ESPN’s Matt Miller dives into Seahawks draft fits and connections

Apr 5, 2024, 8:43 AM

Seattle Seahawks NFL Draft MIke Sainristil...

Mike Sainristil of the Michigan Wolverines during a 2023 game. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

(Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks have some pretty interesting connections when it comes to this year’s NFL Draft.

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New head coach Mike Macdonald was defensive coordinator at Michigan in 2021, so plenty of his former players are set to get drafted. Additionally, new offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb called plays at Washington the last two seasons.

Are any players from those schools fits for the Seahawks? ESPN’s Matt Miller broke that down and also shared other players he’d love to see the Hawks select during a Wednesday conversation with Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk.

First, Michigan, which won the national championship last season thanks in large part to a stellar defense.

A key part of that? Do-it-all defensive back Mike Sainristil.

“And it’s not just because of the Macdonald connection, but Ryan Grubb had to gameplan for these guys, so he knows that Michigan defense really, really well,” Miller noted. “I think you always look at a guy like Mike Sainristil knowing that Seattle has made some really, really big changes in the secondary this year and saying, OK, Mike, he can play back there. He can play the nickel corner, he can play outside corner, he can play the safety. He just fits in well. And not to say that secondary is a huge, huge need, but there’s been enough turnover there, and I think I think he certainly fits.”

While secondary may not be the biggest need for the Seahawks in this year’s draft, inside linebacker is. Michigan has two linebackers who Miller thinks will be impact NFL defenders.

“I will jump on the table for Junior Colson any day of the week. I absolutely love him. Same with Mike Barrett,” he said. ” … Barrett is a late-rounder, Colson is a second-rounder for me. But those are dudes that I would try to find a way to get them on my team.”

On the other side of the ball for the Wolverines, Michigan regularly has an elite offensive line. Interior O-line is a big need for the Seahawks, and Miller has his eyes on one UM blocker in particular for Seattle.

“Do you go back to those Michigan roots (with) Zak Zinter?” he said.

Zinter started his college career as a guard and was a first-team all-conference selection there in 2022. He moved to center in 2023 as Olu Oluwatimi, a Seahawks draft pick last year, graduated. Zinter shined there, too, and was a unanimous All-American selection. But he broke his leg in Michigan’s last game of the regular season and missed the Big Ten Championship Game and the College Football Playoff.

“(The injury is) gonna make him a much better value in this draft class,” Miller said. “Do you wait on a Zak Zinter and say, ‘We’ve seen this, we’re comfortable with this,’ and kind of marry the two systems together a little bit.”

As for Washington, Miller pointed to one of Grubb’s top weapons over the last two years: Wide receiver Jalen McMillan.

“Jalen to me is exactly what Grubb’s offense needs,” he said.

There is a potential issue with the fit, though, as the Seahawks have a noteworthy receiver trio already in DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and 2023 first-round pick Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

“So I don’t know that we see that play out necessarily, but it is certainly a fit of this is probably the type of player that they’re looking for,” Miller said.

Additionally, Miller thinks UW offensive tackle Troy Fautanu could be an option for the Seahawks with their first-round pick. Fautanu was a tackle in college, but many think he could be a standout guard in the NFL.

What about players who didn’t play at Michigan or Washington? Miller is a big fan of a defender UW saw late last season.

“I still think (defensive tackle) Byron Murphy, he’s perfect for Macdonald’s defense,” he said. “That’s your Justin Madubuike-type player.”

Murphy, an All-American at Texas, played against UW in the Sugar Bowl in the first round of the College Football Playoff. He’s considered to be a first-round talent and may be the first defensive tackle drafted.

Madubuike, a third-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2020, shined for Macdonald, especially in 2023 when he was an All-Pro player and ultimately received a lucrative contract extension.

“I would be very excited to see (Murphy to Seattle),” Miller said. “Obviously offensive line has been something a lot of people have talked about, but if Byron Murphy is there, I think you take him. If he’s not then, you talk about trading back.”

As for a late-round target, Miller likes Louisville defensive back Jarvis Brownlee.

“He reminds me of that just hard-nosed players who is physical in everything that they do,” he said. “And Jarvis is going to be like a round four player, so not necessarily an early round pick.”

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 and the 2024 NFL Draft

• Huard’s Seahawks Draft Profile: A ‘flat-out baller’ at safety
• Brock’s Seahawks Draft Profile: A fullback option for the offense
• ESPN’s Yates: How early Michael Penix may go in the NFL Draft
• Seahawks Mock Draft Roundup: Could Penix be reunited with Grubb?

Brock and Salk podcast

Brock and Salk


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