What Seahawks top-30 visits say about their 2022 draft plans
Seaside Joe 1144: Seattle gives a glimpse at how they view their options
Teams are allowed 30 pre-draft “visits” before the main event and those concluded this week. Not all of the Seattle Seahawks official visits are known, but many are. Here’s what I think we can learn from what we’ve heard.
The Seahawks are assessing late round options at safety
Percy Butler, S, Louisiana Lafayette (13th on Dane Brugler’s safety rankings)
Butler is entering the NFL Draft after his redshirt junior season and as an aside, I do like that decision. What more could Butler do with another season at Louisiana other than get one year older? He’s a high school track athlete whose sole reason for getting NFL consideration is his outstanding physical traits and the opportunity to mold him into a special football player.
Dane Brugler gave Butler a fifth round grade in his draft guide for The Athletic, ranking him between Verone McKinley and Yusuf Corker among the safeties. Butler is 6’, 194 lbs, and his 4.36 40-yard dash was the second-fastest among safeties behind Maryland’s Nick Cross. Only Lewis Cine had a faster 10-yard split than Butler’s 1.46. If the Seahawks are getting butterflies for Butler, Pete Carroll probably has the wherewithal to draft him in round three…even if everyone else has him in round five.
Butler’s Louisiana college bio officially lists him with a “monster” campaign in 2021, totaling 61 tackles, six for a loss, one interceptions, four pass breakups, and a blocked kick. Still, the value teams are looking for with Butler is the speed, the 35” vertical, the 123” broad jump, and the physical package. Brugler notes that he “covers a lot of ground” and most of his weaknesses really have more to do with his slender frame and concerns of durability at the NFL level.
He played in man and zone scheme under defensive coordinator Patrick Toney and was a “standout” on special teams for all four seasons. If the Seahawks do draft Percy Butler in the fifth round, it would make all the sense in the world. And that would be more ideal than taking him before the fifth round.
Deontai Williams, S, Nebraska (158th among S)
Williams never took the leap in college that many had expected him to after being the second-ranked safety in the 2018 class, but he did intercept four passes in only eight games last season. Not invited to the combine like he was hoping for, Williams ran a 4.48 at his pro day, weighing 10 lbs heavier than his playing weight in 2021. Then that same week, his son was born.
Is the NFL Draft his next life milestone?
Can he translate his ballhawking skills to the next level, because that’s what Pete would be looking to add to his defense. He’s been projected as a strong safety with advanced leadership qualities:
The two plays that stand out the most was when he wasn’t matched up with a receiver in coverage. The first play was when Bootle was beat deep on an early touchdown where Williams had his eyes underneath and didn’t get good depth. The other play was the infamous targeting call that led to Williams being ejected from the game. On that play Williams showed what he’s best at in coverage as he read Jaxon Smith-Njigba coming across the field and was able to accelerate forward to lay a body shot to dislodge the ball. Williams has the ability to react to plays in front of him, but where he struggles is moving back or laterally to cover ground.
Rodney Thomas, S, Yale (158th among LB)
How do you go from a no-star recruit out of high school, a backup at Yale, a transition from linebacker to safety, a missed 2020 campaign because of COVID, to visiting with the Seahawks in 2022? Despite there being over 150 linebackers ranked ahead of Thomas on Brugler’s big board, almost none of them ran a 4.5 with a 1.56 10-yard split, a 41” vertical, and a 127” broad jump. Thomas would’ve ranked FIRST among safeties at the combine in vertical jump and short shuttle, fifth in broad jump.
Thomas (6’1, 196 lbs) had 50 tackles, two interceptions, and 11 pass breakups for Yale in 2021, his first season as a safety. I can’t emphasize enough how unique it is to run a 4.5 at 196 lbs, let alone Thomas’s other measurements. The only other “sleeper” linebackers in this class who come close are UTSA’s Charles Wiley (Brugler’s 48th linebacker), NC State’s Vi Jones (90th), and FAU’s Caliph Brice (101st).
You will find more speed among the safeties, but not that much more and none of them have a 41” vertical.
Here are more visits, I’ll cover another group soon. Which of these three safeties would you prefer?
Boye Mafe, DE, Minnesota
Daniel Hardy, DE, Montana State
Micheal Clemons, DE/LB, Texas A&M
Cameron Goode, LB, California
Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
Samori Toure, WR, Nebraska
Dareke Young, WR, Lenoir Rhyne
Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Kalon Barnes, CB, Baylor
Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, Nebraska
Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State
Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
Armani Rogers, TE, Ohio
Cole Strange, G/C, Chattanooga