Seahawks 2023 draft: Jalen Carter and Peter Skoronski?
Peter Skoronski and Carter could be a perfect day one combination: Seaside Joe 1496
A thought that popped in mind head when considering what the Seattle Seahawks could look like with Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter in the middle of their defense next season—as well as with Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski on the offensive line— was simply this: There are not many good guards in the NFL.
Perhaps at worst, Carter will draw a lot of holding penalties early in his career.
Seaside Joe is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Jalen Carter’s tape shows enough highlights of him embarrassing offensive linemen whose names will be recognized by Seahawks draft fans to think that he will continue to have success at the next level. In this footage of Carter in the College Football Playoffs against Ohio State (names you’ll hear include Paris Johnson, the potential top tackle, Luke Wypler, the potential top center, and Dawand Jones, a borderline first round tackle) and TCU (potential top guard Steve Avila), he proves he can win with power, with technique, or get held* by these top prospects.
*Not always flagged for holding though
We’ve heard many times that C.J. Stroud made his money in this single game against Georgia, but there’s also evidence of Carter winning reps, getting held, running after Stroud, and making a difference in the final minutes of this game against Ohio State’s elite offensive line. Which is strange because most of the reports we’ve heard were that Carter is usually resting on a gurney with an IV in his arm by halftime and that he doesn’t emerge from the darkness until days later.
The analyst in this video, The Football Scout, says he hasn’t seen dominance from a defensive lineman like this since Nick Bosa.
Now you may disagree with that and say, “I watch a lot of film, I’ve personally followed Carter’s career for the last two years and believe he’s vastly overrated” and that’s fine. Your opinions will be respected here at Seaside Joe, they don’t have to line up with mine! You could even change my mind. What’s the recent hit rate on elite defensive tackle draft prospects?
There have only been six top-5 picks at the position over the last 20 years, ranging from Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy to Dewayne Robertson and Glenn Dorsey. The other two are Quinnen Williams and Marcell Dareus. If you want to get really concerned, the last top-10 defensive tackle out of Georgia was Johnathan Sullivan, the sixth overall pick in 2003. Sullivan played three bad seasons with the Saints and his career essentially ended when he was—wait for it—arrested near Atlanta in 2006.
New Orleans traded picks 17 and 18 to move up to six for Sullivan.
But different people, different players, different eras. We don’t know yet if a team will regret drafting Carter or teams will regret passing on Carter. What I draw back on is “different eras” and my original thought of how most teams just aren’t set up well to block any good-to-great defensive tackle in the modern NFL.
I wrote about the Seahawks schedule on Wednesday and their six games against NFC West opponents includes the Rams (they haven’t named anyone a starter yet, but potential leading options at guard include A.J. Jackson, a former UDFA with six career starts at tackle, and Logan Bruss, a third round pick in 2022 who missed his entire rookie offseason and season), the Cardinals (Josh Jones, Will Hernandez), and the 49ers (Aaron Banks, Spencer Burford).
For more context, my understanding is that the 49ers are pleased with Banks, a 2021 second round pick, but he will need to “prove it” in 2023. I wouldn’t be surprised if Damien Lewis was an acceptable comp as far as value. Burford, a fourth round rookie, was a pleasant surprise for most of the year but struggled badly in the playoffs and is not settled as a starter. In Arizona, Jones has yet to start and finish a season as a starter through his first three years. Hernandez signed a one-year free agent deal in 2022, played 13 games, and re-upped for two more years after an okay season.
The Cardinals will hold a competition at center following Rodney Hudson’s retirement. The 49ers got a surprisingly good season from Jake Brendel, a 30-year-old getting his first opportunity to start in the NFL in 2022. The Rams are set to bring back Brian Allen, the definition of below average and he missed half of last season.
It’s all well and good to argue that because the interiors are so bad, why “over-spend” to become great? At this moment, with no money left to spend per this report by ESPN’s Brady Henderson, the Seahawks don’t even have a decent nose tackle…because they don’t have anybody really. Bryan Mone won’t return from a torn ACL until the second half of the year, at least, leaving Jarrod Hewitt and Myles Adams as next-up. The team wants to bring back Poona Ford, but I’m sure if you asked Richard Sherman he would say that Seattle has only made low-ball offers.
Thursday’s Bonus Article: How rookie contract QBs have done in the playoffs over the last 10 years+important new Seahawks pre-draft visits and metrics on the types of receivers who often become “steals”
So the Seahawks could have bad-to-serviceable defensive lineman against bad-to-serviceable offensive linemen. Or they could start playing the part of “Domanitors” after so many years of being “The Dominated” in that aspect of the trenches; I keep saying it because it keeps being relevant, “How many Seattle Seahawks seasons were single-handedly ended because of Aaron Donald?”
Against the NFC East next season, the Seahawks will face several of the best offensive line interiors (Eagles as usual, Cowboys have revamped, Washington’s been spending there recently) and then there’s Carolina and Detroit with their other conference games. In the AFC, the North schedule means Joel Bitonio/Wyatt Teller in Cleveland and often strong play on the line by the Baltimore Ravens. Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are works in progress, and Seattle’s 17th game comes against the Titans.
If Pete Carroll and John Schneider can’t come away from Carter’s interviews and talking to those who know him without a clear picture of how safe he is in terms of character, then Seahawks fans have already lost the draft. I have said this many times but maybe not enough times: Narratives are usually made out of what happened and rarely don’t include what didn’t happen.
We can talk about Malik McDowell until we are action green in the face, but what about all of the prospects who the Seahawks didn’t draft because of their assessments on his character, work ethic, motivations, and commitment to get better? Whether we have tangible evidence or not of Seattle passing on such players, we can’t prove that Pete and John haven’t crossed out dozens or hundreds of names from draft boards in the past because of their character.
So we probably won’t be able to judge their assessments of Carter until after the draft, assuming he’s on the board when they make their first pick.
If they do draft Carter, the football reasons make all the sense in the world and I’ll assume that their conversations and research led them to a level of comfort because this decision is NOT a question of morality. This is a question of Carter’s availability and commitment and that’s as important as the tape.
If they don’t draft Carter and he’s available, that’s a bold statement because the football player seems destined to dominate bad and average guards and centers in the modern NFL, while at least going toe-to-toe with the good ones. That’s not something that Pete Carroll has ever had at the position.
On Skoronski, the Seahawks have also lacked great interior offensive linemen over most of Pete’s 13 seasons—as I’ve been told by fans on a daily basis since I started covering the team. We haven’t talked much about Skoronski, mostly because he doesn’t seem to fall in the correct draft range of the first round unless Seattle trades up or down, but I did mention him as one of five potential surprise picks.
If Skoronski was bigger and had longer arms, he could be a top-five pick as a left tackle in this draft class. But because of relatively short arms and what DetroitLions.com writer Mike O’Hara described as a small frame in a video I watched this morning, Skoronski projects to guard at the next level—potentially an elite guard though. The Seahawks haven’t had one of those since Steve Hutchinson, which brings back another thought.
Hutchinson went early in the draft for a guard, but was also considered to be one of the most surprising “falls” coming out of Michigan because he was that highly-regarded. It’s possible that Skoronski does end up going behind tackles such as Paris Johnson and Broderick Jones only from teams thinking, “Well, he’s a guard” and maybe he starts to get close to Seattle’s second first round pick at 20th overall.
If the Seahawks took the Jalen Carter risk at #5 and somehow managed to land Peter Skoronski too, that combination of talent on either side of the offensive line would make for a balanced day one and also a rare opportunity for two blue chip prospects to compete in practice day after day in the offseason and beyond. It probably also quells the discomfort that many Seahawks fans would have from the first pick to get such a safe prospect with the next.
Tell me your thoughts in the comments, the Seaside Joe community is getting more and more active as we get closer to the draft! Thanks to all the new members of the rapidly growing Regular Joes club, join us behind-the-SEAnes for only $5/mo or $55/year because I’ll be here for the entire summer!
As I have said in other comments , DT/DE with the 1st pick , if they can get the guy they want by moving around ,fine. They need a Center more than a guard IMHO. A guy that will be there leading the O-line ( in calls at least) for some years. If they can get that guy with one of the 2nd rounders fine, but they need to get one.
That's all and good but showing up out of shape to what is basically a job interview is not a good look for a guy with reported "character concerns".