Seattle Sports Hell 2022 NFL Power Rankings #3

A little shake-up at the top, a lot of shake-up in the middle, and even a little nudge at the very bottom. It’s a wild and wacky (distracted) power rankings, so let me get it over with get to it.

High Tier

1 – Philadelphia Eagles
2 – Dallas Cowboys
3 – Buffalo Bills
4 – Kansas City Chiefs
5 – Minnesota Vikings

I can’t deny it anymore. I still question how viable the Eagles would be in a potential Super Bowl situation against the likes of the Bills or Chiefs, but they’re undefeated and look pretty great on both sides of the ball. Dallas catches a little boost as well, thanks to their elite defense and their good-enough offense. I still like the Bills over the Chiefs, but it’s unnerving that the Bills are prone to bad games against inferior opponents. And the Vikings just keep winning somehow! At this rate, they’re going to lock up the NFC North by Thanksgiving!

Medium-High Tier

6 – Miami Dolphins
7 – Baltimore Ravens
8 – San Francisco 49ers
9 – Tennessee Titans
10 – L.A. Chargers

I was highly impressed by the Ravens winning on Monday night in spite of most of their offensive weapons being injured. The Titans got dinged, but they also impressed by hanging tough against the Chiefs in spite of playing with a nothing QB. You can’t rate them super high as long as Malik Willis is under center, but everyone around him (including the coaches) is top notch.

Medium Tier

11 – Cincinnati Bengals
12 – Seattle Seahawks
13 – New York Giants
14 – Atlanta Falcons
15 – Tampa Bay Bucs
16 – Washington Commanders

I’m so very close to moving the Bengals and Seahawks up a tier. Any week now! I decided to break up the medium tier, because there were too many teams here, and because these medium teams are greatly differentiated by the next tier down. I think all of these teams are playoff contenders; I think all the teams below them are … not. Real impressed with Washington continuing to play teams tough in spite of all the turmoil around them. The Bucs are real interesting to me as well; I wonder if we’ll see improved play by them now that Tom Brady’s divorce is final.

Medium-Low Tier

17 – New England Patriots
18 – New York Jets
19 – L.A. Rams
20 – Green Bay Packers
21 – New Orleans Saints
22 – Chicago Bears
23 – Arizona Cardinals
24 – Denver Broncos

Mac Jones fucking sucks. Zach Wilson fucking sucks even more. The Rams are an all-around disaster (I think Stafford’s arm issues are limiting him greatly). The Packers are an even-bigger disaster, for all the obvious reasons. The Saints are stupid for continuing to start Andy Dalton over Jameis Winston (my quarterback-needy fantasy teams hate them for this as well). The Bears won’t be good until Fields can do something other than run with the ball (my dynasty league team loves him for this, though). The Cardinals won’t be good until they clean house from the top down. And the Broncos needed that BYE week in the worst way.

Low Tier

25 – Las Vegas Raiders
26 – Cleveland Browns
27 – Detroit Lions
28 – Jacksonville Jaguars
29 – Carolina Panthers
30 – Houston Texans
31 – Indianapolis Colts
32 – Pittsburgh Steelers

What happened to the fucking Raiders?! Nothing is as crazy as the Colts though, who seemingly have talent on defense, but are going with an atrocious quarterback, and just fired their head coach. That’s a team that’s intentionally tanking for a top pick. The problem is, they’re in the mix with a bunch of other teams, and that tie they got is doing them little favors. They might need to lose out to make a dent.

Defending The Seahawks On This Kenneth Walker Pick

There’s a weird consensus around what the Seattle Seahawks did in this 2022 NFL Draft. People seem to be heartened by the fact that the Seahawks filled some very important holes, and they did so by not reaching. You didn’t hear a lot of chatter about how the Seahawks took guys most experts projected a round or two later. If anything, you heard chatter about how well the Seahawks picked certain guys who might’ve fallen to them unexpectedly. There was, of course, only one trade-back, and it happened well into the third day. Not a lot of fucking around by the Seahawks; as a fan, I appreciated it.

But, the downside to what the Seahawks did – again this is the opinion of the Consensus At Large I’m talking about here – is that they totally and completely neglected the quarterback position, while at the same time taking a running back with the 41st pick.

I’m on record, first of all, that you can’t call this the worst quarterback draft class in recent history – maybe the worst class of the last 2-3 decades – and then give the Seahawks a reduced draft grade for not taking one. Are you listening to yourself? Just because the Seahawks are rolling with Geno Smith and Drew Lock at the moment – and believe me, I’m no fan of either – doesn’t mean they should have doubled down by drafting a guy who’s not going to be any better than them. What’s the point of bringing in a third mediocre QB to throw into the mix? What is Malik Willis going to do to help us win a championship?

That’s one argument I refuse to have. If any of these rookie QBs eventually pan out, then we can have that conversation. But, don’t pretend like you’re out here touting these guys who the NFL passed over multiple times in this very draft!

The other issue is the simple fact the Seahawks took a running back in the second round. I can see this argument, at least, so let’s talk about it.

The Seahawks very much had a need at running back. Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, and Travis Homer are all on the final season of their respective deals, while DeeJay Dallas has two years remaining. Carson is currently injured – with a significant, probably career-ending neck issue – and there’s no sign he’ll be ready to play this year or ever again. So, I would discount him immediately; even if he’s cleared by doctors, it wouldn’t shock me to see the team cut him. Rashaad Penny – until late last year – has been constantly injured throughout his career. That’s the whole reason why he only signed a 1-year extension with us! He’s good, maybe even elite, but I’ll believe it when I see it that he can stay on the field for a full season, let alone multiple seasons. And Travis Homer is strictly a backup in this league; he’s just a guy and not even all that good of one, from a football-talent perspective. For what it’s worth, ditto DeeJay Dallas.

The prevailing theory on running backs in the NFL is that quality backs can be found anywhere, all the way down into the 7th round and even among the undrafted rookies. Just get a guy, plug him into your lineup, and you should be fine. These are also, usually, the same people who want to throw the ball 95% of the time, so I don’t know if I’m totally buying what they’re selling. Travis Homer (a 6th rounder) and DeeJay Dallas (a 4th rounder) would seem to argue against the notion you can get a good back anywhere. But, by that same token, Chris Carson (7th rounder) and how great he’s been when healthy is all the ammo they need. Not to mention Rashaad Penny (1st rounder) is the poster child for why you DON’T draft a running back high.

I guess my question, then, is when is it NOT too early to draft a running back? What’s the line of demarcation?

Let’s just, for the sake of argument, look at the NFL’s rushing leaders from last year, and see where those guys were selected:

  1. Jonathan Taylor (2nd round, 41st overall)
  2. Nick Chubb (2nd round, 35th overall)
  3. Joe Mixon (2nd round, 48th overall)
  4. Najee Harris (1st round, 24th overall)
  5. Dalvin Cook (2nd round, 41st overall)
  6. Antonio Gibson (3rd round, 66th overall)
  7. Ezekiel Elliott (1st round, 4th overall)
  8. Elijah Mitchell (6th round, 194th overall)
  9. Derrick Henry (2nd round, 45th overall)
  10. Damien Harris (3rd round, 87th overall)
  11. Melvin Gordon (1st round, 15th overall)
  12. Austin Ekeler (undrafted)
  13. Javonte Williams (2nd round, 35th overall)
  14. Alvin Kamara (3rd round, 67th overall)
  15. Josh Jacobs (1st round, 24th overall)

I could keep going and going. So, for you anti-running back crowd, where’s the cutoff? I know there’s a contingent who thinks even the third round is too early! Yet, of the top 15 running backs last year, 13 of them were taken in the third round or higher. 10 of them were in the first or second rounds. In fact, the sweet spot seems to be right around pick 41, where both Taylor and Cook were selected, to say nothing of Derrick Henry – running back god – who was taken four picks later.

So, if there were no good quarterbacks to be had, and the Seahawks had a pretty urgent need for a quality running back (both to replenish their own supply, as well as to help compensate for shaky quarterbacking we’ve got on our roster currently), why would you shit-talk this team for doing the prudent thing and taking the best running back available? When MOST of the best running backs are taken somewhere in this range, and there was a pretty obvious drop-off in talent in this draft after Breece Hall was nabbed at 36 by the Jets.

For that matter, why aren’t the Jets getting as much shit for taking a running back five spots earlier?!

The next running back off the board went to the Bills at 63; his name is James Cook, and at least one article I read noted him as being among the most overrated coming out of this class.

You jump in there, take the reins of the Seahawks’ draft, and you tell me who you would’ve taken instead. We’d just grabbed Boye Mafe at 40; our third rounder was Abe Lucas at 72. Between those guys and Charles Cross at 9, we addressed our offensive line and got a pass rushing lotto ticket.

I don’t see a lot of point in taking one of the second or third-tier wide receivers, when we already have Lockett and are looking to extend Metcalf. David Ojabo stands out as a name, that would’ve been an idea (especially since it looks like we’re quasi-throwing out the 2022 season anyway). Maybe the center, Cam Jurgens, who went to Philly. Maybe a talented inside linebacker. I dunno, it’s easy to speculate now, but let’s revisit this in a year or two and see who among the players between 41 and 72 turned out to be better than Kenneth Walker.

I mean, this could all blow up in my face and Walker could be a collosal bust in the vein of Christine Michael. But, as I also said previously, just because you get bitten in the ass before by taking crappy running backs too high, that doesn’t mean you just give up on the entire concept. If Walker turns out to be a stud – like Taylor, like Cook – who doesn’t want that on their team? Who looks at Jonathan Taylor and thinks, “Nah, I’d rather have some pass rushing project who will probably cap out at 6 sacks per season.” That’s insane!

Like it or hate it, the Seahawks love to run the football. Who’s going to get a better opportunity to shine – not just as a rookie, but over the next four years – than Kenneth Walker? Rashaad Penny would not only have to prove the last 5-6 weeks weren’t a fluke, but he’ll also have to stay healthy for 17 games in order to keep Walker at bay. And, even then, it might not be enough, if indeed Walker is as good as we think he might be.

You gotta really look at a team, its needs, and its scheme, before you can start throwing out these opinions about how idiotic it is to take a running back at 41. I guarantee you the Colts and Vikings aren’t regretting it. And, I don’t care who’s under center, Walker is only going to be an even bigger help as we throw against 8-man boxes. Let Lockett get underneath some deep balls. Let Metcalf go up and catch passes in traffic. They’re going to be just fine. The play-action game is going to be off the charts.

And when we finally do get our quarterback of the future in the 2023 class? He’ll be stepping into a fantastic situation. Walker should have everything to say about just how great it’ll be.

The Seahawks Drafted Some Non-Quarterbacks On Day Two

It’s really only noteworthy given the fact that by the time the Seahawks picked in the third round, all quarterbacks aside from Kenny Pickett were still available. So, the Seahawks passed over a bunch of mediocre dudes repeatedly through this draft, allowing me to breathe a HUGE sigh of relief.

Is it weird to feel such good vibes about this draft? I’m not saying it’s universally beloved or anything. Some people really wanted us to get Malik Willis. A lot of people REALLY hate the idea of using any draft capital above the fourth round on a running back. I’m sure if you really drill down, you’ll find people complaining about so-and-so being available at a particular spot that we passed over.

But, I gotta tell ya, based solely on who the Seahawks have added the last two days? You’d think we’re absolutely KILLING it!

Which I can’t help but take as a bad sign. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because we’re not allowed to have nice things.

The more tidbits that roll in, the more I’m coming around on Cross. Some have even said he was the second LT on the board for the Seahawks, which might just be something the team wants leaked out there to boost their guy, but regardless it’s positive vibes out into the universe that I like at this point (having no idea how they look in minicamps and whatnot). But, as I noted yesterday, there’s nothing wrong with his athleticism; he has everything he needs to be a viable starter in this league. The team just needs to help him unlock it.

That goes for the guys we drafted last night as well. Athleticism seems to be a key theme, which I absolutely adore. We’re not just bringing in High Floor guys who we can plug in as depth; these are players with lots of room for growth, and lots of potential to be starters and even stars.

Now, the risk – as always – is that they just don’t have it. You can have all the athleticism in the world, but if you don’t have the skills or the want-to, then it won’t happen. Or, arguably worse: it happens, but not during the tenure of your rookie deal. The point of this whole thing – stripping down to the studs (so to speak) of the quarterback position, building up the roster elsewhere, and then nailing our QB of the future in next year’s draft – is to get guys who can help immediately. Guys who can legitimately get their feet wet as rookies, only to step into major starting roles in year two and beyond. This doesn’t work if it takes four years to coach these guys up.

If I’m worried about that for anyone among yesterday’s picks, it’s Boye Mafe, our edge player out of Minnesota. A LOT of Cliff Avril comps, which yeah, that’d be great! But, odds are … probably not. The broadcast seemed to believe he was a one-note type of rusher (I’m not even sure what that note was, I guess speed-rush around the edge?), hence why he fell to the second round. But, there have been lots of love on Twitter since he was drafted, which leads me to believe we might’ve gotten someone special to pair opposite of Darrell Taylor. The more the merrier, when it comes to quality pass rushers. I just hope we use him properly, and don’t spend most of our time dropping him into coverage (it didn’t sound like he had a lot of experience with that, nor was he very good at it).

The upside is a starting defensive end getting 10 sacks a year. The downside is probably a poor man’s Benson Mayowa.

If there was a Most Seahawky Pick heading into this draft, it was Kenneth Walker III, the running back out of Michigan State. Highly productive in college, speedy but also tough, breaks lots of tackles and gets lots of yards after initial contact, and obviously he’s also a running back. Not only a position of need (when you have to believe Chris Carson’s career is over, with that significant neck injury), but a position the Seahawks love to covet and value over most of the rest of the league.

There’s no doubt about it, though: the Seahawks do NOT have a great track record in drafting running backs. Easily our biggest “hit” was Chris Carson in the 7th round, but he’s spent every year in various states of injured. Our other good choices were guys who ended up being blocked and having better careers elsewhere (Alex Collins and Spencer Ware). Otherwise, we’ve only managed to find competent backups (Robert Turbin, Travis Homer, DeeJay Dallas), or out-and-out busts (Rashaad Penny until the last five-or-so weeks of last year, C.J. Prosise, Zac Brooks, Christine Michael).

How are the Seahawks at drafting running backs?

But, that doesn’t mean you stop trying. And, while I’m pretty adamantly against picking a running back anywhere in the first round – the Penny debacle saw to that – I think it’s okay when you have a need at the position, and you have multiple second round picks to play around with.

Great running backs are taken in the second round all the damn time! That’s generally where we’ve found our very best NFL running backs in recent years. Also, not for nothing, but I like seeing the Seahawks take the second running back off the board, as opposed to the first. There’s a lot of pressure on that first guy! Admittedly, I’ve been on the Breece Hall bandwagon ever since I read an article saying he was projected to be a great fantasy back. But, I have no qualms about the Seahawks taking Walker whatsoever. I feel like the only thing that could slow him down is injuries, but we couldn’t possibly have that bug hit us yet again, could we?!

I will say that I heard his pass protection isn’t great, nor are his hands catching footballs out of the backfield. The blocking thing can be taught; a lot of that is just effort and desire. But, the hands might be concerning, especially if the Seahawks do introduce more of the short passing game into the offense. We’ll see!

The upside is eventually taking the job from Rashaad Penny and being a 1,000 yard back for the next however many years. The downside is probably a rich man’s Christine Michael.

I know he’s listed as Abraham, but I prefer bringing him into my blog as Abe Lucas. Legit right tackle prospect (not a guy who played right tackle, but really projects to be a guard in the NFL, like so many we’ve brought in here before) out of Washington State, he looks like another athletic darling with immediate starting potential.

I’ll admit, I didn’t see the Seahawks going after two offensive tackles in this draft, especially not in the first three rounds. I gotta be honest, I was hoping to be the Smartest Guy In The Room here with my take that Jake Curhan would be our right tackle going forward. There’s still that chance, of course. Curhan has a year’s experience under his belt – including starts in real, live NFL games – but there’s a big difference between an undrafted prospect and a guy taken in the upper third round.

But, you know, the Seahawks will certainly play the best man for the job. If Curhan shows he’s got what it takes – and Lucas looks like a problematic rookie who might get beat – they’re not going to cater to a guy’s draft status. The thing I like is that we’re going young and we’re going home-grown at the position. Brandon Shell, and all the other retreads we brought in here during the majority of Russell Wilson’s tenure, were far from inspiring. When Breno Giacomini was easily the best RT we’ve had since the Mike Holmgren days, you know you’ve been floundering.

Also, not for nothing, but I was perfectly happy with what Curhan brought to the table last year. So, if that’s our floor, sign me up!

There is a tremendous amount of love for the Lucas pick though, which heartens me. Obviously, he comes from another Mike Leach-inspired offense full of non-stop passing, but there seems to be fewer questions about Lucas’ ability to run block. Again, when it comes to tackles – and really, the O-Line as a whole – I’ll gladly take guys with pass protection chops (who need to work on their run blocking skills) vs. the other way around.

The upside is the best right tackle we’ve ever had. The downside is Stone Forsythe.

Even though it’s not sexy, there’s a lot to like about this Seahawks draft so far. I would argue our drafts have been on a bit of an upswing in recent years, but this has the potential to be the best of the bunch. Not surprisingly, that’s what can happen when you’re a quality organization who FINALLY gets an opportunity to draft near the top of every round!