in the next year or two, you should probably really look at it.”

Listen to Wyman and Bob’s full conversation with The Athletic’s Nick Baumgardner at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

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Draft analyst shares a fit for Macdonald’s Seahawks defense