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Seahawks 2023 draft: 5 most-likely trade down teams for no. 5 pick
If John Schneider's angling for a future first round pick, could these teams deliver? Seaside Joe 1456
While I’ve long felt that combine testing is overrated—maybe a little more helpful to day two and day three picks than first rounders—the Seattle Seahawks are having some of their most important meetings of the year this week. Not just between John Schneider and other GMs, but also with the top prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft.
I’m not using the number five pick in the draft on a quarterback until I’ve looked him in the eyes and had a short conversation with him. You can tell most of what you need to know about a person with those two prerequisites. Sure, in terms of playing football, there’s going to be a lot of other required abilities to be worthy of a high draft selection.
But if I’m a GM, I’m ticking boxes and scratching off names from the short list of potential top-5 picks based on these interviews.
What if the Seahawks come out of this week’s combine with a list of only three or four names who they consider worthy of the number five pick? What if all of those prospects are off the board by pick number five?
Or simply what if Schneider’s top priority is to come out of day one with two first round picks made in 2023 and two first round picks secured for 2024?
It’s a wish that a lot of Seattle fans have because the Seahawks dropped out of the top-3 when the Denver Broncos won their season finale? At that position, I think Seattle’s options would have been much more clear: Their choice of the number one QB plus the top-two defensive prospects. At five, it may not be so clear.
However, and I don’t want to keep glossing over this possibility as I fear I’ve been doing, which is what if someone like Tyree Wilson or Christian Gonzalez or Anthony Richardson legitimately do become top-3 prospects? That can’t be ruled out. Not only because it could push a prospect down to the Seahawks, but because it could even be good for Seattle to land someone who rises up the draft boards in the next two months.
I don’t want to get my broad and general evaluations of the top of the draft class confused or mixed up for heavy, hardcore, strict analysis of “Seattle should do this!” and “Seattle should not do that!” because I’m kind of a hands-off, “whatever happens happens and we move forward with the picks” type of Seahawks writer who believes we don’t know the quality of the draft until years afterwards.
For example, the tenor of my write-up on Tyree Wilson is definitely leaning towards “He’s top-5 material? Really?” but that’s not a value judgment of Wilson’s future. It’s an evaluation of what top-five prospects have generally had on their resume in the past to the assess the probability of him going in that range. It’s the exact same case with my skepticism of Will Levis being a top-10 pick.
This process has generally pointed me in the right direction, as was the case when I ignored all the mock drafts and kept arguing in 2022 that Malik Willis and Desmond Ridder were third round QBs, not first rounders. But then I also shared skepticism that Derek Stingley, Jr. was actually worthy of an early selection and yet the Houston Texans picked him at three, ahead of Sauce Gardner.
I’ll own my mistakes, so you can trust that I’m being honest when I share my projections and what I’ve gotten right.
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I can sense myself wanting to write multiple articles today so allow me to briefly run down five potential trade-down spots for John Schneider if he feels like there’s no “have to have” prospect left on the board after the first four picks are made.
I’ve previously written that maybe the NFL doesn’t love this QB class as much as the media does, as well as a mock draft that don’t have multiple top-10 QBs like everybody else, but again these are not predictions. It’s the same “What-if” as the other writers, it’s just the “What-if” that nobody else seems to be covering yet.
If the Seahawks don’t love a QB prospect who falls to them at five, but another team does, then perhaps Seattle could grab a future first round pick in moving down. Here’s a brief look at one website’s projection for draft capital in 2023, as we all know that the Seahawks are stacked but it’s a reminder of the other teams:
My trade projections are not pulled from thin air. Trades are based on market (supply and demand) and how badly the teams want the players or prospects. They are not merely based on point value charts. That would be like saying that Schneider and Howie Roseman are on the phones working a trade and Seattle wants more than what the chart says and Roseman replies, “Ahhh, but John. That’s not what the chart says! This is not fair. :( Wahhhh. Wahhh. Boo-hoo! Cry!”
If you’ve got three teams after a pick, that’ll increase the value more than when you’ve only got one. That’s simple and easy to understand.
So these scenarios are not from thin air or from point value charts, but more like a combination of charts, recent history, and gut feeling—which is akin to “thin air” I must admit.
9 - Panthers
I’m quite confident that one QB will go in the top-four picks. I’d lean more “not surprised” than “guaranteed” that there will be two. It seems that what we’re really asking for pick five is, “How badly will NFL teams want the number three QB in this class?”
It’s interesting because while the media has hyped Levis for his tools, most of what I see from fans is that they loathe the idea of their favorite team drafting him. He’s not getting good PR from anyone other than Mel Kiper and a few Kiiper wannabes, even if that doesn’t really matter.
I think it’s largely because there’s a huge section of fans out there who are sick of the feeling that the media is bullshitting them. They’re telling you that 2+2=5 with so many quarterbacks. That’s not me saying that Levis is going to be an unsuccessful NFL player, that’s just me pointing out that the Levis hype train practically lacks humility.
Why not frame him as what he actually is: Not as a player who “Was only bad because he didn’t have a good supporting cast in 2022,” but instead as a quarterback who you’re willing to take that gamble on in spite of his flaws? Acknowledge the flaws and stop making excuses for them. I think if the media did that with Levis, more fans would be into the idea of Levis.
But I could also see C.J. Stroud being available at pick five, either instead of Levis or next to him and Bryce Young as the only top-four QB.
With either case, the Panthers seem like the next-closest team on the board that could be willing to trade up and far enough back to potentially sacrifice a future first rounder for a franchise quarterback. Since buying the team in 2018, Carolina owner David Tepper has consistently overpaid at the position but never in the draft. This seems like the year he’d do that.
In 2018, the Jets traded three second round picks (two in the top-50 that year) to go from six to three for Sam Darnold. That same year, the Bills traded two second round picks to go from 12 to seven for Josh Allen.
It’s not often, if ever, that a team trades a future first round pick to go get the number two QB in a class—but when they do, he’s the number two overall pick. That was the case for Carson Wentz and Robert Griffin III. It almost never happens with the number three QB in a class, but for Trey Lance he was also the number three overall pick behind two QBs.
If teams aren’t falling over themselves to get a QB prospect and he drops to five, that’s a sign that the supply-and-demand isn’t going to be there for him when he gets there. Sometimes teams get lucky, like the Giants when the Bears moved up from 20 to 11 for Justin Fields in 2021; curiously, I think Stroud is a better Ohio State prospect than Fields, but he doesn’t have as much good PR behind him and I don’t sense that same eagerness.
If the Panthers really want to move up to five, I have to imagine that Carolina GM Scott Fitterer (former Schneider employee) would say, “We have two first round picks this year (one from SF) and the cost here is clearly multiple second round picks…not a future first.”
Schneider would have to convince him to keep all his picks this year and that the only way he’s moving up is to give up his 2024 first. If he can do that, the Seahawks may get the same prospect who they wanted at five at nine and be only the second team so far (after the Texans) to have multiple first round picks in 2024.
And I’d be quite hopeful that if this were the case that the Panthers, having turned over their offense to a rookie QB, would be sending back a top-8 pick next year.
11 - Titans
I wrote recently about how Tennessee’s new GM has a history of being involved in blockbuster trades involving quarterbacks. What should be obvious by now is that Trevor Lawrence is going to own the AFC South until the Texans, Colts, or Titans can compete at quarterback. Right now, none of them can, but Tennessee also knows that Houston and Indianapolis are in prime position to pick the first two in 2023.
What if the top-three all go to the AFC South?
That’s leverage that Schneider could use against Ron Carthon to finagle a 2024 first round pick from Tennessee. “Bryce Young is going to the Texans, C.J. Stroud is going to the Colts, are you really going to turn the team over to Malik Willis in a year?”
If Houston doesn’t completely screw up their draft picks and cap space over the next two years, the Titans will surely fall behind the Texans. They’re already behind the Jaguars. If Tennessee doesn’t go the veteran route to replace Ryan Tannehill before the draft, it could because they’re preparing to make a move on day one…and we know they won’t be trading up with the teams at pick 2 (HOU) and 4 (IND).
This could be a straight-up 11 and 2024 1st for 5.
Could Houston be so hard up for two of the top-five prospects that by the end of draft season they want to secure both their top-ranked QB and their number one defensive lineman? I would say that this feels unlikely because the Texans should be comfortable with where they sit at 12, knowing that they’re going to get someone at the top of the draft already.
But because Houston GM Nick Caserio also owns picks 33, 65, 73, 96, 102 (nearly seven picks in the top-100) plus two first rounders in 2024, they have so much house money that nothing can be ruled out.
What if the Texans want Jalen Carter first and a QB second? There’s apparently more depth and debate at the quarterback position than there is with Carter, who seems to be alone on an island for all the defensive prospects, even including Will Anderson.
Therefore, Houston’s top-three trade-up spots would have to be Chicago (if they trade down with Indy), Arizona, and Seattle. Wouldn’t the Seahawks make the most sense? The only question is: Do the Texans think they’re better than the Browns? Do the Seahawks think that the Texans are better than the Browns? Which of those two 2024 first round picks will be higher?
Yes, I think that Moons is a better name than the “C-word” and actually given that Jeff Bezos could buy the team, wouldn’t that make even more sense as a mascot?
Also sensible: The Moons need a quarterback and a reason for prospective buyers to be interested in the team. I kind of like Sam Howell, actually (I pitched him to the Seahawks as a late pick who made way more sense than the higher ranked guys) but Washington continues to compete as the NFL’s most boring franchise. Even when they almost make the playoffs.
The last time that Washington was interesting, they traded up for RGIII. Is it that time again?
You may be surprised to learn that even trades from 16 to 5 don’t necessarily net future first round picks. In 2012, the RGIII year, the Cowboys went from 14 to 6 for Morris Claiborne by only having to sacrifice pick 45. In 2009, the Jets traded picks 17, 52, and three players to move up to five for Mark Sanchez.
But two years ago, the Dolphins desperately wanted to stay in position for a receiver after trading down with the 49ers in 2021 and moved up from 12 to 6 by giving up their first rounder in 2022. It could happen.
With enough bidders, this is potentially a transaction with Dan Snyder that someone could actually complete. The question for Seahawks fans is simply this: How upset would you be if Seattle fell out of the top-15 entirely but added a 2024 first round pick?
23 - Vikings
Finally, when I think of dramatic drops in the first round of the draft I go back to 2011: The Falcons traded picks 26, 59, 118, 124, and a 2012 first rounder to the Browns for pick six because Atlanta really wanted Julio Jones.
Moves like this are obviously super rare and I wouldn’t expect it, but maybe Minnesota is the team near the bottom of the first round that is most likely to consider such a trade. Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is going into his second career draft as a GM and last year Minnesota was involved in another huge drop: He dealt picks 12, 46 to the Lions for picks 32, 34, and 66.
In that case, the Vikings fell down. Perhaps this time, Minnesota is looking to move up.
Kirk Cousins is not Adofo-Mensah’s guy. Technically, Cousins is not head coach Kevin O’Connell’s guy either, but KOC coached Cousins in Washington. What if the Vikings feel like they’re in a potential “Alex Smith-Patrick Mahomes” situation and want to make that move to develop a signal-caller like Richardson for one year behind Cousins, who is a 2024 free agent?
The Vikings have a road block, which is that they traded their second round pick for T.J. Hockenson already and they’re even lacking capital on day three. Per PFF’s chart, Minnesota is 28th (almost 29th) in 2023 draft capital.
This is one case where the Seahawks would essentially be sacrificing any blue chip or near-blue chip prospects in exchange for future draft capital. But it would also be a ton of future draft capital: I think Minnesota would have to pull the rare “three first round picks” to complete this trade because they can’t include a 2023 second, multiple 2023 picks, or even a 2024 third rounder, which they also lack. They would need to trade Cousins to acquire more immediate capital, another possibility, but hopefully not to the Seahawks; the picks would be preferable.
Is there any chance that Seattle would feel like, “Okay, we don’t love the top of this draft but we do love the depth of it; let’s become draft rich in 2024 and 2025” and make a move down that far? By being the first team to add a 2025 first round pick, the Seahawks could have a ton of power in the next QB class.
But it would come at the sacrifice of this class.
Let me know which of these trades seems preferable, if any, in the Seaside Joe comments—I’ll keep giving out free premium subs to new commenters! Share, like, subscribe, and become a Regular Joe for only $55/year! More content to come soon and everyday.