The Seahawks Drafted More Non-Quarterbacks On Day Three

The next few years of Seahawks football are going to be greatly dictated by how well these players pan out. Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, the Seahawks are in Rebuilding Mode. Now, this isn’t your grandfather’s Rebuilding Mode; it shouldn’t have to take a decade to get back to the promised land if you do things right. But, by foresaking the quarterback position in this draft – leaving us with Geno Smith, Drew Lock, and We’ll See – my expert analysis is that the Seahawks are planning on finding their quarterback of the future in the 2023 NFL Draft.

As they should.

So, what does that mean for 2022? Well, that means building up the roster around the quarterback position. Constructing this warm and fuzzy protective cocoon, where a rookie QB in 2023 can step right in and at least give us competence. How many careers have been derailed because a rookie quarterback’s confidence was destroyed by a terrible offensive line, or a lack of weapons to get the football to? Sometimes, if your team is truly terrible, you have no choice but to take that quarterback (usually #1 overall) and hope for the best. But, I’d rather do what I suspect the Seahawks are doing now, and hold off for a year until a better opportunity presents itself.

In the process of building up the roster around the quarterback position, that means returning to the mantra of Always Compete. Letting anyone and everyone participate in fighting for starting jobs. Coaching them up, throwing them out there in live NFL games, and seeing who rises to the top and who needs to be cut. The Seahawks have drafted a class for this express purpose. The more starters we find, the better the team will be going forward. The more blue chip superstars we find, the likelier it’ll be that we can return to a championship level.

I’m pretty confident we’ve got our Day 1 starting left tackle in Cross. I’m guessing he’ll be fine. I’m also pretty confident – with Abe Lucas at least as competition for the spot – we’ve locked down our right tackle position, either with him or Jake Curhan. I’m guessing they’ll also be fine. Walker will likely back up Rashaad Penny at first, but I think at some point he’ll take over and at least be a quality rotational running back, if not an outright stud. And, I think the floor for Boye Mafe is Alton Robinson. I hope he’s significantly BETTER than Alton Robinson, but he’ll at least be NFL-ready to step in there and contribute in some capacity.

There’s a floor there with all of the picks from the first two days of the draft where they’re at least contributing to the team. There’s also, of course, a ceiling that could be off the charts, depending on how they fit within our system and how the coaching staff gets them to improve.

But, it’s the Day 3 picks where we could see some dividends. How did we build up that last Seahawks championship squad? Lots of success in the 4th-7th rounds. I’ll go in order, for those who forgot: Walter Thurmond, Kam Chancellor, Anthony McCoy, K.J. Wright, Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell, Malcolm Smith, Robert Turbin, Jeremy Lane, J.R. Sweezy, Luke Willson. To say nothing of the undrafted guys we selected from 2010-2013 who contributed greatly to what we were doing.

It’s handy that the Seahawks took cornerbacks back-to-back in this draft, because I’d like to talk about them together. Bryant won the Jim Thorpe Award in 2021 for the best defensive back in football. He played at Cincinnati opposite Sauce Gardner, which means that teams probably avoided Gardner’s side like the plague, and therefore Bryant had ample opportunities to defend the pass. Why he fell to the fourth round, then, is a mystery.

Bryant is certainly the more polished cornerback between him and Woolen. He seems to be a higher floor/lower ceiling type of player. It wouldn’t shock me to see him contribute right away, but I fully expect him to see considerable snaps as the season progresses. Woolen, on the other hand, looks like a fascinating prospect whose floor could be as a training camp cut, but whose ceiling could be as an All Pro.

6’4, 4.26 40-yard dash, 42-inch vertical. This guys looks like an athletic freak. He’s also, notably, a former wide receiver who converted to corner just a few years ago. His skills are raw and there are liabilities in his game as it currently stands that may prevent him from ever making a dent in the league. That being said, if he works at it, and the team is able to unlock his potential – with the athleticism he already possesses – he could be an absolute monster. There’s a lot to clean up, though, so I wouldn’t bank on it.

If the Seahawks just drafted bookend starters at cornerback to go with bookend starters at offensive tackle, I’d say we’re in good shape for the next half-decade or so. If the Seahawks just found one eventual starting cornerback in this class, I’d say they did their job well. If neither of these guys pan out, then I think we have a serious problem. Because, either we brought in the next Tre Flowers – who we’re forced to start because we have no better alternatives – or we have to go back to the drawing board next year (with Sidney Jones on a 1-year deal, and with Tre Brown still a big question mark).

Just as I’m not holding my breath for Boye Mafe in the second round, I’m not convinced Tyreke Smith will be much of anything either. I know elite pass rushers exist from outside the Top 5 of the NFL Draft, but it seems like those guys are total unicorns. Even with someone like Darrell Taylor – who I’m very happy with – he had to miss a year due to injury, and even then wasn’t, like, a Pro Bowler or anything in 2021. He was fine. He showed potential to be even better, but we’ll see if that comes to fruition.

I would project both Mafe and Smith as third down pass rushing specialists, especially as rookies. I wouldn’t expect either to be very good against the run, though Mafe at least has a better track record in that regard. Smith seems like a blind dart throw. Alton Robinson is probably his ceiling, but his floor is probably a special teamer who rarely – if ever – sees a snap on defense.

I don’t know what to say about Bo Melton or Dareke Young, the 7th round receivers we brought in. Melton seems to have a slot receiver build, but I don’t even know if that’s his forte or not. Young is a much taller receiver from a small school who probably projects more as special teams help. Of the two, Melton probably has the better chance of seeing offensive snaps, but let’s not kid ourselves here. We have quite the depth chart going so far, with Lockett, Metcalf, Swain, and Eskridge/Hart all having experience.

If anything, I wonder what this says about Eskridge’s status. He didn’t show a lot as a rookie last year, though a concussion saw to it that he wasn’t able to play a ton. Nevertheless, when he was in there, he didn’t make much of an impact. I don’t know if Melton plays a similar style or not (word is Young actually has played all around the offense in college, even taking handoffs on the regular, like a taller version of Deebo Samuel), but it’ll be interesting to see the pressure on Eskridge and how he responds.

That being said, probably don’t count on these rookie receivers to do much of anything AS rookies. Just take it as a win if they even make the team.

The 2022 draft class by the Seahawks will be defined by the top six guys we selected. The better those players are, the better our chances will be to turn this thing around in a hurry. If they struggle, though, it could be a long, dark period in our immediate future.

Seahawks Position Breakdown 2021: Wide Receivers

I guess I don’t know why people are so worried about the wide receiver position for the Seahawks. Do you know how many fanbases would LOVE to have two of the very best receivers in the game, in the primes of their careers? There isn’t a better wide receiver duo, pound-for-pound, in the entire NFL right now than D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett; I’ll give you Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, if you want to include tight ends, but that’s it (and I would argue, given where Metcalf is in his career so far, he’s more valuable at 23 than Kelce is at 31).

But, what do Seahawks fans obsess over? “Who’s going to be the #3 and #4 receivers?”

WHO GIVES A SHIT?!

I mean, let’s get real, people. Who was our #3 receiver last year? David Moore. I think we did okay with David Moore getting 35 receptions on 47 targets, and I’m pretty sure we can back-fill the David Moore spot with whoever the fuck is still on our roster.

Look, I get it. It would be nice if ALL of our receivers were Pro Bowlers. Hell, why not have 53 All Pros on our roster, wouldn’t that be neat?! The fact that we have two elite receivers – who are going to command the lion’s share of the targets, mind you – should be good enough. Let’s not be greedy. Remember David Moore’s 47 targets last year? Again, it was third-most on the team. Do you know how many Lockett and Metcalf had? 132 and 129 respectively. Of the 563 pass attempts made in 2020, 261 were thrown to those two guys; doing the math, that means 46% of all throws went to two guys. The other 54% of throws were spread out to 13 other guys.

The point is, it doesn’t really matter who those other 13 guys are when you have Metcalf and Lockett.

Dee Eskridge was the big draft pick for us this year. Second round speedster with a Tyreek Hill upside, he figures to be given every opportunity to win the #3 job this season. At the very least, you figure the team will find a way to incorporate him into the offense with some gadget plays or something. But, he’s been dealing with a foot injury, and therefore hasn’t been able to practice. That IS concerning. It’s not The Sky Is Falling-level concerning, but something closer to “Do I wait to finish this thought before I go to the bathroom, or stop mid-sentence and risk losing my … what was I talking about?”

It’s more of a bummer, than anything. Eskridge’s potential is so exciting! Especially in an offense with a Top 5 quarterback and two Top 10 receivers already. If he pans out, do you know what this could mean for us? The mind boggles! Unfortunately, it’s a toe/foot injury, which is kind of the worst-case scenario for a wide receiver, especially one who relies most on his speed. Apparently, it’s non-surgical. And, also apparently, they found him a shoe to wear that is helping heal whatever’s going on. He’s expected to come off of the PUP list in the next few days, so all hope isn’t lost. But, we’re in the middle of the pre-season now (he’ll likely miss the first two games of the three we’ve got), so you can’t say he hasn’t been set back at least a little.

But, again, I’m not too worried. If you think about it like I do – that we’re just replacing David Moore – then we’ve got PLENTY of guys already on our roster who can do that. We certainly don’t need to go out in free agency to find someone more expensive! And, when Eskridge is ready, he should be a built-in step-up in that department over David Moore, just as soon as he gets used to the level of play in the NFL.

Freddie Swain is the natural Next Man Up in this scenario. He was a rookie last year and as far as rookie receivers go, I thought he was pretty good! Especially for someone drafted in the sixth round; what do you expect? I thought he was every bit as good as David Moore already, with upside to be even better. The fact of the matter is, we don’t yet know his ceiling, though everyone seems to think they do. The Seahawks liked Swain enough to trust him as a rookie; I’m pretty sure they know what they’re doing.

John Ursua is another late-round draft pick, from 2019, who is fighting to make the 53-man roster. He’s had a tough go of it so far, but he’s still here! Either that means the Seahawks still like him, or he has no other viable suitors (since he was on the practice squad for most of 2020, any team could’ve claimed him if they really wanted him). I’m not super sure what he offers you other than “good hands”, but we saw him try to return punts in the pre-season game last week, so I guess he’s attempting to expand his special teams repertoire (the knock on him was that he was Just A Receiver, and as a result probably needed to find himself in the Top 3 or 4 to reasonably make the roster, since the last 1-2 receivers are usually special teams guys).

Penny Hart was one of those players for the Seahawks last year, playing almost exclusively on special teams. I don’t really know what he is as a receiver, but we’ll see if he has any good will carry over for an opportunity to actually play some on offense in 2021.

I’m not going to write about every single wide receiver the Seahawks have in camp, since the majority won’t make the team. I will say that there’s usually one surprise guy who stands out and finds a way onto the team (a la Hart last year). There’s also usually a pre-season darling who crushes it in the games, but fails to make the team (much to the dismay of fans). This year’s Kasen Williams Memorial candidate appears to be Aaron Fuller, who made a name for himself at the University of Washington, and had 1 catch for 17 yards against the Raiders last week. I expect great things from him the next two weeks, only to be cut before the regular season.

Overall, I’m giving the wide receiver room an A grade. I’m obviously weighting my grade to reflect the fact that the top two guys get nearly half the targets. Their production, combined with the amount of attention they generate from opposing defenses (which, in turn, will open things up for all the other guys on offense), makes this easily one of the best units on the team. Of course, injuries could decimate this grade, as the depth isn’t there. But, really, who in the NFL has the kind of depth that can withstand injuries to your top two guys? And if Eskridge pans out, there’s still room for growth! I could not be more pleased with what the Seahawks are running out there at wide receiver.