Analyst: How Seahawks made ‘smart decisions’ in NFL Draft

May 10, 2024, 1:38 PM | Updated: 1:47 pm

Seattle Seahawks tight end AJ Barner...

AJ Barner of the Seattle Seahawks during rookie minicamp in 2024. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks have largely garnered positive reviews for what they did just two weeks ago during the 2024 NFL Draft.

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Seattle covered multiple positional needs – most notably the offensive line – and by all accounts nailed their first two picks by getting highly regarded players where they needed it most. However, there were still picks that raised eyebrows and drew criticism. Some think fourth-round picks linebacker Tyrice Knight and tight end AJ Barner were reaches. Others think the team’s failure to draft a potential quarterback of the future was a mistake.

CBS Sports NFL Draft analyst Josh Edwards recently wrote about one questionable selection each NFL team made during the draft. There were two teams he didn’t find any problems with. One of those was the New Orleans Saints, the other was the Seahawks, who have now avoided making Edwards’ list of questionable picks for the second time in three years. He joined Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Thursday to discuss why he couldn’t find anything to question with Seattle’s draft.

Here was what Edwards wrote about the Seahawks:

For the second time in three years, I could not find a reason to complain about Seattle’s draft class. The franchise found value at every turn, especially UConn offensive guard Christian Haynes in the third round and Utah interior offensive lineman Sataoa Laumea in the sixth round.

Murphy was draft’s most ‘well-rounded’ DT

The Seahawks’ first-round pick seemingly fell into their lap with a historic run on offensive players leaving Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy II available at No. 16 overall. The team itself even admitted they didn’t think he’d be available at that point. Murphy was thought of as one of the top defensive players in the class and comes in with the potential to help shore up the Seahawks’ porous run defense. Seattle ranked near the bottom of the league against the run the past two seasons, finishing 31st in yards allowed in 2023 and 30th in 2022. The Texas product also figures to be a pass-rushing presence from the interior of the defensive front.

“I thought it was great value first and foremost,” Edwards said. “I thought he was the most well-rounded defense tackle in the class. He gives you that pass-rush ability, but he also gives you the run defense that maybe some of the other guys in the class were lacking a little bit in that regard.”

No problem with fourth-rounders

The most criticized picks of Seattle’s draft have unquestionably been Knight and Barner. Knight was a productive linebacker in college and even led the nation in solo tackles and ranked sixth in total tackles this past season, but many wonder if he can make the jump from playing in the smaller Conference USA at UTEP to the NFL. Knight did show some promising traits at the scouting combine, ranking first among linebackers in the bench press (21 reps of 225) and tied for first in the opening 10-yard split (1.54 seconds) of the 40-yard dash.

“I think Tyrice Knight is an incredibly athletic linebacker,” Edwards said. “(He’s) somebody that’s not going to be asked to play right away, having the free agent signings come in the way that Seattle did with Tyrell Dodson and Jerome Baker. So being able to sit him on the bench and allow him to continue to learn the game, especially the pace of the game coming from UTEP, I think is an ideal situation for him.”

Barner is viewed as a great blocking tight end with limited potential as a pass catcher after his time with reigning national champion Michigan. He has good size at 6 foot 6 and 255 pounds, but he wasn’t used much in the passing game with the Wolverines and his testing numbers left something to be desired. Barner didn’t test in any of the measurables at the scouting combine but did at Michigan’s pro day. His 4.84-second 40 time would’ve ranked last among tight ends at the combine and his other testing results were middle of the pack at best. Many feel Seattle could’ve gotten Barner or a similar player later on.

“We talked about (Michigan quarterback) J.J. McCarthy leading up to the draft and how run heavy that Michigan offense was,” Edwards said. “Well, it doesn’t necessarily allow a tight end to be able to show his pass catching abilities as well. So I think what you saw as a player that is really good as a run blocker, he’s good at pass protection, but (he’s) somebody that I think can offer a little bit more in terms of his pass catching ability once he’s given a larger opportunity at the next level.”

A savvy approach with CBs

The Seahawks added to the competition in the cornerback room with a pair picks, selecting Auburn’s Nehemiah Pritchett in the fifth round and teammate D.J. James in the sixth. That means Seattle now four full-time cornerbacks on the roster from the past three drafts, which includes 2022 fifth-round Riq Woolen and 2023 first-rounder Devon Witherspoon.

“I like the strategy of taking two cornerbacks, especially if you’re looking to fill out your roster,” Edwards said. “Once you get into day three, the likelihood that both of those players hit is incredibly low. It’s fantastic if both of them do. It’s a great problem to have. At the very least, you might be able to sneak them on your practice squad or trade them to another cornerback-needy team as the season you know comes closer, but taking two players at the same position is a is a strategy that the Packers have done for many years.”

Edwards noted both corners as having good size for the position. Pritchett is 6 foot and 190 pounds, and James is 6 foot and 175 pounds. Pritchett also displayed elite speed at the combine with a 4.36-second 40 time and was the higher draft pick, but Edwards is higher on James, who also played at Oregon in college.

“They both have that length, that height that you really look for at the position,” Edwards said, “because those 6-foot-plus cornerbacks, if you do somehow get beaten in man coverage, now you have the length to recover and make a play on the ball down the field. So I think taking a shot on those two players was incredibly savvy by the Seahawks organization that has really put together two, three really great draft classes over the past three years. I’m not surprised that they continue making smart decisions.”

Listen to the full conversation with CBS Sports draft analyst Josh Edwards at this link or in the audio player near the top of this story. Tune in to Wyman and Bob weekdays from 2-6 p.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

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• A rookie’s impression of Seattle Seahawks’ new coaches from UW
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Analyst: How Seahawks made ‘smart decisions’ in NFL Draft