Kimes: How offense-heavy draft could benefit Hawks’ defense

Apr 23, 2024, 3:43 PM | Updated: Apr 25, 2024, 7:23 pm

Laiatu Latu UCLA USC Seahawks draft...

Projected first-round pick Laiatu Latu of UCLA celebrates after sacking USC QB Caleb Williams. (Harry How/Getty Images)

(Harry How/Getty Images)

As the Seattle Seahawks overhaul their defense under defensive-minded first-year coach Mike Macdonald, they certainly will be looking for game-changing talent on that side of the ball in the early rounds of this week’s NFL Draft.

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However, the top of this year’s draft class is uniquely loaded with offensive talent. For instance, one recent NFL.com mock draft had offensive players selected with nine of the first 10 picks. By the time Seattle picks at No. 16 overall, that mock draft had just three defensive players off the board.

If a team like the Seahawks wants to prioritize defense with its first-round pick, is the offense-heavy nature atop this draft a good or bad thing? ESPN NFL analyst Mina Kimes was posed that question Tuesday during her appearance on Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy.

“It depends where you’re drafting,” Kimes said. “If you’re drafting where the Seahawks are, I love it, because it’s very possible that nine, even 10 offensive players go in the top 10. And if that happens, you’re picking some really talented (defensive) prospects (who fall to you).”

Kimes said this draft will provide great insight into Macdonald’s plan for Seattle’s defense.

Macdonald is considered one of the brightest young defensive minds in the league after a highly successful two-year run as the Baltimore Ravens’ defensive coordinator. He oversaw the NFL’s top-ranked scoring defense last season, when the Ravens became the first defense in league history to lead the NFL in points allowed, sacks and takeaways.

The defensive makeover is already well underway for Seattle, which parted ways this offseason with the linebacker tandem of Bobby Wagner and Jordyn Brooks and the safety duo of Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams.

“We’re going to learn a lot from this draft about Mike Macdonald – not just his view of the roster, but his view of the defense and what he wants it to look like and what kind of players he values,” Kimes said. “There’s an assumption that he’s just going to try to emulate Baltimore in every way. But first, there’s no (two-time All-Pro linebacker) Roquan Smith in this draft. Second, we don’t know that for sure (he’ll emulate Baltimore), necessarily. So I’ll be curious to see what kind of defensive players they go after, because I suspect they will certainly come out of this with heavy (emphasis on) defense.”

Kimes’ pick for Seattle at No. 16

When asked who she’d pick at No. 16 overall for the Seahawks, Kimes went with a popular choice – former UW Huskies offensive lineman Troy Fautanu. The the 6-foot-4, 317-pounder has been the most commonly projected first-round pick for Seattle, given the team’s need on the interior offensive line.

Fautanu primarily starred at left tackle for UW, but many believe his versatility and athleticism would allow him to move inside to guard. He received the Morris Trophy as the top offensive lineman in the Pac-12 this past season, helping anchor a standout offensive line that played an integral role in the Huskies’ run to the national championship game.

“My personal favorite would be Troy Fautanu, because I just think it’s such a perfect marriage of need on the interior of the offensive line and the positional versatility,” Kimes said. “… I think he’s super pro-ready and polished. Just an incredible athlete. I would love that for them.

“But after that, there’s a number of defensive linemen I’d be excited to see them go for: (Texas defensive tackle) Byron Murphy II, (Illinois defensive tackle) Jer’Zhan Newton, and then (UCLA edge rusher) Laiatu Latu and (Florida State edge rusher) Jared Verse. All good options.”

Listen to the full discussion with Mina Kimes at this link or in the audio player near the top of this story. Tune in to Bump and Stacy weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

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