Which Seahawks rookies will make an immediate impact?

May 15, 2024, 2:04 PM

Seattle Seahawks...

Christian Haynes of the Seattle Seahawks works out during rookie minicamp in 2024. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The NFL Draft has proven to be a fruitful avenue of roster improvement for the Seattle Seahawks in recent years.

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Over the past two drafts, the Seahawks have found a number of starters and contributors on both sides of the ball. In 2022, the Seahawks selected a pair of starting tackles in Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas, an electric running back in Kenneth Walker II and a fifth-round gem in cornerback Riq Woolen. Last year, Seattle picked a Rookie of the Year contender cornerback Devon Witherspoon, starting wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba and guard Anthony Bradford, who started 10 games last season.

“If you look at the last couple of drafts and look at this one, as far as a prospect coming up, they’ve had a lot of guys that have contributed,” former Seahawks linebacker Dave Wyman said.

Did Seattle find more players who could make an impact in their first season during this year’s draft? Wyman and co-host Bob Stelton analyzed the situation Tuesday on Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob.

“You expect it out of (first-round defensive tackle) Byron Murphy, certainly,” Stelton said. “and I think (guard) Christian Haynes, there’s a lot of expectation even though he’s a third-rounder, which is still high. That’s not, ‘hey, we’re taking a flyer.’ That’s a guy you expect to be something for this team, and there’s a lot of excitement about what he brings to the table. Those are the two guys I have expectations of.”

Murphy was the second defensive player taken off the board when the Seahawks picked him No. 16 overall. The Texas product was considered by many to be the top defensive tackle in the draft, and he could help shore up Seattle’s run defense, which has been one of the NFL’s worst for two straight seasons.

Haynes, the 81st overall selection out of Connecticut, fills the Seahawks’ other glaring need as a potential answer on the interior of the offensive line. He’ll likely be in competition for the job at right guard with Haynes, and potentially at left guard with veteran offseason addition Laken Tomlinson.

After that, the Seahawks have a mix of six players who were selected on the third day of the draft.

O-line picks approved by Hall of Famer

As mentioned above, there’s fairly high expectations for Haynes to step in and be an immediate contributor. He was widely considered a strong pick by the Seahawks in the third round, both from a talent and positional-need standpoint.

Wyman pointed out that the remaining picks on the offensive line – sixth-rounders Sataoa Laumea and Michael Jerrell – have also received high praise from somebody that knows the O-line well. That would be Pro Football Hall of Fame member Steven Hutchinson, who starred at left guard in Seattle from 2001-05 and is now a consultant for the franchise.

“He loved all three of the offensive lineman,” Wyman said of Hutchinson. “Laumea, the kid from Utah, and Michael Jerrell, as well. And the thing he said about it was that these guys are nasty. They’re nasty, but they’re really smart players. So maybe Laumea is the guy – the sixth-rounder that shows up and plays – which would be awesome on the offensive line because I think they really need (it), especially on that interior part, and he can he can play guard.”

An interesting battle brewing

Cornerback wasn’t necessarily thought of as a position the Seahawks need to attack in the draft, but they took a somewhat aggressive approach by spending a pair of picks on corners out of the same school. Fifth-rounder Nehemiah Pritchett and sixth-rounder D.J. James join a crowded cornerback room that includes 2023 No. 5 overall pick Witherspoon, Woolen and returning contributors Tre Brown and Mike Jackson.

“There’s a battle there to be had, whether it’s Bryant, Woolen or Tre Brown or Mike Jackson – all of them are involve,” Stelton said. “I don’t know who’s in most jeopardy of losing their spot, but they drafted those guys for a reason.”

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Seattle’s track record of late-round defensive backs includes some very recognizable names. Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Woolen and Jeremy Lane were all selected in the fifth-round or later. Those are lofty expectations to place on third-day rookies, but the Seahawks’ track record brings reason for optimism.

“Both cornerbacks out of Auburn, that that to me is going to be the most fascinating battle on the team,” Stelton said.

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

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Which Seahawks rookies will make an immediate impact?