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Why Pete Carroll will draft a QB in 2023
Seaside Joe 1171: 5 reasons that next year is the year for a quarterback
I made it clear over the past two months that the Seahawks would not add a quarterback of note this year because it is not in Pete Carroll’s historical record to spend big—or even spend medium-big—on that position. I’ve also recently said multiple times that I’m over 90-percent sure that Carroll will draft a quarterback in the first round in 2023. So what gives?
Am I being a hypocrite?
The prospect that I’m being inconsistent can’t be ignored, especially not be me. So let’s go over the reasons why Carroll will draft a quarterback early in 2023, following 13 years in which Russell Wilson has been Seattle’s highest-drafted (75th) at the position before bucking the trend in about 11 months, and then you and I can decide together if I’m being a hypocrite or not.
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Two 2023 first round picks
Sometimes the answers are the opposite of complicated and football or team building is often much more simple than we give it credit for.
In February, the Seahawks had Russell Wilson, no first round pick, and no left tackle.
Then they had no Russell Wilson, one first round pick, and no left tackle.
Then they had no Russell Wilson, no first round pick, and one Charles Cross.
In 2023, the Seahawks will have Charles Cross, two first round picks, and no quarterback.
In the NFL Draft, you use your picks to fill your needs and there is no position on the entire roster that more clearly lacks a 2023 starter than at quarterback. Why is this a different answer in 2023 than it was in 2022? Because you don’t blindly fill needs in the draft based on position, you evaluate your PRESENT OPTIONS and then prioritize the needs.
There was no quarterback in the 2022 draft worthy of a first or second round selection. There was a left tackle worthy of the number nine pick. It couldn’t be any easier to figure out why Cross, Boye Mafe, and Kenneth Walker III are on the Seahawks instead of a quarterback: Kenny Pickett (20th) was the only quarterback drafted in the top-70 picks.
Seattle has two firsts and two seconds in 2023, and one of those four picks should be used on a quarterback, especially since the Seahawks are hoping they won’t need a tackle or a running back. (A first round RB? Yes, just ask Texas about Bijan Robinson.)
Pete Carroll doesn’t actually hate great quarterbacks
Let’s be clear about Carroll’s history as a head coach (Jets excluded):
Inherited Drew Bledsoe with the Patriots
Inherited Carson Palmer with USC
Recruited Matt Leinart (4th-ranked QB in his class)
Recruited John David Booty (highly regarded, no clear indication on star rating)
Recruited Matt Cassel (53rd overall in his recruiting class)
Recruited Mark Sanchez (5-star recruit)
Recruited Rocky Hinds (4-star recruit)
Recruited Aaron Corp (4-star recruit)
Recruited Matt Barkley (5-star recruit)
Inherited Matt Hasselbeck with the Seahawks
Took medium-level shots at Charlie Whitehurst, Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Flynn
Had no need for a QB after getting lucky with Russell Wilson
There were obviously many more high school quarterback recruits who were wooed by USC during Carroll’s tenure but chose to go elsewhere, and to what degree Carroll is heavily involved with “recruiting” is a matter of some debate. What is clear is that despite the hype surrounding Reggie Bush and a history of talented Trojans running backs, USC also went after the best quarterbacks in the country during Carroll’s tenure and he was most successful when Palmer, Leinart, and Sanchez were successful.
It wasn’t until Barkley’s disappointing campaign in 2009 that USC went 9-4 and Carroll found it an appropriate opportunity to return to the NFL.
Same as it was in college, the Seahawks went 7-9 in two seasons without Wilson, then made the playoffs in eight of his first nine campaigns, then went 7-10 when Wilson was hurt and not quite himself. I don’t know why there are fans who think that Carroll is flat out stupid and that he doesn’t comprehend the first thing about football, but I have a hunch that he’s cognizant of the fact that this is a quarterback-driven sport.
He also likes to have a strong running game and he believes that can be unlocked with a good running back, which is a belief that the vast majority of football coaches share.
Carroll went from a former number one overall pick, to multiple Heisman winners, to Wilson, an elite dual threat weapon and deep ball passer over the past ten seasons. He knows the value of a great quarterback. As was the case for three games last year, Carroll will also be reminded of the value of not having a quarterback this season.
2023 will be Carroll’s first chance—EVER—to draft a quarterback early
Carroll had no say in personnel with the Jets or Patriots, which is why he refused to return to the NFL unless he would get final say in those decisions with Seattle.
During Carroll’s first draft with the Seahawks, Sam Bradford was the only quarterback drafted in the top-20 (and he went first). The only other first round quarterback in 2010 was Tim Tebow. In 2011, Seattle picked 25th, passing on Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick, which is understandable. In 2012, the Seahawks passed on Brandon Weeden in the first round, electing instead to wait on Russell Wilson in the third.
It’s been 10 years since Seattle could even entertain the thought of drafting a first round quarterback. Then 2022 comes along and the quarterback class is terrible. Had it been the 2021 or 2023 versions, maybe the story is different. But it was the Pickett-Willis-Ridder-Corral version instead and the Seahawks don’t currently have a good offense to support a developmental quarterback. Next year, they could.
The 2023 QB class demands it
There was a time when players like Matt Barkley could go from “consensus first overall pick next year” to being drafted in the third round—and that can definitely still happen—but I think we’ve also seen how anxious teams are to draft certain college talents no matter how poorly their final pre-draft season goes. Consider Derek Stingley this year or all the opt out players in 2021.
For that reason, I have no doubt that C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young will be top-five picks next year.
Stroud and Young are five-star prospects who debuted as sophomores in 2021 and dominated their opponents. You can definitely critique and criticize parts of their game, things they need to work on, attributes that they can never work on (like Young’s height), but we’ve already seen franchises begin to move chess pieces so that they can get their best opportunity to draft one of these two players in 2023.
This is not the same case as someone like Spencer Rattler, who was only ever mocked as an early first round pick because of his high school recruitment status and not because of anything fantastic he had done in college. Young, Stroud would need a monumental collapse to fall out of the first.
That’s good news if you can draft Young or Stroud, but perhaps equally good news for the teams who can’t and still need a QBOTF: Young, Stroud could push two or three quarterbacks down a notch when they’d normally go first/second/third. Look at Trey Lance in 2021, or Deshaun Watson as QB3 in 2017, or Ben Roethlisberger as QB3 in 2004.
With a strong campaign next season, Miami’s Tyler Van Dyke is the next most-likely quarterback to be drafted. With a great campaign, Van Dyke could even go first overall, thereby pushing Stroud and Young down a notch.
My only other quarterback in the first round right now is obviously Grayson McCall. Others say that McCall definitely won’t be a first round pick, and that’s fine. Whether he’s actually a first round pick and the NFL agrees with me, or he’s a third round pick and the NFL agrees with other people, it doesn’t matter to me. I’m buying his future regardless.
Either way, names like Phil Jurkovec, Will Levis, Jake Haener, Anthony Richardson, Devin Leary, and others have popped into the conversation. I wasn’t surprised to see one first round QB in 2022, and I won’t be surprised to see six in 2023. Read my first 2023 QB primer and prepare for weekly coverage during the college season to see how they move around the board during the season.
Pete Carroll knows the league has changed/is changing
Contrary to popular belief, Pete Carroll does adapt. He just has PRINCIPLES, something that I see as a dying commodity among too many people in the world today. Learn, grow, change, but figure out what your principles and beliefs are and then stick to them.
Consider if you were a single person trying to find a partner but you’ve struggled to meet people who want to see you for a second date. That might (and should) cause you to make some changes to yourself, whether those are physical, behavioral, stylistically, or whatever. There are always ways to update and improve.
But at the same time, you should know what it is about you that you cannot change. Not only physical. You should have a set of principles and you should funnel everything else through those, including how those rules operate in a modern dating world.
In the football world, Carroll has a set of principles and philosophies that have helped him win a national championship and a Super Bowl, with 152 wins in the NFL and 97 wins in the NCAA. Whether you think he’s adapted enough to a modern world or not, Carroll’s likely pleased with his career results and will “not change for no man.”
However, Clint Hurtt was on Mike Salk’s show this week and talked about the 3-4 defense. To poorly paraphrase, Hurtt mentioned that the league has changed to more spread offenses and that Seattle’s defense would need to adapt and be able to keep up with modern offenses are bringing to the field these days. That’s a direct statement from the Seahawks defensive coordinator that the Seahawks head coach has told him that the defense needs to adapt to a modern NFL.
On the offensive side of the ball, we’re entering year two of Carroll’s commitment to Shane Waldron, a coach who could only possibly have been hired because of two reasons: 1) He shares in Pete’s principles of offensive football (Which Waldron has said as much was the case) and 2) He brings unique concepts that Pete and former OC Brian Schottenheimer couldn’t have drawn up themselves.
And Pete, like the rest of us, has been watching the NFL playoffs recently. He sees Matthew Stafford, Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Dak Prescott. He also sees Justin Herbert, Kyler Murray, Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson, Derek Carr, and Russell Wilson. He knows about the potential future of the league with Trey Lance, Zach Wilson, Trevor Lawrence, Mac Jones, and so on.
I believe that the Seahawks are comfortable not drafting a first round quarterback in 2023. Pete and John have proven over and over again that they’re at ease with not doing what is expected of them, as well as doing things that they’re not expected to do. They run the team based on what they feel they have in front of them on the next play, and for the past 13 drafts, that move has never had to be: Quarterback.
It just so happens that when you look ahead a few moves to the 2023 draft and Seattle’s number one need, it’s clear that the Seahawks will get their first chance to pick a quarterback first.