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Seahawks' 2023 draft plans undergoing seismic shift with new QB information
Geno Smith's breakout and a disappointing season for the incoming class have changed Seattle's draft expectations: Seaside Joe 1345
If you asked any dialed-in NFL draft fans or experts in the offseason which teams would be first in line for a 2023 quarterback—expected at the time to be the best all-around class since 2018’s crop with Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson—and I think these would be your top-five answers:
Seahawks, Texans, Lions, Falcons, Giants
You could hem and haw over other teams deserving mention, but these five franchise all had the key elements necessary to be in the running for Bryce Young or one of the other top prospects at the position: Fans expected them to be really bad and to still have a cavern at quarterback by next April.
As Pete Carroll told us before the season started, you don’t know till you know.
"People have been saying stuff about teams for years. They don't know. They're just guessing at this point, and then we go and prove it and we see where we are ... Win a big game in the opener or struggle and not win a big game in the opener, you've got to come back and get going again and back on track regardless."
While the Houston Texans have situated themselves at the top (1-6-1) and the Detroit Lions (2-6) are nipping at their heels despite beating the Packers in Week 9, the other three teams have proven to be too good for the most bad. The Falcons are only 4-5, but tied for first in part thanks to wins over the Seahawks and 49ers. Head coach Arthur Smith has to win as many games as possible just to ensure he’ll be around when Atlanta replaces Marcus Mariota.
The Giants are 6-2, which is the same as the number of touchdowns (6) and interceptions (2) by quarterback Daniel Jones. New York still needs an upgrade at quarterback. They’ll have to go another route besides the top-five of the draft, barring a trade up a la Goff/Wentz in 2016.
And then you’ve got the Seahawks, the one team out of those five that now appears too good overall and too set at quarterback to be seriously considering the position in the first round… UNLESS it just so happens that the prospect is Young*.
*What do we say at Seaside Joe about QB prospects? It’s perfectly okay to disagree with the prospect that someone else likes! And not necessary to inform them of the “red flags” that you see or you hear about the quarterback in question, knowing that the huge fan of that prospect is likely aware of said concerns that some people have and is okay with it.
For months and months now we’ve heard that Bryce Young won’t be able to hold off all of these challengers who are “more physically gifted” and “naturally talented” and “taller.” That last one doesn’t need quotes, usually. Young is not as tall as most of the other quarterback prospects in the 2023 draft. However, he does have one advantage that I think will matter.
Most of the others…are bad. Or, not good enough to be automatically handed all the trappings, attention, and monetary benefits that come with being a first round quarterback. The 2023 quarterback class is not only a huge disappointment thus far, it is also being overshadowed and out-classed by the group expected to enter the league in 2024.
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Now, this is something that I wrote not long ago, on Twitter I believe, which is that the 2024 class appears to be shaping up as a lot better than the 2023 group. Something that has stuck in my craw since is a reply to the affect of: “Ugh, don’t people say that every year?”
I could understand that many people were bamboozled by bad reporting when it came to the 2022 draft class. I was steadfast throughout draft season that the 2022 class was the worst we’ve had since 2013 and that I didn’t expect anyone other than Kenny Pickett to be drafted ahead of the third round. That turned out to be true, but even I was surprised a little bit by that.
The 2021 QB class was good. The 2020 QB class was okay. The 2019 QB class was bad. The 2018 class was great.
“But the 2018 class started with Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold. This man, this “Seaside Joe,” is a complete idiot!!!”
I’m only talking about quarterbacks as prospects, not quarterbacks as they appear in hindsight based on how they do in the NFL. The 2018 class had five first round picks, including four of the top-10, which is what allowed Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson to be available at picks seven and 32.
When evaluating the 2022 class, it seemed as though that group would be devalued even further based on how the 2023 class appeared in binoculars. “Don’t draft a first or second round quarterback now, it could make it harder for fans to accept drafting a first round quarterback next year.”
Look at the Steelers: Now they’re 2-6 and Pittsburgh could potentially have the number one pick in the draft. Is Pickett good enough to stop a team from drafting Bryce Young? Is that going to draw ridicule if they do take a quarterback, even if it’s exaclty what they could use?
Malik Willis and Desmond Ridder were not first round worthy prospects, but maybe they could have gone earlier if it weren’t for teams trying to wait it out until 2023: Young, Stroud, Anthony Richardson, Will Levis, and Tyler Van Dyke were five names you’d hear a lot.
Devin Leary, Sam Hartman, Jaren Hall, Hendon Hooker, Tanner McKee, K.J. Jefferson, and Cameron Rising might be among a handful of names that had believers that if things break right, they could go earlier than expected. Of course, Seaside Joe has been siding with Grayson McCall since April, 2021.
Biased as this opinion most certainly is: I think McCall could now actually be the second-best quarterback prospect in 2023, which is essentially where I’ve had him ranked for the last two years already.
And I still think McCall could be lucky to hear his name called on the first two days of the draft, but it’s the fall of so many others that has helped the Coastal Carolina superstar rise up to the rankings to at least have Young in his sights.
I thought 2023 would be a banger class. I was wrong. It’s the 2024 group that we need to pay attention to: Caleb Williams, Quinn Ewers, Drake Maye.
For a long time we thought the Seahawks must be seeking quarterback help in the 2023 draft. I think that’s still in the cards, but it might be a day three pick instead of a first rounder. Geno Smith’s play will result in a new contract that settles the position for a while and that might not be a bad thing when it comes to Seattle finding a player who could unseat him one day.
This section is about QB prospects, so feel free to skip it if you don’t care!
QB Survivor has not had an update since October 26, but the game is far from over. The cast just needs some readjustments and the votes will need to focus not on who the best prospect is, only on who the best quarterback for the Seahawks is going to be. Because the Broncos pick is now outside of the top-10 (Seattle’s selections from Denver currently sit at 11 and 41) and the 2023 class has been so disappointing—while Geno Smith has been so impressive—we have to think that Young is now a longshot to be the winner of QB Survivor. Whereas many of those competitors I just named haven’t played like future first round picks.
2023 Prospects Falling
QB Anthony Richardson, Florida
Richardson has nine touchdowns and seven interceptions in nine starts. Any thought of a team drafting him in the first round would truly be historic as the only positives you can take away are, “Well, maybe if he has perfect coaching for five years, he could be a star.” Okay… but that doesn’t sound like a FIRST ROUND pick to me. Shouldn’t FIRST ROUND picks already be stars?
QB Will Levis, Kentucky
There are so many prospects that play football well, that I just have a hard time buying one in the FIRST ROUND who doesn’t have a strong college resume. Levis has 16 touchdowns (tied for 38th) and eight interceptions (17th-most) and he’s a fifth-year senior who needed to transfer to even find a modicum of success after losing a competition to Sean Clifford at Penn State. Levis seems like a day two prospect to me, but I see people putting him in the first round usually because the other options have fallen off. Two weeks ago against Tennessee, Levis had no touchdowns, three interceptions, and 98 yards on 27 attempts.
QB Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
The fastest-rising star of the year, Hooker (like Levis, an “old” senior) hit a road block against the Georgia defense this week (no touchdowns, one interception, 18 carries for 17 yards) and people are pumping the brakes.
QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
There are some people who love Stroud, but also plenty who have a lot of doubts. I really think we have to treat some schools like they’re “airbrushing” the quarterbacks. If you play at Ohio State, it’s like the difference between someone seeing you in person or only having to show somebody the most perfect picture of you, airbrushed, amazing lighting, on your best day. Which is going to be more attractive? It’s not to say that the person isn’t attractive, it’s only to say that you need to distinguish what’s being airbrushed. Stroud went 10/26 for 76 yards against Northwestern this past weekend.
QB Sam Hartman, Wake Forest
One of my favorites over the past year, Hartman has thrown six interceptions in his last two starts, both ugly losses for the Demon Deacons.
QB D.J. Uiagalelei, Clemson
The former five-star prospect made some strides forward this season, but then some strides back, getting benched at one point and potentially for the rest of the season.
QB Tanner McKee, Stanford
I see nothing of interest. McKee has one touchdown over his last four starts even though he’s thrown about 170 passes.
2023 Prospects Rising
QB Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina
Here’s a comp: He’s a tall Tua Tagovailoa. Extremely accurate. Protects the hell out of the football. Mobile. Skyhigh football IQ. Can’t throw 50 yards downfield. McCall has hinted that he intends to enter the 2023 NFL Draft even though he does not expect to be drafted early. McCall won’t be eligible for the Senior Bowl unfortunately, and that could hurt his draft stock even more, but I think he is still the second-best all-around QB prospect. McCall’s career: 70% completions, 10.4 Y/A, 75 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 1,035 rushing yards, 15 touchdowns. He doesn’t have bad games.
QB Bo Nix, Oregon
Three underwhelming years at Auburn dropped him off the board. But Nix has been dominant since an opening season loss to Georgia. He could work his way up to a much higher draft position than anticipated.
QB Jayden Daniels, LSU
Arizona State transfer has reached new heights at LSU, could he be the next Joe Burrow? Daniels is coming off of a 3-TD performance and a win over Alabama. He has 14 TD/1 INT on the season with 619 rushing yards and 10 TD.
2024 QBs Rising
The Seahawks have two 2023 first round picks but I think there’s some sound strategy in considering a trade that nets them an extra pick in 2024 instead. Think of the Eagles, who did just that and now have the Saints first round pick in 2023, which figures to be in the top-10.
QB Drake Maye, UNC
His numbers are insane and Maye has the best stats in the country despite being a redshirt freshman in his first college season: 31 TD/3 INT, 71% completions, 513 rushing yards.
QB Caleb Williams, USC
The Oklahoma transfer is being compared to Patrick Mahomes and most expect him to be the top pick in 2024. Williams has 28 TD/1 INT and 287 rushing yards with four touchdowns.
QB Quinn Ewers, Texas
The top prospect last year, Ewers lost a little time with injury. His numbers don’t pop like the other two, but he’s young and his tape suggests a bright future for a Texas team that figures to compete for the national championship in 2023.
Seattle’s best bet might be to shore up the defense, maybe the interior of the offensive line, focus on another weapon for the offense, and then see if they can increase their 2024 draft capital once next year’s offseason comes around. It seems to be working for the Eagles.