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Why the Seahawks will trade down in the 2022 NFL Draft
Seaside Joe 1140: A weak draft class means that Seattle may need to consider these trade down scenarios
Something that’s been lost in the madness of 2022 NFL Draft season is the possibility that this class is one of the worst in recent history. This is not highly advertised for at least two reasons:
We’re living in a time when healthy, important criticism could be misconstrued as negative and/or damaging in an effort to “protect” the subject from the evaluation.
If you think about the NFL Draft as a Showtime boxing event, then everyone who covers the NFL draft is Don King. “This prospect is the GREATEST OF ALL-TIME!”
When I say that the 2022 NFL Draft class is weak, I’m not being negative, I’m being realistic. In the same way that every single NFL writer and analyst has no qualms about saying that the Jacksonville Jaguars are a bad team, or that Urban Meyer doesn’t deserve to work in the league, or that Andy Dalton and Jared Goff are not quarterbacks worthy of starting, so too am I giving a reasonable point of view based on relative talent.
If the Seahawks had the number nine pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, they could have chosen between Patrick Surtain II, DeVonta Smith, Micah Parsons, Rashawn Slater, and Mac Jones. Justin Fields was there too. With the exception of Jaycee Horn missing most of the season, the four position players taken ahead of Surtain (Kyle Pitts, Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, Penei Sewell) were all stars during their rookie campaigns.
Parsons, Slater, and Jones all made the Pro Bowl, while Parsons could have won Defensive Player of the Year and Slater may have actually been the best left tackle in football last season.
You won’t see a similar performance out of the 2022 class this year and so relatively speaking, we know that there is a drop-off from 2021. On the other side of this draft is the 2023 edition and the common theme there is that teams are stockpiling extra first rounders in order to prepare for what could be the best class of the next decade.
As one anonymous NFL exec told The Athletic, the Giants should be trying to add a future pick for next year instead of having two top-10 picks this year:
“Given their quarterback situation, it would be malpractice for them not to try to trade one of those early picks to get a first-rounder next year, unless they think they are going to be in the veteran quarterback world,” the executive told The Athletic. “Philly already has the extra one next year — they are a year ahead of New York with a better team.”
Why is the 2022 NFL Draft class underwhelming?
The reasons are many and one that I think should be underlined is that the COVID-19 pandemic caused the NCAA to adjust some of their major rules, including one that allowed an extra year of eligibility to every college player in 2021. This makes for a deeper class but it makes sense that any prospect who was given an early draft grade last year would’ve still entered the draft then. For seniors who were getting maybe a fifth or sixth chance to prove themselves as NFL prospects, the probability that it would result into becoming a top-ranked prospect was low to begin with.
Another reason is that these classes just happen sometimes. Every 10 years, you have to have a 10th-ranked NFL Draft class, right? That’s as basic as it gets. It’s been hard to watch the 2013 draft class go through so many trials and tribulations over the last decade… many of which tribulated with the Seahawks at one point. (Luke Joeckel, Dion Jordan, Ezekiel Ansah, Barkevious Mingo, Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker, Sheldon Richardson…)
The top-24 picks of the 2013 NFL Draft combined to reach 13 career Pro Bowls. Eight of those 13 went to three different offensive linemen (Kyle Long, Lane Johnson, Eric Fisher) and the other five went to four defensive players and Tyler Eifert.
One common thread between what’s missing in the 2013 and 2022 draft classes and abundant in the 2021 and 2023 draft classes is of course the quarterback position.
Last year, Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson represented a classic 1-2 duo at the top, which helped push prospects like Pitt, Chase, Parsons, and Slater down two pegs in the draft. The 49ers then reached for Trey Lance, pushing everyone else down three pegs. Then, in my opinion, the Bears reached for Justin Fields at 11 and pushed Parsons, Slater, and Alijah Vera-Tucker down another notch.
If Lawrence, Wilson, and Lance aren’t in the draft, I believe you’re seeing Fields go number one and Jones slides into the top-six. If Fields and Jones were in this draft class, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them go 1-2. If Fields, Jones, Malik Willis, Kenny Pickett, and Desmond Ridder were in next year’s draft, I don’t think any of them would go in the first round.
Because next year’s quarterbacks are so strong and this year’s, as pretty much every single NFL analyst has directly and indirectly said, are not.
The 2013 draft featured only one first round quarterback and E.J. Manuel was still considered by many to be the biggest reach of the day. The 2014 class had a similar issue, with Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, and Teddy Bridgewater as the only first rounders. Though the class has a few superstars (Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack, Odell Beckham Jr, Zack Martin), most of those teams in the first round got a disappointing return on investment.
If this draft class had a single quarterback prospect worthy the top selection, the Jaguars would’ve already made the trade and handed over the clock by now. Jacksonville GM Trent Baalke is reportedly hot to trade down, according to SI’s Albert Breer, but are teams really motivated to move up for Aidan Hutchinson?
That’s another issue with this draft: There’s no Myles Garrett or Penei Sewell or Ja’Marr Chase in this draft either. Though Sewell and Chase didn’t go number one last year, I firmly believe that the Jags would almost have to pick the tackle and might even go against tradition and take the receiver. There are reports that Jacksonville is in love with Drake London and he’s not close to the prospect that Chase was in 2021.
Hutchinson didn’t even get into the first overall conversation until December and he’s never had a firm grip on it despite the lack of serious competition. It seems the greatest threat at this point is Travon Walker, a player who wasn’t even considered by PFF to be a top-11 player on his own defense. That may be why the Jaguars aren’t the only team in the top-10 that reportedly wants to trade down.
We’ve heard the same reports about the Lions at two, the Texans at three, the Jets at four or 10, the Giants at five or seven, the Panthers at six, the Falcons at eight, and the Seahawks at nine… Oops, that’s literally every team in the top-10.
Nobody appears to want to trade up. That’s not the sign of a strong draft class. But whatever strengths and blue chip prospects at premium positions this class does have, the Seahawks unfortunately appear to be on the outside looking in.
I believe Seattle’s greatest need in this draft is an edge rusher but Hutchinson, Walker, and Thibodeaux should all be off the board in the top-eight. The next-greatest need is offensive tackle, but Evan Neal, Ikem Ekwonu, and Charles Cross could also be plucked from the class before the Seahawks are on the clock. Even if Pete Carroll decided that this would be the year to take a cornerback early, because there aren’t any premium QB prospects, you could still fit Sauce Gardner and Derek Stingley into the top-eight and leave Seattle’s big board dry at pick nine.
That leaves Jermaine Johnson, Trevor Penning, Tyler Linderbaum, Devonte Wyatt, Bernhard Raimann… essentially leaving the Seahawks with prospects who might not grade out with significantly higher marks than the players who will be picked in the teens and twenties. Hence: Trade down.
I know that some people are as high on Johnson as they are on the rest of the edge players, perhaps even ranking him above Walker and Thibodeaux. But maybe that only pushes Cross or Stingley to the Seahawks, and perhaps Seattle doesn’t have those players rated as high as some in the media do for their scheme needs. Cross didn’t do any run blocking in college—he probably would need to teach Pete about the air raid. Stingley uses one of those grabber things to reach Pringles in the cupboard.
The Seahawks had no choice in what first round pick they’d get for Russell Wilson. Once the Broncos had the best offer for Russell Wilson, and once Wilson informed Seattle that’s the team he would waive his no trade clause for, then essentially the Seahawks just got the ninth pick because that’s what pick Denver owned. It seems like it also happens to be the NEXUS of the first round, falling off from blue chippers to “the huddled masses” UNLESS a team reaches on Malik Willis and/or Kenny Pickett, unless one or two teams decide to pick a top-10 wide receiver, unless Jordan Davis, Kyle Hamilton, or Devin Lloyd sneak into the top one-fourth of the draft.
That’s what the Seahawks need to be rooting for if they want one of their premium tackle or edge prospects. If there isn’t one on the board, then Seattle will take everything it can possible take to move down. There are problems in that scenario too, like: Will anyone want to trade up?
If a team falls in love with a QB
Could Commanders jump from 11 to 9 in order to block another team from trading over them to take a QB? Would Commanders be interested in leapfrogging the Jets at 10 in order to pick the top WR in the draft?
The Texans hold picks 13, 37, 68, 80, 107, 108 in this year’s draft, plus multiple picks in the first and third round of the 2023 draft… if Houston passes on a QB at pick three, would they want to slide up for someone at pick nine?
Do the Eagles (15, 18) or Saints (16, 19) want to be the first team to move up for a QB? Or a WR?
The Steelers could jump all of these teams if they didn’t think they’d be in a position to draft a QB next year anyway, and it would probably cost them a 2023 first round pick to move up from 20 to nine.
Speaking of which, Seattle could bank a future first round pick if they were willing to drop all the way to the 20s: the Packers hold picks 22 and 28, the Chiefs hold picks 29 and 30, and both could be in the position to draft the first WR off the board if they move that far up. KC has shown a willingness to move up that far in the recent past (Patrick Mahomes) but would they do it for a receiver?
Which trade options sound most appealing to you?