Analyst: How Seahawks’ Sam Howell compares to top QBs in draft

Apr 3, 2024, 12:15 PM

Seattle Seahawks Sam Howell...

Sam Howell of the Washington Commanders on Dec. 31, 2023. (Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

(Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

There was speculation this would be the year the Seattle Seahawks took a quarterback early in the NFL Draft. But a recent trade seems to indicate that won’t be the case.

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Last month, the Hawks acquired Sam Howell from the Washington Commanders. Howell, a 2022 fourth-round pick, is 24 years old and started all 17 games for the Commanders last year, where he passed for nearly 4,000 yards with 21 touchdown passes, but took the most sacks and threw the most interceptions in football. Despite starting last year, Howell will be a backup in Seattle to Geno Smith.

This year’s draft has six top quarterback prospects, with three to four expected to go in the top five and potentially all six being first-round picks.

So how does Howell compare to them? ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller shared his insight with Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Wednesday.

“I famously didn’t like Sam Howell and took a lot of grief for that, especially amongst Commanders fans once he was drafted,” Miller said. “… I had him rated at 74 overall. I thought he was really a high backup guy. My comp for him was Colt McCoy. I thought he would just be a good QB2 in the NFL.”

The top quarterback prospects this year are USC’s Caleb Williams, LSU’s Jayden Daniels, North Carolina’s Drake Maye, Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy, UW’s Michael Penix Jr. and Oregon’s Bo Nix. Those first four are expected to go very soon off the board while Penix and Nix are harder to pin down, according to most analysts.

Regardless of where Penix and Nix end up, Miller is higher on them than Howell moving forward.

“I would take all of the top six way over him … In whatever order you want to (order this draft’s quarterbacks), all those guys are much higher than him,” Miller said. “Even (South Carolina’s) Spencer Rattler, I would take Spencer Rattler over Sam Howell. And that’s not based on me saying, ‘OK, I watched him struggle at Washington last year.’ That’s based on where I had him before the draft.”

While Miller clearly isn’t a huge fan of Howell’s long-term prospects as a starter, especially compared to this year’s quarterback class, he did say there’s things to like with Howell, especially when it comes to how he fits in with a new Seahawks coaching staff.

“He’s a beautiful deep-ball thrower, he’s got some good mobility, he’s tough. We saw that last year,” Miller said. “He needs a comfortable spot to shake some of his bad habits. He’s got to get the ball out faster. I think his intermediate passing is at times really, really late and it’s inaccurate at times. This is a good QB2.”

The Seahawks hired Mike Macdonald as the team’s new head coach, and one of Macdonald’s first hires was Ryan Grubb as offensive coordinator. Grubb was the offensive coordinator for the Washington Huskies the last two years, leading one of the nation’s best offenses, especially when it came to the passing game.

“And I think in this scheme that Seattle is running – we’ll see how similar it is to what they did at Washington last year – but they love the deep ball, and that is what Sam Howell does best is the deep ball,” Miller said. “So I think if you want to marry those two things together and say hey, Ryan Grubb, they’re gonna air that ball out, they’re gonna chuck it down the field with these dudes, that is what Sam Howell does best.”

Listen to the full Brock and Salk conversation with ESPN NFL Draft analyst Matt Miller in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks may not need to look far to fill hole on offensive line
Why Bump has hopes for unexpected Seattle Seahawks’ position
• Seahawks Mock Draft Roundup: Could Penix be reunited with Grubb?
• Huard’s Seattle Seahawks Draft Profile: Fullback option for offense
• Huard: What the next phase of Seattle Seahawks’ offseason looks like

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