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Zach Wilson to Aidan Hutchinson: The top rookie, 2nd-year players on Seahawks 2022 schedule
Seaside Joe 1218: Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Aidan Hutchinson, Kayvon Thibodeaux top list of the best young players on Seahawks schedule
It may be early July, but there’s no need to lie, pander, cheat, scam, manipulate, or spread rumors in order to create original NFL content about the Seattle Seahawks. One thing I’ve learned from the Seaside Joe community over the past two months is that you are hardly exhausted by content that covers the 2022 schedule.
The month-by-month previews drew a ton of comments by Seasiders and excitement over the season to come should far outweigh analysis about Russell Wilson or rumors about former offensive coordinators or hypothesizing veteran quarterbacks who will never be Seahawks.
This is Rookie Month at Seaside Joe and I will be focusing on some of the rookies who could be facing off against Seattle next season. But a lot of the Seahawks’ opponents actually did not have first round picks this year, including the 49ers, Rams, Cardinals, Broncos (obviously), Buccaneers, and Raiders.
So I’m expanding to also include players who were taken in the 2021 NFL Draft. The names are determined by:
Who I felt like including
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Players: CB Patrick Surtain II, RB Javonte Williams, LB Nik Bonitto, TE Greg Dulcich
There should be unreasonable hype over Surtain vs. DK Metcalf on Monday Night Football and I’m all for it. Javonte Williams could break out into being a star next season and will open his second year on primetime.
San Francisco 49ers
Players: QB Trey Lance, RB Elijah Mitchell, RB Trey Sermon, DE Drake Jackson
I’m more of a believer in Trey Lance than I am a skeptic. Why? This first year, he really doesn’t need to do much more than run around a lot and complete Kyle Shanahan’s high-percentage passing plays. That’s one way that players like Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen excelled early in their careers recently, and Shanahan saw it first hand with Robert Griffin III in 2012. The 49ers saw it that same year with Colin Kaepernick. Not all of these players could pass the ball all that well.
Compared to Jimmy Garoppolo, Lance seems like an all-around upgrade even before he makes his next NFL start.
Players: WR Drake London, Edge Arnold Ebiketie, LB Troy Andersen, QB Desmond Ridder, TE Kyle Pitts, S Richie Grant
I just can’t picture a world in which the Falcons aren’t terrible next season.
Players: RT Penei Sewell, WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, NT Alim McNeill, DE Aidan Hutchinson, WR Jameson Williams, DE Josh Paschal
Charles Cross vs Aidan Hutchinson?
The Lions hired GM Brad Holmes in 2021 and I can’t say I would have done his two drafts any differently than what he’s up to. Jameson Williams was my favorite receiver in the 2022 class, if not my favorite from the last two drafts combined.
New Orleans Saints
Players: WR Chris Olave, OT Trevor Penning, CB Paulson Adebo, DE Payton Turner
Though they seem set for good defense and a schedule with some easy games, perhaps the Saints are a dark horse candidate to be picking in the top-three next year. And if New Orleans could draft Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud, would that lure Sean Payton back to the Saints in 2023?
Players: TE Trey McBride, CB Marco Wilson, WR Rondale Moore, LB Zaven Collins
Their first round picks were a bit surprising in 2020 and 2021, so maybe that’s what prompted the Cardinals to trade their first rounder for Hollywood Brown this time around. Rondale Moore made some unreal grabs during last offseason/camp/preseason/season but can he be a complete player who demands to be on the field for every snap?
Players: G Zion Johnson, OT Rashawn Slater, CB Asante Samuel, Jr, WR Josh Palmer
There were some Seahawks fans pleading for Zion Johnson. Which is fine and understandable, he’s a great guard prospect. But Charles Cross plays a way more important position. The Chargers needn’t worry about left tackle because they have Slater, potentially the NFL’s best left tackle over the next five years.
New York Giants
Players: WR Kadarius Toney, OLB Azeez Ojulari, OT Evan Neal, Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux, WR Wan’Dale Robinson
I may never run out of young wide receivers to praise. But Toney was perhaps the most exciting receiver prospect in 2021, then conspicuous absences and falling out of favor with the previous regime made him an afterthought who scored 0 touchdowns as a rookie.
The Brian Daboll offense could unlock something in him.
Getting Neal and Thibodeaux in the same draft is probably at least as good as the Lions getting Hutchinson and Williams. Quite a haul, potentially, but the Giants will only go as far as Daniel Jones takes them.
Players: DE Logan Hall, RB Rachaad White, TE Cade Otton, CB Zyon McCollum, DE Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, QB Kyle Trask
If you’re facing the Bucs, it’s not the young guys you’re worried about. Huskies fans know Tryon-Shoyinka (and Otton), a potential breakout star next season and a good test for Seattle’s equally young tackles.
Players: RT Alex Leatherwood, S Trevon Moehrig, CB Nate Hobbs
For anyone out there today obsessing over a dream job, be careful what you wish for. Mike Mayock got his dream job and his legacy will be a short stint with the Raiders with practically nothing to add to his resume other than the experience. Las Vegas was the worst drafting NFL team during the Jon Gruden/Mayock era and that may have been the final straw towards trading a first and a second for the right to sign Davante Adams.
Will it go better than trading for Antonio Brown?
Players: ILB Ernest Jones, CB Robert Rochell, G Logan Bruss
Another team that won’t be reliant on young players because they don’t have many young players worthy of starting roles. That’s not how the Rams have operated anyway over the last five years and it has helped them reach two Super Bowls. Other than Cooper Kupp, John Johnson to an extent, rookies have never shined under Sean McVay.
It’s possible that none of these players are starting in Week 1 either.
Players: OT Ikem Ekwonu, QB Matt Corral, CB Jaycee Horn, WR Terrace Marshall, OT Brady Christensen
Other than Kenyan Green and the Texans, the Seahawks will face four of the top-five offensive lineman (other than Cross, obviously) to be drafted this year. Did Seattle nab the best of them? Ekwonu plays with a mean streak and is very talented, but is he a tackle?
Players: CB Trent McDuffie, DE George Karlaftis, WR Skyy Moore, LB Leo Chenal, C Creed Humphrey, LB Nick Bolton
Of all the veteran teams expected to compete for the Super Bowl, the Chiefs might have the most in terms of incoming young talent. Humphrey was up there with the best centers in the NFL last year. Moore is another of those receivers that is hard to not root for because of how exciting he was at the college level.
Players: QB Zach Wilson, CB Sauce Gardner, WR Garrett Wilson, Edge Jermaine Johnson, RB Breece Hall, RB Michael Carter, G Alijah Vera-Tucker, WR Elijah Moore, CB Brandin Echols
I know it sounds “early” to be calling the Jets’ playoff appearance, even among those who are as high on their last two drafts as I have been. But I think of it like this: There are special golfers. There are special tennis players. There are special swimmers. Not just great, but special.
You don’t just expect them to compete to win tournaments, you think of them as special because they compete and win tournaments early in their careers.
There are also special quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, Josh Allen, Russell Wilson, and with hindsight it’s not difficult to see why they were so good and successful early in their careers. Some of them were really bad during their rookie seasons. The Manning brothers, for example. I think Zach Wilson is that special and it’s an added bonus that the Jets also have the most stacked list of any team on this schedule.
With veteran leaders and potential Head Coach of the Year Robert Saleh also in the meetings, it’s not a stretch for me to pick the Jets to reach the playoffs.