Discover more from Seaside Joe
Seahawks 2023 two-round mock draft: How high could Broncos' picks become?
Denver's future is bleak so that Seattle's doesn't have to be: Seaside Joe 1352
How many games will the Denver Broncos win? We should have a much clearer idea of that answer after the next two weeks: The Broncos host the 2-7 Raiders on Sunday, then travel to face the 3-7 Panthers in Week 12.
As it stands today, Denver’s pick going to Seattle is situated seventh overall, with the Raiders (2nd) and Panthers (3rd) among the six teams ahead of that choice. However, if the Broncos were already 3-7, their pick wouldn’t be seventh, it would be fifth.
And that would mean that the second round selection going from Denver to Seattle would be 36th or so.
The Seahawks could receive FOUR picks in the top-41 draft selections over two years (+players) in exchange for Russell Wilson.
Seaside Joe is reader-supported news. To receive new posts and to support a Seahawks newsletter, become a free or paid subscriber.
Could the Broncos lose to the Raiders? They’ve already done it once this season, falling 32-23 in Week 4, one of only two wins for Josh McDaniels so far in his return to being a head coach. Denver’s injuries are also “mounting” per The Denver Post, with cornerback K’Waun Williams and right tackle Billy Turner the latest to have their statuses in doubt; the Broncos also saw receiver Jerry Jeudy and center Graham Glasgow leave their latest game without returning to action.
We’re never rooting for injuries. But we are allowed to observe injuries and to consider if those injuries will increase the odds of Denver finishing with one of the two or three worst records in the NFL.
It might be easier to ask, “Which key players on the Broncos aren’t injured right now?”
Russell Wilson, Courtland Sutton, and Melvin Gordon seem healthy enough to play on offense. Guards Dalton Risner and Quinn Meinerz aren’t surprising starters, but left tackle Calvin Anderson is just filling in at left tackle (starter Garrett Bolles on IR) and Turner’s backup at right tackle, Cam Fleming, is also hurt and questionable to play. Wilson is playing behind second and potentially third-string offensive tackles, with two of his top three receivers (K.J. Hamler missed last week’s loss to the Titans) at risk of missing the Raiders and Panthers games. And Gordon was only meant to be a complement to Javonte Williams (IR), not the starter next to Latavius Murray.
The team that Denver has managed to put out their over the first nine games currently ranks 32nd in points scored, 32nd in points per drive, 31st in scoring percentage per drive, 31st in touchdown passes, 28th in yards per carry, and 30th in first downs.
In their last five games, the Broncos have scored 9 points (with OT), 16 points (with OT), 9 points, 21 points (against the Jaguars), and 10 points. That’s six touchdowns in five games, with half of those coming against Jacksonville.
It’s not difficult to imagine Denver finishing the season last in scoring.
The Broncos are polar opposites on defense: 1st in points allowed. Denver is first in passing yards and passing touchdowns allowed, first in net yards per pass attempt allowed, third against the pass by DVOA. But injuries have hit the defensive side of the ball for the Broncos, too.
Star safety Justin Simmons has missed more than half of the season, including Week 10 against Tennessee. The other safety, Caden Sterns, is on IR. Cornerback Ronald Darby is on IR. Pass rusher Randy Gregory is on IR. And now cornerback K’Waun Williams, who hasn’t missed a game, is week-to-week.
Plus, the Broncos traded Bradley Chubb to the Dolphins. The last time that the Broncos played the Raiders, the defense had Darby, Sterns, Chubb, Williams, and Gregory. They won’t have any of those starters in Week 11.
Looking at the team that Denver has put around Wilson now: He doesn’t have the running back, the center (Lloyd Cushenberry, also injured), the left tackle, the right tackle, or the top two receivers who he expected going into the season. There was never a good tight end to begin with, as rookie Greg Dulcich has taken over that role since Week 6.
Could the Broncos actually lose the rest of their games? As I said in the beginning, we’ll have a much better idea as to the answer of that question if Denver can’t beat the Raiders or Panthers.
After those two games, the Broncos travel to Baltimore, host the Chiefs, host the Cardinals, travel to L.A. to face the Rams, go to Kansas City, then host the Chargers in the season finale.
If I’m being bold, I’d say finishing with the number ~four pick is in the Denver Broncos’ wheelhouse after a 3-6 start.
Catching up to the 1-7-1 Texans at pick one would take a monumental lack of effort, but the Broncos can immediately leap over the Raiders and Panthers by losing their next two games. If that becomes the case, then maybe the draft order falls Texans, Eagles (via Saints), Jaguars, Broncos—for argument’s sake. That could also give Seattle the 35th pick in round two (there are only 31 first round picks next year because Miami was punished) plus their own first and second round selections.
With a bye week on deck for the Seahawks, please allow Seaside Joe a moment to consider what a 2023 two-round mock draft could look like for Seattle next year. This a momentary lapse in present day reality for a glimpse at possibilities with a futuristic fantasy.
Please keep in mind that Seaside Joe is something that I create in my FREE time, so if you like the newsletter/blog and want to support, then $5 is all it takes to help make a huge dent in changing the future of online Seahawks media.
2023 NFL Draft
Pick 4, Seahawks (from DEN) - DL Jalen Carter, Georgia
This is a boilerplate draft choice, you’ll see his name connected to the Seahawks over and over again if the pick is this high, but it’s important that Seaside Joe addresses the Jalen Carter possibility. Because after all, picks like Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, and Charles Cross were all fairly predictable. The idea that the Seahawks “always reach” is based on when Seattle was picking in the late first round.
Early first round, the only surprise under Pete Carroll has been Bruce Irvin.
If the Seahawks end up in the top-five, there’s a chance that Carter will fall outside of the top-two or top-three. Yes, “fall” because some people will cite him as the best prospect in the entire class. However, like usual, positional needs will push the best prospect out of the number one spot.
The Texans are going to draft Bryce Young. The teams that Seattle wants to see between them and Houston are the Panthers, Lions, and potentially the Raiders, because those are the franchises most-likely to pick a quarterback. I’ve covered the Will Anderson possibility once already.
It could be a draft that falls Bryce Young at one, the number two quarterback prospect at two, Anderson at three, and Carter at four or five.
For the Seahawks, the choice would be so simple. Of all the needs on Seattle’s roster, quarterback could take a backseat thanks to the play of Geno Smith and the probability that he will return to Seattle next season, while this range is also too high for an interior offensive lineman or an inside linebacker. The Seahawks had a high grade on cornerback Sauce Gardner, but shockingly I now couldn’t imagine Pete Carroll picking a corner in the first round next year thanks to the play of Tariq Woolen, Coby Bryant, and Mike Jackson.
That only leaves me with three positions to consider in the top-10: Edge rusher, interior pass rusher, wide receiver.
Carter is considered to be a better prospect than former teammate Travon Walker, the number one pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. A couple of other defensive linemen will get mentioned in this range, including Myles Murphy and Bryan Bresee of Clemson, but I’m not going to be an anti-frontrunner by bypassing Carter for the purposes of today’s mock draft.
Pick 23, Seahawks - S Brian Branch, Alabama
As wild as it seems to project a first round safety to a team that is paying Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams a combined $36 million next season, it is also abundantly obvious how necessary it will be for Seattle to fortify the position in the coming years. The Seahawks have gotten respectable play from Ryan Neal over the past six weeks, but is he going to be a part of Seattle’s plan over the next five years? (Neal is a restricted free agent in 2023, and then unrestricted in 2024.) And Diggs isn’t having the Pro Bowl season that he had in 2020 and 2021.
Branch wouldn’t only bring the element of being a future replacement, he would be an immediate Week 1 contributer in the STAR position who could be the fearsome force on defense that the Seahawks haven’t had since the days of Kam Chancellor.
The Seahawks would go from having Diggs, Neal, Josh Jones, and Joey Blount at safety (current rotation) to having Diggs, Adams, Branch, and Neal in 2023, then potentially Adams, Branch, and Diggs in 2024, or just Branch and only one of those two current high-paid defensive backs.
Picking a dominant and versatile safety in the first round is a much more likely possibility for a Pete Carroll team than simply choosing the best outside corner. This move would have both immediate and future impacts on Seattle’s roster and how the Seahawks play defense. If there’s a chance for Pete to get prospects like Carter and Branch in the first round, the upside of the defense will have no limit.
Pick 35, Seahawks (from DEN) - EDGE Jared Verse, Florida State
Defense, defense, defense? Talk to a team that is still ranked 22nd in points allowed, 26th in yards, 27th in rushing yards, 21st in passing yards, and coming off another game when they couldn’t make critical stops on defense when they had to against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Seattle’s defense doesn’t appear to be in as bad of shape as they looked in the first month of the season, but I have a clear vision of the future of the offense:
The tackles are set, the wide receivers can keep the ship moving in the next couple of seasons, the tight ends are good, the running back is awesome, and I’m not that worried about the offensive line. If an excellent center prospect emerges in the next five months, then maybe that’s more of a consideration with Seattle’s first second round pick—Austin Blythe ain’t the guy—but there’s nobody to get excited about yet. Same for the guards.
The ONLY big draft question I have on offense is “Should the Seahawks pick a quarterback?” You know my answer is “Maybe, let’s see how the board falls.” But one thing that the Seahawks will have no qualms about is being “too loaded” at edge rusher.
Verse started his college career at Albany in 2019, in which he redshirted. Verse had four sacks during a shortened 2020 campaign, then 14.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for a loss in 2021. After transferring to Florida State this year as one of the top FCS players, Verse’s draft stock has skyrocketed: 6.5 sacks, 13 TFL in nine games, and the top pass rush win rate in the ACC.
Give Uchenna Nwosu a contract extension in 2023, then add Verse to a group with him, Boye Mafe, and probably Darrell Taylor. Seattle’s odds of finding a premier pass rusher out of that unit would be relatively high.
Pick 54, Seahawks - QB Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina
So, sue me! Send me to prison, if you need to. The Seahawks should draft Grayson McCall.
McCall is a tall, right-handed Tua Tagovailoa. The reason he’s probably not going to be drafted as high as Tua is based mostly on his limited offensive scheme history (he’s been in a triple option offense his entire career, including high school), which made him a two-star prospect (that hasn’t stopped many Hall of Fame quarterbacks from being who they became) and people will question if he faced good enough competition. Whatever that means!
It’s not as though McCall is the only quarterback in the country who doesn’t play at a Power 5 program. There are many dozens of those and none of them come close to a resume like McCall’s. He’s 6’3, he moves well, he has thrown seven interceptions on 739 attempts because he loves protecting the football (Pete Carroll’s check list will be overwhelmed), but he’s still throwing the ball all over the field. He loves to play in an offense that wants to run the football and he’d be a dynamic partner with Kenneth Walker III in an option offense. His accuracy is at least as good as Tua’s. Also like Tua, he doesn’t have an arm strong enough for throwing the ball 40-50 yards downfield, but I’d say he’s probably got a higher ceiling in that regard.
I’M COMFORTABLE WITH GRAYSON MCCALL GOING IN THE TOP-5! But if the NFL is going to let him drop to day two—or even day three—then by all means, take the value.
This move gives the Seahawks an heir apparent at quarterback with one or two years to get him integrated into Seattle’s offense and used to NFL defenses that will give him a much greater challenge than what he’s faced in college. It’s not just the physical and football attributes that draws me to McCall though, it’s work ethic and competitiveness that have driven him towards being the best quarterback in the country who nobody talks about and that’s what makes me believe in him as a prospect.
If the Seahawks can get three defensive starters before the QBOTF, that also fits Pete’s strategy to a tee.