Not just QBs: Seahawks getting looks at 'Other Guys' at Alabama, Ohio State
Safeties, tackles, running backs, and more! Seaside Joe 1493
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Now onto Seaside Joe 1493: Who are those draft prospects at these “QB schools” who are not the QBs?
The Seattle Seahawks attended the pro days at Alabama, Ohio State, Kentucky, and Florida, getting highly-publicized photo ops with the top-four ranked quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft. There’s no chance that they will pick a quarterback ahead of the Carolina Panthers; it is unlikely that the Seahawks will make a trade with the Houston Texans for number two; and if the Cardinals do trade down from #3, it seems improbable that they will make that deal with Seattle.
So what are we really talking about with the Seahawks pro day QB tour? Unless Seattle has heard from the Texans that they could buy the pick from them depending on who is left on the board after the Panthers, Seattle knows that they should be taking a look at other prospects at Alabama and Ohio State while they’re there.
Realistically: The Seahawks could have avoided every single pro day and not changed their draft plans one iota. These plans, especially in the first round, have been in the works for years. NFL scouts and executives are already looking at current high school prospects to think about how they could help their franchises in 2026 and beyond. Somewhere, someone has a “Blarch for Arch” Manning campaign in the early stages of development three years down the line.
But while these teams, including Seattle, have watch a lot of tape on Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis, Hendon Hooker, and what limited footage we have from Anthony Richardson, they might as well keep their eyes on the supporting cast and talent around them. As I noted the other day, Georgia prospects like defensive tackle Jalen Carter and edge rusher Nolan Smith have played nine games against those five quarterbacks in the last two years alone.
That’s a lot of time to watch two first round prospects when you’re not watching them!
To keep going down that line of, “Who else is on film?” with these prospects, knowing that the Seahawks are very unlikely to draft Young and Stroud at least, let’s familiarize ourselves with who else is on film.
OLB Will Anderson
It’s very easy to assume that Seattle was at least as happy to get more time with “The Terminator” as they were to meet up with Young at Alabama’s pro day: Anderson is my top-ranked prospect for the Seahawks big board.
I’m dreaming of the Titans or Raiders trading up with the Cardinals for the third overall pick because it virtually guarantees that the top-three picks will be quarterbacks. That’s going to be near a ‘best case scenario’ for Seattle and opens the door for Anderson to fall to #5 in the draft. If the biggest criticism of Anderson is that “He’s probably not going to be as good as Von Miller” then that’s fine: He will be the best outside linebacker prospect that the Seahawks have had since…Well, I hate to say Aaron Curry now, but that’s probably the answer.
Let’s just say he has the potential to be the best young defensive player that Seattle has drafted since Earl Thomas.
DB Brian Branch
The Seahawks rescinded the restricted free agent tender from Ryan Neal, making him a free agent who is unlikely to return to Seattle now. That comes after signing Julian Love, clearly the player who Pete Carroll is more intrigued by as a third “safety” with Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams. It would seem that Seattle couldn’t be more “set” at safety than they already but I don’t think that’s the case.
We don’t know when Adams will return or how long he will play when he does or how good he will be at that point. The team has some serious financial considerations to make in 2024 at the safety position. We haven’t seen Love play for the Seahawks yet. Pete is a former safety, a former safeties coach, he values safety more than any other head coach in the NFL…
Last December, Todd McShay had Branch going to Seattle with their other first round pick and that could still turn out to be an option for the Seahawks.
Branch seems to be one-of-one at his position group this year—this is not to say that there won’t be really good safety prospects on days two and three, as I think that there DEFINITELY are—only that Branch is the only guy who seems to be getting first round attention.
It could just be that Branch is the guy that analysts feel can start on a defense in Week 1 and hold his own in the slot, against the run, and deep. If Seattle added Branch to a defensive backs group with Adams, Diggs, and Love, it gives the Seahawks the freedom to trade or release Adams in 2024 with $9.4 million in savings…or Diggs with $11 million in savings.
Therefore, it’s not just how cheap Branch would be relative to another player at his position, but how valuable Branch is if he allows the Seahawks to part with one of the most expensive players at the position.
However, it’s possible Seattle could do the same thing by taking a safety on day two or day three. That brings us to another Alabama player that the Seahawks are getting a closer look at.
S Jordan Battle
Fox’s Joel Klatt named Battle as his “Draft Steal” among all the defensive backs: “Great instincts, highly intelligent, can play centerfield, understands how to get after the ball, his intelligence will make him productive early in his career. He’s going to know the system immediately and will be able to teach veteran players about the system.”
Battle doesn’t get first round attention because he won’t have those elite traits like Branch, but when you think about how the Seahawks had interest in Sauce Gardner at Cincinnati and then drafted teammate Coby Bryant much later…Perhaps Seattle won’t take Branch but will consider Battle if he’s still on the board at pick #83, which he might be.
RB Jahmyr Gibbs
The question that Seahawks must ask when thinking of Seattle taking a running back this year—which I believe they will, maybe as early as pick 52 would be my guess—is “Does he complement Ken Walker III?” The Seahawks need a pass catcher, a pass blocker, a third down weapon but ideally one who could still carry the ball and make somebody miss. I know that we’ve all become obsessed with Bijan Robinson and then you turn your attention to Gibbs because he’s the consensus RB2…I think Seattle’s going to have five, six, seven+ running backs in this draft who they’d be happy to come away with.
With what else the Seahawks need to accomplish in this draft, I think they pass on Robinson and Gibbs and look for values who could be upgrades for the departed Travis Homer and the 2024 free agent DeeJay Dallas.
LB Henry To’oto’o
When you look at Seattle’s past picks at linebacker, To’oto’o might come in as “close enough” but he may not quite hit the right thresholds. At the combine, he as 227 lbs, which is a little light, but then his 4.62 40-yard dash is a little slow. Shaquem Griffen came in at 227, but was faster (I dispute the official time, but Griffen does possess speed).
Jordyn Brooks was 240 and ran a 4.54. Cody Barton was 237 and ran a 4.64. That’s why I say the difference may seem small on paper, maybe it’s “close enough” but perhaps only in the fifth round or later. To’oto’o could have a long NFL career, teams don’t talk about him like a difference maker though and he might have closer to that Ben Burr-Kirven outlook than anything else.
CB Eli Ricks
A former five-star recruit who has the arm length (32.5”) but disappointing college career (transferred from LSU, played just 23 games in three years) could make him a day three project more than anything else and yet he lacks the speed you’d want in a bigger corner. This is not Tariq Woolen 2.0 and he could last a lot longer on the board than people expect just because “Eli Ricks” is a known name around prospect circles. Are teams really excited about the actual prospect as compared to players who have proven more or have greater athleticism?
DE Byron Young (Not Tennessee’s Byron Young)
Young had 5.5 tackles for a loss and four sacks last year. He is projected as a day three prospect.
OL Tyler Steen/OL Emil Ekiyor
We know how Pete feels about DL-to-OL converts and Steen fits in there: A former defensive tackle at Vanderbilt in 2018 who finished 2022 as an All-SEC left tackle at Alabama. He’s 6’6, 321 lbs with over 32” arms and moderately good athleticism. Maybe this is where Seattle could get better depth by picking a tackle on day three.
Ekiyor has spent the last three seasons starting at guard for an elite SEC team, which surely helps his case as a potential 4th-5th round prospect who has the size and technique to fight for a role in the NFL.
There are even more Alabama prospects who will make NFL rosters in some capacity, but let’s move on because let’s move on.
I’m going to start a new weekly series called “What we learned about football this week” in which I will ask the readers to post comments of something you read, watched, listened to, found out etc. about football that you wouldn’t mind sharing with the rest of us. There’s SO MUCH information out there, we should be sharing it with one another, and this could be especially true of the draft. So start thinking of things that you might want to share with the class and I’ll get that series started soon…If you have anything to add on any of today’s prospects, please add in the comments now!
WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
You might read or hear in other places that the 2023 receiver class isn’t very good and maybe that will turn out to be the case. The biggest marks against Smith-Njigba are that he doesn’t have elite straightline speed and he only played on season in college: 10 catches in 2020 and five catches in 2022.
In the middle: 95 catches for 1,606 yards in 2021 when he was better than Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave.
According to one report I heard, Ohio State receivers coach Brian Hartline (now the OC) essentially talked Jameson Williams (a top-12 pick in 2022) into transferring to Alabama because JSN was the most natural slot receiver he had ever seen. In two years, we could be talking about Smith-Njigba as one of the biggest reaches or as one of the biggest steals and like we do with Justin Jefferson (not a comp, just a guy who shouldn’t have gone 21st) wondering, “How the hell did NFL teams get the evaluation so wrong?”
LT Paris Johnson Jr.
RT Dawand Jones
It would be weird if the Seahawks picked Paris. It wouldn’t be weird if they picked Dawand and they did bring him in for a visit.
As I wrote on Sunday, drafting a right tackle could make sense, allowing Abe Lucas to move inside to guard and getting a few positions/future contract situations settled with that one move. Jones is a massive player (6’8, 374 lbs) and paired with Lucas could give Seattle and elite right side. The Seahawks had a meeting with Trent Brown last offseason, Jones’s closest pro comp.
EDGE Zach Harrison
The Seahawks picked teammate Tyreke Smith in the fifth round last year. Surely they took a long look at Harrison too. Like Eli Ricks at Alabama, one of these guys who college football folks would carry along a tradition of first round excellence at a certain position (Harrison was a five-star recruit following the likes of Nick Bosa, Chase Young, etc.) but didn’t live up to the hype. Maybe doesn’t go that far off from where Smith went in 2022.
C Luke Wypler
It would be more like Pete to draft a center no earlier than the third round. Undersized, Wypler could be a name that pops up around then if he doesn’t go in the top-50.
G O’Cyrus Torrence
A HUGE guard (6’5, 330 lbs, 34” arms, 11” hands) who transferred from Louisiana to Florida when his head coach was hired by the Gators. A mark in his favor: No penalties last season. Seattle could use this. I’ll just say this again: If the Seahawks draft an interior offensive lineman in the first round, they should believe he has All-Pro potential. It should be treated no different than picking Bijan Robinson or any running back.
If they feel that way about Torrence, great. If they don’t, what else is available? There might not be a single “true” interior offensive lineman picked in the first round this year.
DT Gervon Dexter
As a recruit, Dexter was rated as highly as Will Anderson or Jalen Carter. He didn’t live up to the stars though. Good athleticism but Lance Zierlein describes him as “slow off the snap” and not a good pass rusher. If a player’s recruiting popularity gets him drafted earlier than his actual draft profile, I say that’s where Seattle has to walk away and move on. They don’t tend to “over-draft” players like that.
LB Ventrell Miller
If the Seahawks are thinking of filling linebacker roles with day three/special teams players, Miller could be one of their top targets. Described as “two-down LB” who lacks athleticism, Miller’s experience and effort could make him attractive to Pete if he’s on the board in the sixth round.
DL Brenton Cox
A defensive player who enrolled at Georgia has character concerns? Not Jalen Carter, you say? Cox was an elite recruit in 2018 who transferred to Florida but was eventually dismissed from the team by BOTH schools. Production (23 TFL, 10 sacks in 21 games over last two years) is good, athleticism (4.82, 33” vertical at 250 lbs with 33” arms) is a little weak, but major red flags (that unlike Carter, actually got him kicked off of not one, but two football teams) are why Cox might not even be drafted. Feels like a player who the Seahawks could be in contact with as a low-risk, high-reward, maybe on the practice squad.
RB Chris Rodriguez
“Will Levis had no help” is no lie. I just don’t think it’s enough to justify a first round pick on him. Kentucky doesn’t have much NFL talent, with Rodriguez as one of the few primed to make the jump: He had 1,378 rushing yards and 10 TDs in 2021, but 904/5.2 YPC in 2022 over eight games. He’s got the character, leadership, and experience, but lacks the athleticism, size, burst…potentially a seventh round pick.
CB Carrington Valentine
I’ve heard some “sleeper” talk.
WR Jalin Hyatt
WR Cedric Tillman
Seattle’s full front office/staff didn’t attend Hendon Hooker’s pro day, but let’s say that they’ve watched a lot of film anyway. There are some people very high on Hyatt, but his speed didn’t go as off-the-charts (4.4 at 176 lbs) at the combine as expected. He did have a 40” vert and an 11’3 broad jump, however, both elite. Called a “DeSean Jackson” type, is Hyatt the type of WR that the Seahawks need to add to Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf?
Tillman is much bigger (6’3, 213 lbs) with a little less speed (4.54) but a 1.53 10-yard split puts him just a hair behind Hyatt. Good production, compared to Michael Pittman (almost a first round pick) and maybe for that reason could end up as a good mid-day two value for some team.
DE Byron Young (Tennessee’s Byron Young)
Remarkable that Mel Kiper had the Seahawks taking Young with their second pick in his first mock draft. Maybe more remarkable that everybody—as usual—chose to forget that he did that and moved on. Young just turned 25, so an older prospect, who is 6’2, 250 lbs, 32” arms, and 4.43 40-yard dash. Had 23.5 TFL and 12.5 sacks in the last two years.
RT Darnell Wright
Finally, back to another potential right tackle pick. If Seattle would have interesting in Dawand Jones, why not Darnell Wright? A former top-10 recruit in 2019, Wright has the size and athleticism to become one of the top right tackles in the NFL and he has shown that on the field, which is why he’s a safer bet even though he hasn’t proven to be great yet. His comparison is D.J. Fluker, who coincidentally worked out for teams recently and is looking to make an NFL comeback…with the Seahawks reportedly showing interest.
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