Besides QB, which position will Seahawks prioritize in 2023 draft?
Seaside Joe 1219: Seahawks fans have now survived the Baker Mayfield drama, can we move onto Seattle's other needs?
The Seattle Seahawks have officially made the exact number of Baker Mayfield trades that I’ve been saying that they would make all year long: 0.
Are we now finally free of the media’s grip on the idea that the Seahawks “obviously must make a move this offseason to acquire a new starting quarterback”?
After Seattle traded Russell Wilson for a package that included two first round picks and Drew Lock, among other articles, the immediate and consistent reaction at Seaside Joe has been that the Seahawks are eschewing an overreaction at quarterback and building up the rest of the team for a 2023 acquisition at the position.
Seaside Joe has never wavered from that belief and therefore I believe readers have gotten an accurate and realistic picture of the “rebuild” without having to waste your time talking about players who were never going to become Seahawks. The best that I could do is write about why certain players would not be coming to Seattle, just to quell any curious minds that couldn’t understand why a team would willingly go into a season with Geno Smith and Lock battling to be the starter for a franchise that had gone to the playoffs in nine of the 12 seasons under Pete Carroll.
The answer is twofold, with a third chapter that could be just as important:
The Seahawks are not good enough to support a mediocre QB
The available quarterbacks were all mediocre or worse
And chapter three:
In 2023, not only are the options a lot more enticing, but Seattle should be better setup to support any quarterback when that time comes
Since the March 8th trade, I’ve ushered Seaside Joe readers through wave after wave of quarterbacks who were never going to become Seattle Seahawks, all while most of the media couldn’t come up with any other kind of content (and they don’t even have to write DAILY SEAHAWKS ARTICLES) and couldn’t bother taking the time to understand or explain how a two-year rebuild plan might work for Carroll and John Schneider. That means that I never baited you into believing that any of these quarterbacks could become Seahawks: Deshaun Watson, Matt Ryan, Colin Kaepernick, Malik Willis, Desmond Ridder, Kenny Pickett, or Lamar Jackson.
I was hopeful that the conclusion of the draft would officially remove Seattle’s quarterback “situation” from the minds of the national media, but unfortunately it was Cleveland’s inability to resolve the Mayfield situation in a reasonable timetable that ultimately kept the fraudulent rumor mongers picking at the Seahawks’ bones for another two months.
Except that the Seahawks haven’t had any quarterback situation since they re-signed Geno Smith other than the same one we are left with in the weeks leading up to training camp: Smith vs. Lock.
That’s been Seattle’s destiny since March 8th and that is why I wrote on March 8th that the Seahawks would avoid making any drastic moves at the position this year. It’s why I wrote on March 9th that the Seahawks would have to avoid any “Erik Bedard-like trades” in 2022, so that they could be setup perfectly to draft a quarterback in 2023. It’s why I wrote that the Seahawks should and would avoid Watson. It’s why you can go back as far as March 16th to read my thoughts on why Seattle would not trade for Baker Mayfield. And on March 21st, after Ryan was traded to the Colts and prior to re-signing Smith, I was writing that the QB position probably wouldn’t get much better than Lock.
And for another refresher, here’s what Pete Carroll believes about QBs that 99-percent of Twitter doesn’t understand. Will they understand now that we’ve survived the “offseason of unsubstantiated rumors”?
At most, I’ve pitched that the Seahawks could entertain signing Jimmy Garoppolo, if the 49ers do release him, something that others in the media haven’t picked up until the last few weeks. I speculated that Jared Goff would make sense as a one-year bridge quarterback, but only if the Lions had decided to part with him and if Seattle did not have to pay him very much and that doesn’t seem likely given that Detroit has made no moves at the position yet.
A little more carouseling could still happen between now and the NFL trade deadline on November 1st, but we’ve now survived the worst of it and Seaside Joe’s March 8th prediction that the Seahawks’ moves would all lead up to a quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft remains astute:
Get your franchise left tackle
Keep all your 2023 draft picks
Don’t commit any 2023 money to quarterback
Keep Tyler Lockett
Build up the rest of the team first, including run game and defense
And up next:
Extend DK Metcalf
It’s all the perfect setup for Pete Carroll to finally get his FIRST real opportunity to draft a franchise NFL quarterback. As the head coach at USC, Carroll was often able to lure four and five-star quarterback talent to the Trojans, and he is clearly aware of how important the position is after spending a decade alongside Russell Wilson. That partnership kept Seattle from having to draft a quarterback until now. But since the 2022 class was so obviously a weak group, the real opportunity is coming in 2023, a rich and diverse collection of quarterbacks.
Seaside Joe has already written many thousands of words on the 2023 quarterback class (and millions of those thousands have been dedicated to Grayson McCall alone) and that won’t be the half of what needs to be said by the time we get to the draft. So instead, let’s dedicate a few minutes to Seattle’s other 2023 first round pick and use today’s Rookie Month post on what else the Seahawks need to help support the next quarterback of the future.
Yes, that’s right—July is Rookie Month at Seaside Joe—and today that includes 2023 rookies. Your support has been immense in helping this newsletter grow without a substantial social media presence (which we don’t want to get sucked into anyway) and that includes every time you forward a newsletter to a Seahawks friend, share on Facebook or Twitter, or become a premium subscriber at $5/month. Thank you for all you do to help spread the good word.
Which OTHER position should the Seahawks target in the 2023 first round?
Let me stop you before you say it: Yes, the Seahawks could entertain trading up in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Setting aside whether this is a smart strategy or not—such an article will come in the future, I’m sure—what should you have me do? Avoid talking about Seattle’s second first round pick simply because the possibility exists that the Seahawks might use it to trade up? Do you have any idea how rare it is for a team to trade two first round picks in the same year to move up for a quarterback?
Better yet, will I ever be able to convince the masses that you don’t need to draft the FIRST quarterback in any given class in order to draft the BEST quarterback in that class.
Knowing that many miles of copy will be written about Seattle’s long-term intentions at quarterback, instead today’s focus will be on the other priority positions that will have a need in 2023 and which of those seems to be THE MOST-LIKELY to happen. Seaside Joe had predicted that the Seahawks would draft a left tackle with the number nine pick, most likely followed by an edge rusher and either a running back or a cornerback in round two. Seattle did just that.
These positions could take priority in 2023:
Interior Offensive Line
Likeliest range: Round 3 or later
The Seahawks did not draft Tyler Linderbaum or any other center in the 2022 NFL Draft and that’s sensible because the interior of the offensive line is not a hugely important position, unless you’ve got most of your other needs sewn up. Because Seattle had to get better at tackle, edge rusher, cornerback, running back, and receiver, that’s where the picks went.
But Austin Blythe is only signed for one season, while Gabe Jackson seems to be nearing the end of his short run with the Seahawks and the book remains out on Damien Lewis and Phil Haynes.
I’m sure that the interior of the offensive line will be addressed in the 2023 draft, but it would take a monster of a prospect (Max Unger levels) for Seattle to go that direction with one of their two second round picks. It seems improbable that the Seahawks will have been able to address all their other bigger needs before the draft that would allow them to make more of a luxury pick at center or guard.
Likeliest range: Round 3
We will need to find out how much 3-4 Clint Hurtt decides to run before knowing to what degree Seattle plans to utilize two inside linebackers. Last season, Bobby Wagner and Jordyn Brooks were full-time players, but even Benson Mayowa/Carlos Dunlap/Cody Barton combined played in fewer than 100-percent of the snaps.
The assumption is that Brooks and Cody Barton will rarely leave the field (assuming Barton wins a starting job) and the latter is indeed a free agent in 2023. But barring another situation like in 2012 where the Seahawks simply couldn’t avoid drafting a future Hall of Fame superstar at inside linebacker in round two, how strongly will Carroll feel about replacing Barton with a priority draft pick?
If Seattle is content with Barton today, I assume they will be content with another third round-or-late inside linebacker in 2023. That could mean Joel Iyiegbuniwe, it could mean Jon Rhattigan, it could mean Tanner Muse, it could mean some other mid-level free agent acquisition.
Unless the Seahawks are extremely dissatisfied with the development of Brooks after three seasons, I don’t see a need to address this position before a few others; the exception would be a player whose coverage skills are so good that it would be hard to deny his impact against defending the middle of the field. However, we’ve seen similar strategies with first and second round linebackers in the last couple of years yield underwhelming results anyway.
Likeliest Range: Round 4, but…
I know, there’s hardly any room for a tight end in the tight ends room, and the Seahawks have Will Dissly signed to a new three-year deal, plus a fifth-year option exercised for Noah Fant in 2023. I think Seattle is happy with their tight ends group, including Colby Parkinson, for the next couple of years. However, if the Seahawks get the opportunity to draft a true game-changer at the position then it’s a chance that has to be accounted for because Dissly and Fant have yet to prove themselves as “complete” tight ends thus far.
I’m not saying that won’t happen in 2022, I’m just saying that because it hasn’t happened yet, the Seahawks are still open to drafting a premier tight end prospect. Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer, South Carolina’s Jaheim Bell are among those being touted highly already.
Likeliest Range: Day 2
It’s fair to wonder if Pete Carroll will never draft a cornerback in the top-80 picks again. Through 13 drafts, Carroll and Schneider have only taken one cornerback in the first three rounds, selecting Shaquill Griffin at pick 90 in 2017.
You could even say that the Seahawks have “kicked it into overdrive” simply by selecting Tre Brown, Coby Bryant, and Tariq Woolen in the 109-153 range over the past two drafts. That’s an extraordinary amount of capital for Carroll to use on cornerbacks.
But similar to the current situation and opportunity at quarterback, perhaps Seattle will adjust philosophy to fit the present needs at cornerback early in the draft.
The only cornerbacks even signed to the roster for 2023 are Brown, Bryant, and Woolen, not including undrafted free agents. If Sidney Jones has a decent season, then the Seahawks might re-sign him. But D.J. Reed had a decent season and Seattle chose not to beat the offer he got from the Jets.
The Seahawks have to hope that Brown, Bryant, or Woolen appear ready to man one side of the field by 2023, because even an early draft pick is unlikely to be a Week 1 starter next season. However, putting a little bit of capital, like a second round pick, into the cornerback position could solidify the position by 2024.
Some early rankings for the top corners in 2023 at PFF: Kelee Ringo at Georgia, Garrett Williams at Syracuse, Eli Ricks at Alabama, Cam Smith at South Carolina, Kris Abrams-Draine at Missouri, and Noah Daniels at TCU. As the season goes on and next year’s draft draws closer, I’ll profile which of those (and others) best fit Carroll’s mold for the position.
Likeliest Range: Depends on the prospect
On the eve of the 2022 NFL Draft, I had become enamored with the prospect of Georgia’s Jordan Davis lining up in the middle of Carroll’s 3-4 defense. That obviously did not happen. But next to Davis at Georgia was a player named Jalen Carter, who is arguably better than both Davis and teammate Devonte Wyatt, both first round picks this year.
Carter, a sophomore, had more TFL (8.5) and sacks (3) than both Wyatt and Davis.
Poona Ford is currently only signed through 2022. Al Woods is 35. Quinton Jefferson is on a one-year deal. Bryan Mone received an extension recently, but will never be in the same conversation as types like Vita Vea or Jeffery Simmons.
Carroll has long sought a disruptive interior presence to his defense and never had it better than during Seattle’s back-to-back Super Bowl runs featuring Tony McDaniel, Brandon Mebane, Clinton McDonald, Michael Bennett, Kevin Williams, and Jordan Hill.
The Seahawks won’t draft just any nose tackle with a first or second round pick. But they could be compelled to draft an elite nose tackle prospect on day two, if not with their other pick on day one.
Likeliest Range: One of first three picks
The future at edge rusher started with Darrell Taylor in the second round in 2020, then followed this year with signing of Uchenna Nwosu and the selection of Boye Mafe. Additionally, the Seahawks have Alton Robinson and Tyreke Smith as “maybes” on the depth chart but I wouldn’t place high expectations on either.
It’s certainly possible that Taylor, Nwosu, and Mafe will put fans at ease through the 2022 season. But even if they do, Seattle would still have to hedge their bets with another early pick in 2023: Not only are Taylor and Nwosu free agents in 2024, more is always better when it comes to players who can disrupt opposing quarterbacks directly in their stupid faces.
The Seahawks are simply not close to where they need to be with their pass rushing unit and even if Hurtt helps a little bit, the talent pool at defensive end and outside linebacker needs to get deeper in Seattle.
This could even mean that the Seahawks draft an edge rusher with their first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Consider a scenario where Seattle picks fourth and they could either select their fourth option at quarterback OR Alabama’s Will Anderson, considered by many to be at least as good of a prospect as Myles Garrett or Nick Bosa.
I still believe the Seahawks will want to address quarterback with their first choice, but their scouts will also do an exhaustive amount of research on the top-ranked edge rushers between now and April.
Likeliest Range: Priority 2
It’s not as though I think wide receiver is necessarily a more valuable position than edge rusher. Or that I believe Seattle has greater needs at receiver than they do at edge rusher. Or that I know for certain that the 2023 receiver class is better than the 2023 edge rusher class.
I’m going to rank wide receiver as the number two Seahawks priority—behind QB—because of some combination of those factors, as well as the fact that I simply see the most-defining characteristic of a modern day championship team to be this:
Can the quarterback beat any defense in the final two minutes?
We saw it with Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill. We saw it with Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp. We saw it with Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs/Gabe Davis. We saw it with Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase. We’ve seen it with Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams.
Tom Brady has two elite receivers. The Rams added Allen Robinson this year after adding OBJ last year. The Bengals go three-deep at receiver talent. Jimmy Garoppolo has been saved by his receivers and George Kittle over and over again.
Teams are loading up at the position, not only through free agency and blockbuster trades, but also through the draft. The Jets have given Zach Wilson both Elijah Moore and Garrett Wilson; the 49ers got Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk; the Cardinals got Rondale Moore and then Hollywood Brown in trade; the Saints added Chris Olave in a room with Michael Thomas; the Commanders are pairing Terry McLaurin with Jahan Dotson; the Eagles traded for A.J. Brown one year after drafting DeVonta Smith; the Dolphins traded for Hill one year after drafting Jaylen Waddle.
I’m confident that Metcalf will be extended in the coming weeks. I’m even hopeful that Tyler Lockett will be a top-20 receiver for at least two more seasons. I’m not counting out Dee Eskridge from ever joining the mix as a starter. But even the Rams—who’ve signed Robinson and drafted second round receivers in 2020 and 2021 as complements to the reigning Offensive Player of the Year—have depth concerns at wide receiver.
Drafting a first round receiver would be the last remaining security blanket to help support whichever quarterback it is that Pete Carroll tabs as Seattle’s savior in 2023.
I’m a big fan of Jordan Addison, a transfer at USC after a dominant career with Pitt, but the wide receiver class is once again expected to be loaded and could include at least a dozen players drafted in the first two rounds.
The Seahawks have drafted four second round receivers (Metcalf, Eskridge, Paul Richardson, Golden Tate) under Carroll. I suspect that 2023 will bring the fifth of those names, if not the first first rounder.