The Seahawks Had An Unexciting Draft This Year

It’s interesting to go through the years – dating back to 2010, because I’m less into the idea of going back to the wild west days and trying to decipher a through-line – and see where things went right and where they went wrong. Obviously, the 2010-2012 drafts were epic and life-changing. But, there’s a real argument to be made that every single draft since then has been a failure.

Just scroll through this. Let’s leave 2022-2024 out of it, because there’s just not enough information to make a sound judgment in such a short period of time. But, 2013-2021? I think Seahawks fans with rose-colored glasses will say there have been peaks and valleys in our draft classes in this span. 2013 was pretty miserable and I don’t think anyone can really defend it at this point. But, if you want to think positively, you can say they’ve consistently found role players, contributors, and even starters.

In 2014, they got an offensive line starter in Justin Britt; in 2015, there was Frank Clark and Tyler Lockett. In 2016, there’s Germain Ifedi and Jarran Reed; in 2017, there’s Ethan Pocic and Shaquill Griffin. In 2018, you’re looking at Michael Dickson and Will Dissly; in 2019 there’s D.K. Metcalf. You could say 2020 was the start of a rebound by this organization, with guys like Jordyn Brooks, Darrell Taylor, and Damien Lewis rounding things out; but, also, almost this entire class is on other teams, and the three picks in 2021 produced absolutely no one.

Not a lot of second contracts in Seattle among this bunch. Lockett, Metcalf, and Dickson are the three greatest Seahawks draft picks since 2013. Everyone else were just role players, or able bodies who ate up an offensive line spot. But, no one has really flashed. No one has stood out. It’s all been pretty middling talent, which has led to middling results for this team.

I’m willing to believe in the 2022 and 2023 classes, because I think there’s a lot of meat on the bone. Charles Cross can still be great. Boye Mafe really took a big step in year two. Kenneth Walker is a fuckin’ stud. Abe Lucas, when healthy, can be a beast. Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen can be ball hawks in the right scheme. Devon Witherspoon clearly has All Pro type talent. Jaxon Smith-Njigba could be amazing if he’s unleashed in the right offense. Derick Hall has the body type to do great things, Zach Charbonnet flashed true elite greatness as a rookie, Anthony Bradford could be a mauler at guard, Cam Young and Mike Morris could be big bodies in a solid D-Line rotation, and Olu Oluwatimi figures to be in a battle for this year’s starting center job as a fifth round pick in his second season. That’s a lot of potential greatness just waiting to be unleashed by the right coaching staff.

But, then again, we’ve already seen the writing on the wall that many of these guys could be busts. Should it really take a left tackle in Charles Cross 3+ years to develop into a star? Shouldn’t that guy enter the league ready to take it by storm? You’ve got two second-round running backs in there, a devalued position that’s frequently getting itself injured. Speaking of injuries, Lucas appears to have a chronic knee issue, and it can only be a matter of time before Witherspoon – with the way he attacks players with reckless abandon – plays himself out of the league a la Jamal Adams. If Kam Chancellor had to retire early due to medicals, what makes you think some tiny dude like Witherspoon is going to last very long into a second contract? JSN sure looked pedestrian for his rookie season as the #1 receiver drafted; Mafe and Hall could both be one-trick ponies unable to set an edge or play at all against the run. There’s whispers about Woolen’s toughness and ability to stay healthy; I could go on and on picking these draft classes apart.

The thing is, I really want to believe in John Schneider. I want to believe it was Pete Carroll putting his foot down and leading to the worst personnel decisions of the last decade. But, I dunno. The last three draft classes – including this one that took place over the weekend – have had decidedly different feels compared to the ones that came before. It’s really felt like a Best Player Available festival, which is a strategy I hold near and dear to my heart. But, if we proceed to spend the next 3-5 years finishing at or around .500, without any real charge towards Super Bowl contention, then I think it will be pretty obvious that this front office doesn’t know what the hell it’s doing any more than any other front office, and 2010-2012 will be seen as flukes more than anything else.

***

That’s a lot of preamble – and a negative one at that – to get to what I actually thought was a pretty smart draft by the Seahawks. If there’s ever going to be a draft that seriously turns things around for this franchise, it’s going to be one that features a lot of bulk along the line of scrimmage, and absolutely nothing with any of the skill positions.

What have we been complaining about for years? Even during the Super Bowl years, what were we after? Elite defensive tackles who can rush the passer and be a force in the middle against the run. From 2013-2019, we drafted 12 guys who were either DT’s or plus-sized DE’s who we wanted to slide inside on passing downs; those were all some of our greatest busts. Malik McDowell, L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, Naz Jones, Jesse Williams, Demarcus Christmas; the list goes on and on. Jarran Reed was the only guy worth a damn in that bunch, and even he wasn’t worth it – in the minds of this front office – to spend on that second contract he received. Defensive tackle has been a fucking wasteland for this franchise, and if it wasn’t for Michael Bennett sliding inside during the glory years, we’d be talking about spanning multiple decades of futility.

So, yeah, I’m pretty excited about Byron Murphy. I’m also justifiably reserved in my excitement, because while it’s great to say we got the best all-around defensive lineman in this class, you also can’t deny that we got him with the 16th pick. The NFL deemed 15 other guys better than him. I know a lot of those teams had more pressing needs – mostly on the offensive side of the ball, what with the first 14 picks going that way – but if there was a true juggernaut, no-doubter of a defensive behemoth ready to plug-and-play as a future All Pro and maybe even Hall of Famer, there’s no way that player would’ve fallen to 16. You think Will Anderson – had he left for the NFL this year – would’ve been there for us? Or Aidan Hutchinson, or Chase Young, or Nick Bosa, or Quinnen Williams? I don’t think so.

I think the odds are a lot better that Byron Murphy was the best of a very weak defensive line class, than he’s a future game-wrecker in the mold of Aaron Donald or Geno Atkins. He’ll probably be good, but I’m not holding my breath waiting around for him to be great. As long as he’s not a fucking turd like just about every other defensive tackle we’ve drafted in the last decade, I’ll be happy.

One of the big problems with this draft is how it laid out for the Seahawks. This was a top-heavy draft, with an extremely thin bunch of players in Day 3. If ever there was a draft to select your next punter, kicker, or even long-snapper, this was the one. And, unfortunately for us – when all was said and done – only two of our eight picks were in the first three rounds, where the odds were best we’d actually find useful players. Even though we traded down once – at the top of the fourth round, to get an extra sixth, I think – we didn’t have any sort of capital to make the kinds of moves necessary to give us back the second rounder we lost in the Leonard Williams deal. Had we traded out of 16, we likely would’ve missed out on the last remaining true impact players. Would that have been worth a pick in the mid-20’s and mid-50’s? Probably not.

So, instead, we stuck at 16, took the best player available, and had a LOOOOOONG wait until pick 81 in the third round.

Where we took Christian Haynes, a quality guard who figures to start right away, and might even convert to center, to give us more beef at that spot than we’ve had since Max Unger. I don’t know how good a lineman is from UConn, but draftniks seem to like him, so that’s good enough for me.

I hear the inside linebacker we got from UTEP in the fourth round, Tyrice Knight, is more of a project than a guy we can plug and play. I’m assuming we missed out on the linebacker we actually wanted, and settled for this guy because that was a particular need (one of the few instances where we probably went away from our BPA strategy). I don’t expect Knight to be much of anything.

I also don’t expect much out of our other fourth rounder, A.J. Barner, tight end out of Michigan, but for very different reasons. I actually like the pick, because it sounds like he’s one of the better blocking tight ends in this class, and that was certainly a position of need. If we can get tougher at that position, I’m all for it, because it’s almost like drafting another lineman. He’s probably NOT the stone-hands catcher we’re all imagining, but he’s also not going to drastically improve this offense with his receiving. But, if he opens up holes in the running game, and gives our quarterback a little extra time to make a throw, he’s exactly the kind of tight end I want on my roster.

With our last four picks, we took two cornerbacks from Auburn, and two more offensive line projects. It certainly seems strange to invest so heavily in cornerback depth, when there’s no realistic way we can keep all these guys on our roster (Witherspoon, Woolen, Brown, Jackson, the two rookies, Artie Burns, Coby Bryant (unless we’re still turning him into a safety)), but maybe we’re looking to wheel and deal during training camp. Or, maybe some hard cuts are a-comin’. Either way, until further notice, guys like Nehemiah Pritchett and D.J. James are just camp fodder, and probably practice squad-bound, unless they really stand out as special teamers.

As for the O-Line projects, we got a widebody from Utah named Sataoa Laumea, and some no-name guy from Findlay who goes by Michael Jerrell. Laumea, by all accounts, is the more interesting of the two, as he could conceivably have a shot at contending for a starting spot. Jerrell might as well already be on the practice squad, but I’m not going to hold that against him.

We took three offensive linemen in this draft, that’s not lost on me. I think that’s a huge development for this team. Not that they’ve neglected the O-Line, necessarily. They’re always taking bites at the apple. But, they’ve also failed so miserably for so long, while getting by with middling production from guys on rookie deals. It’s nice to see they haven’t given up. There’s a way to build this unit up from the draft; other teams do it all the time. You need your foundational guys like Charles Cross to pan out, but you also need your mid-rounders like Lucas and Haynes and Bradford and Laumea to develop in a hurry and take the world by storm. I want to be the team that’s the envy of fans across the league. I want them to look at the Seahawks and think, “How do they keep finding these diamonds in the rough later in the draft?!” It’s nice to do it at cornerback and wide receiver, but when you can do it on the O-Line, you’ve really got something.

Half of this draft went to the line of scrimmage; when you throw in a primarily blocking tight end, and an inside linebacker who’s going to have to attack that LOS on the regular, that’s 3/4 of your draft going to the most important non-quarterback spots on the team. If we’re ever going to turn this thing around, it’s either going to be by finding another transcendent quarterback, or by killing it everywhere else. Since we’re bound and determined to ignore QB in the draft every fucking year, then we’ve gotta start putting in work on Plan B. Devoting the bulk of your draft to the LOS, while signing Leonard Williams to a long-term extension, and bringing back George Fant to be offensive tackle depth, is a great start to that process.

Now, let’s check back in three years and see if this class – and any of the others that came before it – are worth a damn.

What’s More Important For The Seahawks: Scheme Or Talent?

You know what’s always been hard for me to wrap my head around? The Seahawks under Pete Carroll – for multiple years in a row – had the best defense in the NFL. They drafted well, they developed well, they hit on some free agents, and they had a scheme that put it all together, worked to everyone’s strengths, and was a menace for opposing offenses to play against.

Then, for many years after that – still under Pete Carroll – the Seahawks were among the worst defensive teams in the NFL. Same coach, ostensibly the same scheme, yet for whatever reason nothing was working, no matter how many resources we poured into that side of the ball.

Well, the simple argument there is that TALENT is more important. When this team had multiple All Pros and future Hall of Famers, they were amazing; when they lost all those guys, the Seahawks were crummy.

But, I keep coming back to this post, and the point I made about every team that was worse than us defensively in 2022 were LEAPS AND BOUNDS better than us in 2023. We’re looking at the Lions, Vikings, Texans, Bears, Raiders, and Falcons. Other than the Texans drafting Will Anderson, there really wasn’t much help for any of those teams. I know the Bears made some trade deadline deals, but I don’t know if there was a ton of influx among those teams. Certainly not a ton of big names! I’m willing to wager there was a lot of talent-holdover from 2022 to 2023; yet some significant improvements were made!

That has to be scheme, right? Yes, the L.O.B. had a unique scheme – Cover 3 – that not a lot of other teams were utilizing the way we were. But, eventually, teams started to hone in on routes to defeat Cover 3. Sure, the talent declined, but also the scheme got stale, and the combination of that really did us in.

It never felt like the Seahawks took that next step – made that next adjustment – to fight back against what offenses were doing against them. They had their mantras: don’t get beat deep, focus on stopping the run. But, that just left a wide swath of the middle of the field wide open, and our softer coverages were incredibly beatable.

There’s talent on this defense. Devon Witherspoon, Riq Woolen, and Tre Brown are all good to great. Jordyn Brooks continually shows you why he was deemed a first round talent. Nwosu, Mafe, Leonard Williams, Jarran Reed, Dre’Mont Jones, Julian Love; there are and were DUDES on this side of the ball. In spite of their age, there’s a lot guys like Quandre Diggs and Bobby Wagner can bring to the table; on the flipside, I’d like to think there’s more we could be getting out of Darrell Taylor and Derick Hall. We don’t have that one huge defensive line pass rush monster, but then again, do the Falcons or Vikings? Are the guys on the Raiders or Bears THAT much better than our guys?

Or, did those teams and respective coaches scheme their guys up to play better than their overall talent might otherwise indicate?

I watch a good amount of football, not just Seahawks games. Yet I never really see other teams play quite like we do. Every fucking week, it’s like we get bled dry on defense. Teams picking us apart, getting easy completions, rarely seeing any sort of consistent pressure. Oh sure, the Seahawks will pick it up against inept offenses. But, if you’re even remotely competent, you’re going to have a pretty easy time moving up and down the field and scoring points.

Carolina, with Andy Dalton, should not be able to generate 378 yards and 27 points, I’m sorry! The Steelers, on their second offensive coordinator and their third quarterback, should not be able to come into your house and get 468 yards and 30 points! This isn’t getting routed by the Ravens, or the Cowboys not punting once. These are TERRIBLE offenses moving the football at will, on the road, in one of the loudest environments in the NFL.

Which is why I was so excited to hear that Mike Macdonald is planning on calling the defense, at least at first. I have zero doubt whatsoever that we could bring back exactly the same D as 2023 and see vastly superior results, just with the change in scheme.

What have we heard so often from players who left Seattle for other teams? Especially the defensive linemen: the Seahawks don’t let you do anything. They’re more worried about plugging gaps than they are about getting up field and making plays on the quarterback. They’re so concerned about giving up anything over the top that they play hyper-conservative and welcome teams taking the underneath stuff. The only problem with that is when they DO take that underneath stuff. It makes converting on third down easier, it makes avoiding third downs entirely easier, and inevitably your team is going to make some mistakes causing you to give up a deep ball or two anyway.

And what have we heard about Mike Macdonald? That he’s cerebral. That he studies tape more than anyone. That he’s the most prepared guy on the team, who’s going to find your weakness and exploit it. He’s going to make the offense’s job miserable. And that, in turn, is going to lead to more sacks, more turnovers, and doing it all with less blitzing.

Sure sounds like the scheme can be awfully important! I mean, I’d love more than anything to have that nice cross-section of both; who doesn’t want more talent on their roster? But, I’m not prepared to put it all on the feet of the talent.

Granted, if you’re the 49ers right now, you’ve got quite the bounty on that side of the ball. But, we don’t even need to be the best of the best. I would settle for just being better than we’ve been. Let’s start there, and see where Macdonald and company can take us.

The Seahawks Might Have Drafted The Best Cornerback & Wide Receiver In The First Round

It’s funny how my Seahawks fandom led me astray in this draft. Like a lot of people, I had REAL tunnel vision when it came to the first round of this draft, and especially with the #5 pick. I never legitimately believed we’d take a quarterback there, but I left that door open a crack just in case. Really, what I expected was we’d take the best defensive lineman available. Either Will Anderson (if he was still there) or Jalen Carter/Tyree Wilson (whoever the team believed in more). As many expected, the Texans drafted Will Anderson; as literally no one expected, they drafted him AFTER they also took C.J. Stroud (when they traded up with Arizona for the #3 pick). Other than that, the top 4 went chalk: Bryce Young #1 to the Panthers and Anthony Richardson #4 to the Colts. Will Levis is somewhere still sliding harder than a fireman on a greased up fire pole.

What I didn’t do before the draft was put one ounce of effort into studying first round cornerbacks or wide receivers. What’s the point? The Seahawks never take a receiver before the second round, and never take a corner before the third!

There’s two ways to look at this draft for the Seahawks so far: you’re either with us or against us. You’re either a fan of your team taking the Best Player Available, or you’re not. There are normally 32 picks in the first round of an NFL Draft; this year there was 31 because the Dolphins got dinged for tampering and lost their pick. However, that doesn’t mean there are 30+ players with “first round grades” heading into a draft. Usually there’s anywhere from 12-18 or so, true, legitimate blue chippers. This year’s class was deemed to be weak in comparison to recent drafts, so the odds of the Seahawks getting two elite players with first round grades – when their second pick was #20 – seemed pretty remote.

I would call this draft a qualified success, because the Seahawks got two players with true first round grades. But, obviously, the Seahawks didn’t address their greatest need (the defensive front seven), and that might come back to haunt them.

You can’t be a football fan and not have heard some chatter about Devon Witherspoon, cornerback from Illinois (our pick at #5). Really, all I knew heading into the draft was that he was one of the best cornerbacks in this draft, he excelled in press coverage, and he was elite against the run. As soon as I heard that, I thought, “Well, he sounds like an ideal Pete Carroll cornerback; too bad he’ll be gone by the time we take our first corner of this draft!”

He’s 6’0, 180-something pounds. Notably – in the post-round interviews – Pete Carroll compared him to Troy Polamalu, which is incredibly high praise. It’s hard not to be a fan of his style of play, I think he’ll fit in beautifully with what the Seahawks want to do on defense. That being said, he doesn’t strike me as a Sauce Gardner type. He’s not far-and-away the best cornerback in this draft (even though he was picked first, and would probably get the most first place votes). Washington and New England both took cornerbacks at 16 and 17 respectively who are in the conversation (particularly the Oregon guy, who I’d also heard rumblings about pre-draft).

The big question with Witherspoon will be: is he a lockdown corner? Or is he just a good all-around athlete? Is he a Richard Sherman, or a Shawn Springs? Say what you will about Springs, but he was never a lockdown guy; he was fine.

Of note to Seahawks fans in the market for a defensive lineman, Tyree Wilson ended up going #7 to the Raiders and Jalen Carter went #9 to the Eagles (of course). It’s interesting how the defensive end market shook out, because there were a number of quality names still available by the time the draft got to #20. I don’t know if these guys are going to be worth a damn as pros, but names I’d heard about pre-draft included Myles Murphy (28th to the Bengals), Nolan Smith (30th to the Eagles, of course), and Felix Anudike-Uzomah (31st to the Chiefs). There were also a couple of semi-interesting defensive tackles taken after we picked, including Mazi Smith (26th to the Cowboys) and Bryan Bresee (29th to the Saints). We’ll have to keep our eyes on those guys, and just imagine what they might’ve looked like in Seahawks uniforms.

At some point in the run-up to #20, I tweeted out how I thought it would be funny if the Seahawks continued to buck their organizational trends by taking “that amazing tight end” with our other first round pick. Dalton Kincaid was who I was referring to; he ended up getting selected by the Bills at 25. Nevertheless, we did buck trends, but went wide receiver instead.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba is more-or-less the consensus best receiver in this class, at least heading in. But, kinda like our cornerback pick, JSN doesn’t sound like a grand slam, no doubter home run, a la Ja’Marr Chase or Justin Jefferson. Maybe just a half-step down.

He’s 6’1, 196 pounds. He was the very best Ohio State wide receiver in 2021, before a hamstring injury severely limited his 2022 season. He can play anywhere – inside and outside – he has great hands, he gets open. He’s going to be a BIG asset for this team. I’ve heard him being compared to Doug Baldwin, which: sign me up! I wonder if he’s like a blend of both Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. I love the pick already for what he’s going to mean to this offense on third downs, but I’ll be curious to see what his high-end potential is on big plays downfield. A non-crazy Antonio Brown is the ceiling you’re looking for. I imagine the floor is – as always – Nelson Agholor.

Here’s the thing with these two picks: it doesn’t matter if you’re in the Best Player Available camp or the Draft For Need camp, because cornerback and wide receiver ARE needs for this team.

Sure, Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant were drafted last year and made names for themselves as rookies. But, we still needed a starter opposite Woolen who isn’t Mike Jackson. I would also argue that Woolen is more of a cover corner, and not necessarily a guy who lowers the boom on opposing players. I cringe every time I see Woolen try to tackle a running back. We needed to throw a wild animal into our secondary. Devon Witherspoon is going to learn so much from the likes of not only Woolen, but Quandre Diggs, Julian Love, and even Jamal Adams (for the half a game he’s healthy for).

And I would argue – in spite of having two 1,000-yard receivers in Metcalf and Lockett – the Seahawks had a bigger need for a third receiver than they did for another corner. Are you as sick and tired of Dee Eskridge as I am? Are you over these 1-year retreads like Marquise Goodwin? Are you looking for a little more than a 6th/7th rounder or an undrafted guy, like Freddie Swain, Dareke Young, or Penny Hart?

Three-receiver sets are the norm nowadays, even with a team that runs as much as the Seahawks do. The fullback is out. You’re either going with a third receiver or a second tight end. So, there’s going to be no shortage of plays for JSN on the field in this offense. He gives us probably the best wide receiver room in football (certainly in the NFC anyway), he’s insurance in case Metcalf or Lockett get banged up, and he’ll help us replenish for when Tyler Lockett one day decides to hang ’em up. Sure, Lockett is signed through 2025, he keeps his body in shape, and he’s careful about not taking brutal hits. But, he’s 31 this year. There’s a potential out in his contract before 2024, so you never know when it’s all going to come to an end for an older player. Waiting until after Lockett is gone to replenish the wide receiver room sounds like a terrible idea. Get a rookie in there now, have him learn from Lockett while he still can, and now you’ve really maximized that pick!

Granted, even though the Seahawks did draft for need, they weren’t the most pressing needs. To that, I say, let’s see what happens over the next couple days. Should be quite interesting.

What If The Seahawks Draft Jalen Carter?

I don’t involve myself with a lot of mock drafts and whatnot. It’s fine if that’s your thing, but it’s just not my thing. I don’t like to devote a lot of brain power to what college players the Seahawks might bring in, because 99.99999% of them won’t actually ever be Seahawks and/or worth a damn (figure is approximate).

Even if we just limit discussion to who the Seahawks could take at #5, I don’t really have much to say. I want Will Anderson more than I want any other player in this draft. Either the Seahawks get him – because the top four picks were all quarterbacks, or otherwise someone went off-script – and I’ll be elated, or we won’t, and I’ll be disappointed. But, I won’t be shocked if he goes to another team before we pick.

I will be shocked if he goes to another team before we pick … because we traded down, but I’ll also be irate and looking for the nearest oven to stick my head in. But, that’s neither here nor there.

I don’t think we’ll take a quarterback, but if we did, it would probably be Anthony Richardson. I’d be fine with that. I’d be excited, because that means the Seahawks REALLY believe he’s the next great superstar, and because we have the coaches and players to put around him to really foster that kind of development. I would also be justifiably nervous, because quarterbacks are always a gamble, and one picked so high would be given every opportunity (for good or for ill) to become our next Franchise Quarterback. But, I’m not holding out much hope for that, and really think the chances are slim-to-none that he’s even available anyway.

The guy I think we’re going to get is Tyree Wilson. I think that’s because – again – Will Anderson is already off the board, and the Seahawks don’t believe in any of the remaining QBs. I’ll talk myself into Wilson, because he’s a high-level prospect with incredible upside, but ultimately it’ll be a disappointment, because part of me will be convinced we could’ve traded down a few spots and still gotten him, but also because he’ll be kind of a Bruce Irvin type. Someone who’s good, but not an elite, perennial All Pro you hope to get with the #5 pick. He’ll get you around 10 sacks on a good year, but otherwise isn’t someone opposing offenses really have to gameplan too much around. Someone between an Aaron Curry and a Bruce Irvin, I guess. Either a bust, or a fine athlete who needs other, better players around him to shine.

I also think we’re going to get Tyree Wilson because we’re going to pass on Jalen Carter.

This, in spite of the fact that most projections have Carter going to the Seahawks. That’s part of the reason I’m writing about him today. The other part is the fact that there’s so much to discuss around what’s going on with Carter.

He, obviously, was involved in that alleged street racing incident where the opposing vehicle crashed, killing a teammate and team associate. There was obviously the unfortunate timing of his arrest warrent coming down while the NFL Combine was happening. Of course, he didn’t really participate in the Combine – other than maybe some interviews – which is never a good sign. Then, he had his pro day, where he didn’t participate in everything, and couldn’t finish that which he tried to do (he was also something like 9 pounds heavier than he was at the Combine, speaking to his level of conditioning).

For some people, the legal issues are enough to write him off. For others, the final nail in the coffin was his being so out of shape at an all-important pre-draft event like his pro day (when, again, he refused to do anything athletic at the NFL Combine). Is he a suspension waiting to happen, for off-field shenanigans? Does he care about his body and being in shape? Does he care about the game of football and what it takes to be among the best in the world? And also, what does that say about his decision-making? Not just the road racing incident (which, come on, is more of a Boys Will Be Boys sort of thing; who hasn’t driven fast and raced around in their cars when they were younger?), but going against the wishes of his representatives who allegedly cautioned against him having his pro day so soon after all of those legal things came to light. He should’ve waited, until that was behind him, and he could devote his time full-boar to working out.

And then there’s the whispers. The rumors swirling around. He doesn’t practice hard; he only shows up for games. He takes plays off. For whatever reason, he was largely hidden from the media during his entire college tenure. And, of course, he played for a bigtime SEC program, and therefore is both mostly a finished product, and probably a beaten down one given the way they play and the number of games in which they participate (including playoffs and whatnot). He seems like just a guy who has gotten by on his natural ability his whole life, who has been Yes Manned to death and been handed everything he could’ve ever wanted thanks to those natural abilities, and once he gets to the NFL, he’s going to have a serious wake-up call. Everyone in the league has natural ability, but they also have the drive to want to be the best, and work at it day-in and day-out.

If Jalen Carter doesn’t have that drive, then he’s not just some so-so outside linebacker who might end up being a so-so pro; he could range from being that perennial All Pro DT, all the way down to a fucking disaster of a bust that sets your team back another five years (the way Malik McDowell did, only times a million because of where you selected Carter vs. McDowell being a second rounder).

All that being said, you have to consider it, because he does have that upside. What if the rumors are blown up out of proportion? What if those rumors only exist because NFL teams want him to fall in the draft? Or, what if this whole last half year has been a huge wake-up call for Carter? What if he’s more susceptible to coaching, and if he’s in the right system, with the right coaches and players around him, we’re able to unlock his fullest potential?

What if he’s the next Aaron Donald?

Aaron Donald had a great college career and everything, but he wasn’t yet AARON DONALD. He was the 13th overall pick. Defensive tackles don’t usually go in the top five unless they’re REALLY special. The fact that Jalen Carter was once considered to be the best and most elite defensive prospect in this draft is something you can’t ignore. Even with all these issues we’ve talked about ad nauseam, he’s still a consensus second or third defensive player off the board after those other two guys I referenced. What does that tell you about Jalen Carter, the football player? What does that tell you about the man after he puts on pads and you get him on the field with the clock running?

That tells me he’s a fucking monster. And, yeah, there’s a risk. There’s a risk with literally everyone. There’s injuries, there’s ineffectiveness, there’s being mishandled, there’s being in the wrong scheme, or with the wrong set of coaches, or just random bad luck and you fall off a fucking ATV without wearing a helmet.

You might tell me Tyree Wilson has untapped potential he was never going to realize in college. That he has a frame he can grow into, to be an elite player both inside and outside, both on the line and off the ball. But, the way I see it now, Jalen Carter has the highest upside in this draft. And if we can’t get Will Anderson, I would gladly take Carter, and just cross my fingers and hope for the best.

Nothing changes your defense like having a super-human at defensive tackle. Those guys wreck games all by themselves. Those guys have to be reckoned with by opposing offenses. Those guys open up things for everyone else, either next to him on the line, or behind him at linebacker and safety.

If you’re like me and you’re DESPERATE for the Seahawks to be elite on defense, I think the quickest way to that end is either Will Anderson or Jalen Carter, full stop. Anyone else – either in this draft, or in free agency – is going to be a colossal disappointment.

The Seahawks Signed Dre’Mont Jones & Jarran Reed

We have exciting news! I can’t remember the last time the Seahawks were involved with a major signing on the first day of free agency. Not for an outside player anyway. The Seahawks are an organization that likes to draft and develop, they’re an organization that likes to take care of their own guys. Other than that – and the occasional big splash trade – we usually buy low and test the waters on an older veteran, or a lesser name coming off his rookie contract.

It’s a smart way to do things, but it can also be infuriating. What happens to those teams who “win” free agency? They’re often coming from a real dark point; that’s why they have so much money to spend in the first place. And, you’re not getting the proper value out of guys on bigtime second or third contracts, compared to those on rookie deals especially, but also compared to past-their-prime veterans who might have a little something left in the tank. So, you don’t often see a lot of future success from those teams who “win” free agency. Once in a while, a team will get everything right, but that’s pretty rare. More often than not, if you’re not just as inept (remember that Philly “Dream Team” they compiled some years back), then you’re mortgaging the future like the Rams did. Which is great, they won a Super Bowl. But, now they’re set to be one of the worst teams in football, and that’s gotta be tough to swallow as a fan.

Conversely, as you can see, it’s not like the Seahawks’ way has paid dividends either. All too often, we’ve eschewed one impact signing in an attempt to scattershot a lot of minimum deals. Instead of signing one impact offensive linemen, we’d sign three mediocre duds. Instead of going for one impact pass rusher, we’d overpay defensive tackles (Poona, Mone) who can’t get to the quarterback, and then sign whoever else was left on the scrap heap (Quinton Jefferson, Al Woods).

Everyone likes to point to Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril as the last time the Seahawks got it right in free agency. That was EONS ago! The last outside free agent who actually made a positive impact was Uchenna Nwosu; before him, there was nobody.

Seemingly every year, we head into free agency with a decent amount of money to spend, and seemingly every year, we walk away shaking our heads at the moves the Seahawks have done.

Well, not this time! This time, we signed Dre’Mont Jones away from the Denver Broncos, for 3 years and $51 million. He gets a $20 million signing bonus, which puts his 2023 cap hit at around $10 million. Assuming he plays well, his 2024 cap hit is under $20 million. And if he’s a jackpot, we’ll probably extend him before 2025 comes into play.

6’3, 281 pound defensive tackle who has 22 sacks in his 4-year career, 18.5 over the last three seasons (no less than 5.5 per year). But, it’s obviously not just sacks that makes him one of the most sought-after defensive linemen in this free agency class. He can play all over the line, and he’s a menace against both the run and the pass. He’s basically everything we’ve been looking for since Clinton McDonald left, on the low end. On the high end, the sky’s the limit. I dunno, maybe Aaron Donald is the limit; he’s probably not Aaron Donald.

Nevertheless, he’s the best defensive tackle we’ve had in ages. Sam Adams maybe? Rocky Bernard? It goes back a ways. (I don’t count Michael Bennett here, though maybe I should; I always saw him as a defensive end who slid inside on passing downs to give us an extra outside rusher).

Not only is Dre’Mont one of the best and most impactful free agents, but he also fills a VERY huge need on this particular team. Shelby Harris and Quinton Jefferson were both released as cap casualties. Poona Ford is probably moving on (after not really fitting into the new 3-4 scheme), and Bryan Mone might be out with injury all year. So, as much as we all like Al Woods, there’s a lot of work left to do.

And just when I thought we might settle for some guy making the minimum, we bounced right back the next day and brought back Jarran Reed on a 2-year, $10.8 million deal. This isn’t just any old man off the streets. This is someone who has been remarkably healthy and available (other than a stint when he was suspended). He had a stretch with the Seahawks where there was real pass rush ability and potential (surpassing 10 sacks one year), but by and large he’ll give you a little bit of that, while also presenting a stout front in run defense.

What makes all of this truly thrilling is seeing what will come from the #5 overall pick. If Jalen Carter falls to us? And we get to play him, Reed, and Jones side by side by side? With Nwosu on one end and Darrell Taylor or Boye Mafe on the other? Or, we end up with Will Anderson as an end with those guys? We could really have something here!

Give Me (The Seahawks) Your Future First Round Picks!

I’ve lamented the Seahawks’ pick from the Broncos dropping from 3 to 5 long enough. It’s time to join the real world. We have the 5th pick; it is what it is.

We don’t know how this is going to play out, but it’ll probably be a lot different than how it looks now. Right now, it appears there are two stud defensive linemen who tower above all the rest of the prospects: Jalen Carter and Will Anderson. I’m living under the assumption that, at 5, we won’t be able to draft either of those guys. Unless there’s someone else out there I haven’t heard about who’s ready to shock the world, that drops us a tier before we get to make a selection.

The only way we’re getting one of those guys is if quarterback-needy teams jump ahead of us. Right now, the order is Chicago (doesn’t need a QB), Houston (does), Arizona (doesn’t), and Indy (does). Chicago could trade down with either Houston or Indy and get a bounty, while still getting one of the top two defenders in the draft. Arizona probably SHOULD trade back – considering they only have five picks total this year – so we’ll see. There’s maybe an outside chance – if, indeed, there are three or more elite-level quarterbacks coming out of this draft – that the Seahawks could stick at 5 and get the defender of their dreams.

But, I’m not ready to get my hopes up. So, for the sake of argument, I was really enthralled with this idea. I would – IN A HEARTBEAT – trade back with the Carolina Panthers to get their 9th pick, 93rd pick, and a 2024 first rounder. Breaking in a rookie quarterback and a brand new coaching staff? Sign me up! I bet the Panthers will stink even worse next year!

Do you know how much fun I’ve had rooting against the Broncos every week in 2022? I want that all the time! My number one objective is the Seahawks winning. But, having a second high-level objective – as a fan – is a total joy.

The fact of the matter is, I would trade back with anyone in the top nine this year, if it meant getting another first rounder next year. I would do this every single year if we could!

The question of whether or not the Seahawks would be unwilling to play this kind of long game – considering the raised expectations for 2023 – is legitimate. But, we already have (to my understanding) ten picks in the 2023 draft (in spite of what the rest of the Internet says, Bob Condotta tweeted out recently that we do, in fact, have a seventh rounder). There’s only so many rookies we could possibly play in any given year, on top of the 2022 class that’s already taking up a good portion of our playable roster. I’d rather have an extra guy in 2024 at the top of the draft looking to bust through onto our starting ranks, even if it means we take a slight step back in the first round this year. A Top 10 pick should still be pretty damn good, even if he’s not necessarily a Top 5 guy.

So yeah, count me in. This year, next year, to infinity and beyond.