How Seahawks showed ‘really good’ strategy by passing on Fautanu

May 3, 2024, 1:31 PM

Seattle Seahawks NFL Draft Profile...

Troy Fautanu of the Washington Huskies looks on during a 2022 game. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

In the week’s leading up to the NFL Draft, mock draft after mock draft predicted standout UW Huskies offensive lineman Troy Fautanu to land with the Seattle Seahawks in the first round at pick No. 16.

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The Seahawks had an obvious need on the interior of the offensive line, and Fautanu, who is a candidate to move from tackle to guard in the NFL, just finished playing for new Seattle offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb and offensive line coach Scott Huff in college. It seemed to many as the practical pick.

The Seahawks didn’t go the route many thought, though. With Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy II left on the board after a historic run of offensive selections, Seattle jumped on a player it viewed as the best defensive prospect available.

Pro Football Focus draft analyst Trevor Sikkema joined Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy on Tuesday for a conversation about the Seahawks’ draft class, and he saw Seattle’s decision to take Murphy over Fautanu as a strong strategy for the picks it had.

“I didn’t mind it at all, especially for the talent that Byron Murphy is,” Sikkema said. “I had Jer’Zhan Newton from Illinois, the interior defensive lineman, ranked ahead of Byron Murphy, but they were both right there and they were both top-15 players on my board. So to get him where they did at No. 16, that’s kind of that (best-player-available) approach that people talk about all the time.”

Sikkema said that Fautanu would have filled a more pressing need and he expected the Seahawks to take him in the first round, but that the approach of drafting the best player available over need is a proven one.

“Byron Murphy I expect to be a mainstay on this defensive line for years,” Sikkema said. “So it’s really hard to argue that pick just because of need and, in fact, I think the draft is normally operated well when you go more towards best player available than need. I think it’s a balance of both, but I think anybody out there would tell you that you can’t pass up on these good players just because you may have had a need here and there. You often draft for much longer than just the 2024 season.”

Sikkema pointed towards free agency as where teams should be going to fill an immediate need like Seattle has on the interior of the offensive line. The Seahawks have brought in some bodies on the O-line this offseason, most notably veteran guard Laken Tomlinson. The 32 year old signed a one-year deal with the team in April and has started 14 or more games in eight of his nine NFL seasons, including every game since the start of 2016 while playing for the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets.

What impressed Sikkema the most about the Seahawks’ draft is how the pick played into the overall depth of prospects.

“When you look at how this draft was constructed and the depth of it, there was going to be a good interior offensive lineman (available to Seattle in a later round),” Sikkema said. “Now I didn’t think that (Seahawks’ third-rounder) Christian Haynes, one of my favorite players in the draft, was going to get to them at No. 81, but there was going to be somebody along the interior offensive line who they knew they could pick in the third round. Whereas if you flip it, you go Fautanu in the first round, (there’s) not really a lot of interior defensive lineman who could be anything close to the impact of Byron Murphy could have.

“So to me, the bigger need (was) along the interior offensive line, no doubt about it. But to get Murphy where they did and then to get Haynes was evidence of a really good draft strategy and really good prep work before draft weekend.”

Listen to the full conversation with Pro Football Focus draft analyst Trevor Sikkema 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.-2 p.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

More Seattle Seahawks coverage

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