2022 NFL Mock Draft: Projecting 3 high ceiling prospects to Seahawks
Seattle can go in many different directions next year
The Seattle Seahawks fell to 5-10 this week, guaranteeing the team their worst season since 2009. Without a first round pick, Seattle’s top selection in the 2022 NFL Draft is currently slated to be 40th overall, and that’s roughly about where the team has routinely been starting their drafts under Pete Carroll and John Schneider anyway.
Will Pete and John still be calling the shots when the Seahawks are on the clock in 2022?
That’s still a question for another day apparently but even if NFL teams can’t expect to land the next “Chase Young” or “Joe Burrow” prospect unless they’re picking in the top-five, many quality starters have been found in the top half of the second round. In that same Burrow-Young draft class of 2020, you’ll find 2021 Offensive Player of the Year frontrunner Jonathan Taylor at 41 and Defensive Player of the Year frontrunner Trevon Diggs at 51.
Seattle won’t get to pick in the top-five but perhaps a top-five player can still be found. These are three potential names to fit that bill.
EDGE Jermaine Johnson, Florida State
Here’s something that I’m sure nobody remembers or knows about Florida State’s embarrassing 2021 season: They nearly beat Notre Dame in Week 1. The Seminoles forced overtime and a touch of different luck would’ve had Florida State ranked in the top-25 in Week 2, but instead the Irish won 41-38 and then the ‘Noles lost to Jacksonville State in Week 2.
But in that Week 1 loss to Notre Dame, Jermaine Johnson II, a former four-star recruit at Georgia, stood out with 2.5 tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks. Losing to Jacksonville State will forever stain the program, but Johnson had 3.5 TFL and 2.5 sacks that day. And by the end of the season, Jermaine Johnson had 17.5 TFL, 11.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and he was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
Will he fit in with the Seahawks?
PFF also named Johnson as the ACC Defensive Player of the Year:
"Johnson transferred from Georgia to Florida State so that he could be the leader of a defense, and he has been just that down in Tallahassee," PFF wrote. "The 6-foot-5, 262-pound edge defender produced at least one sack in nine of his 12 outings and racked up 14 in total for the season. Against the run, Johnson is the only edge defender in the Power Five who ranks top-15 in both run stops and negatively graded play rate.
"The Seminoles edge defender earned a grade north of 75.0 in run defense and as a pass-rusher, something no other ACC edge defender accomplished in 2021," they added.
Seattle’s defense is ranked 31st in yards allowed for the first time since 2000, when they were only 31 teams in the NFL. The Pete Carroll defense has cratered and so there’s little point in trying to “fit” anyone onto the team right now: We should assume that Ken Norton, Jr. will have nothing to do with the scheme in 2022. A change is necessary.
Rasheem Green now leads the team with 6.5 sacks but is a free agent in 2022. Carlos Dunlap also has 6.5 sacks, but five of those have come in the last two weeks: too little, too late. Dunlap is signed on a reasonable $6.5 million cap hit but will he be deemed “necessary” if the Seahawks do decide to rebuild with 2023 as the goal for returning back to relevancy? Pose the same question to Benson Mayowa ($3.76 million cap hit) and Kerry Hyder ($3.7 million), two players who have combined for 1.5 sacks.
The only other player with more than 1.5 sacks is Darrell Taylor. Seattle needs to assume that the only edge rushing building blocks/developmental pieces on the entire defense are Darrell Taylor (6 sacks) and Alton Robinson, who only has one sack in 15 games going into Week 17.
No, Ken Norton hasn’t put these players in a good position to be productive, but the Seahawks are undeniably extremely weak in an extremely important area of the game. Jermaine Johnson is perhaps the best example of a potential day two edge rusher with day one upside. So why then would he be available at 40?
Johnson wasn’t given any Power 5 offers out of high school and took his chances at Independence Community College in Kansas. It was only after two productive seasons (12.5 sacks) at ICC that Johnson became a four-star transfer recruit who chose Georgia over 21 other offers. He had a difficult time standing out in the rotation in 2019 but had five sacks in seven games in 2020, then decided to transfer to FSU. The site DraftDive.com worries that Johnson won’t be able to win against bigger NFL offensive linemen:
Throughout this season, I kept realizing that Johnson was easily neutralized when facing linemen that are significantly larger than him. This is a big red flag because in order to be a top EDGE in the NFL, the size of the opposing offensive lineman can’t matter. A perfect example of a player who this doesn’t affect is Chase Young. We saw it from him at Ohio St. and we continue to see from him in the NFL. He has the ability to make any offensive lineman look small. This is a big reason why he was a top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Although I don’t think Johnson can be as good as Young right out of the gate, I do think that he can eventually catch up.
It’s the “boom or bust” mentality with Jermaine Johnson, so if Seattle wants upside over a high floor, Johnson could be the guy to groom behind Carlos Dunlap.
WR John Metchie III, Alabama
Two truths about the wide receiver position in football that were further confirmed this year: Being 29 is REALLY OLD and Alabama is going to continue to produce many of the best prospects.
Tyler Lockett turns 30 next September.
John Metchie and Jameson Williams are heading to the league.
A four-star recruit in the class of 2019, Metchie stood out immediately during his first spring game with the Tide:
“Metchie was a guy not a lot of people knew about until probably the spring game, and he had eight catches and 104 yards and everyone was like, ‘This John Metchie guy is going to be pretty solid,’ ” the Crimson Tide tight end said.
As a sophomore, Metchie had 55 catches for 916 yards and six touchdowns as the number two to DeVonta Smith, after Jaylen Waddle went down with injury.
This past season, Metchie caught 96 passes for 1,142 yards and eight touchdowns in 13 games, then injured his knee in the SEC Championship game and will be out for the College Football Playoffs. He was dominant in big moments, catching 29 passes for 420 yards and two touchdowns over the last three weeks, including in that SEC Championship that he wasn’t able to finish.
The Seahawks offense is in terrible shape and there is no heir apparent to Lockett. No matter how hard you may want to disagree with me about the wide receiver position, you won’t be able to find a single example over the last two years of a wide receiver older than 29 being among the best at his position. Even Julio Jones has crumbled at 31. Doug Baldwin signed an extension at 29 and was finished by 30. At present, Seattle’s looking at a receiver room of DK Metcalf, Lockett, and Dee Eskridge in 2022; that offers little reassurance about the quality of play that the Seahawks should be able to expect in 2023 and beyond.
Metcalf’s been an afterthought of Russell Wilson’s this year.
Lockett is about to be 30.
Eskridge hasn’t proven a thing. He has 57 yards on 17 targets in eight games.
The 6’, 195 lbs Metchie could be a first round pick but it may be just as likely that he winds up in round two. The knee injury is one reason to expect his stock to slip a little, even if it is not a long-term concern; it’ll give his competition a chance for a leg up over the next five months.
CB Trent McDuffie, Washington
It will be harder to name a position that the Seahawks don’t need to upgrade than ones that are set for next season and counting. Cornerback is certainly high on the list of priorities and given that we can’t say for sure that Pete and John are returning, let’s throw out the book on “Seattle hasn’t drafted a cornerback that high since….”
That era is OVER.
The local defensive back just finished his third season with the Huskies, recording 35 tackles (4 TFL) and six passes defensed, triple the amount he had as a freshman in 2019. A four-star recruit out of Bellflower, CA that year, McDuffie was following in the footsteps of some highly regarded defensive back draftees: Byron Murphy, Budda Baker, Taylor Rapp, Elijah Molden, Kevin King, and Sidney Jones just in the last four years.
Here’s what TheDraftNetwork has to say about the 5’11, 195 lbs McDuffie:
Pros: McDuffie has above average size with excellent overall athleticism. He’s a productive player in both man and zone coverage. Plays with outstanding patience and is always in control. Never plays panicked. Outstanding feet and is smooth and fluid in his pedal and in transitions. Displays excellent cover quickness to drop his weight and stay connected through angles. Can mirror receivers both in and out of breaks. McDuffie displays very good route recognition and instincts and is extremely comfortable in zone coverage, showing an ability to keep his eyes on the receiver but also read the quarterback. Very good short-area quickness to break on throws in front of him. Has very good straight-line speed to carry receivers vertically. McDuffie shows excellent ball skills and is competitive at the catch point. Outstanding as a tackler and blitzer and is ultra-competitive. He has forced three fumbles in his career.
Cons: McDuffie lacks top-end physical traits in terms of overall size, strength, and length. While he certainly can hold his own on the outside, bigger and more physical receivers will give him a challenge both through the route and at the catch point. He has very good straight-line speed to carry vertically, but will not be able to recover if he takes a false step. You don’t see him play press often.
The Seahawks have work to do at cornerback: D.J. Reed is a free agent, as is Sidney Jones, but will anyone be worth bringing back? Ryan Neal, John Reid, Bless Austin…it’s been a disaster trying to fix the secondary midseason. Only Ugo Amadi and Tre Brown are currently under contract for 2022.
If McDuffie falls for size concerns, Seattle might be in a position to take a chance on a player who plays down the street. Another player to consider is teammate Kyler Gordon, a similarly-sized defensive back who had two picks and seven passes defensed in 2021.
Perhaps it is finally time to atone for the decision that Pete Carroll and John Schneider made in 2017:
Malik McDowell over Budda Baker.
It’s time for a change.