For once this offseason, the NFL had a soap opera of a day that didn’t feature the Seahawks — not even in a cameo appearance, let alone a starring role.
Instead, while the NFL draft kicked off amid the stunning rumors of Aaron Rodgers wanting out of Green Bay, the Seahawks, as expected, did nothing other than signing veteran defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, a move already in the works, and watched as the first round went on without them.
That’s because Seattle entered the draft with just three picks, and none until 56 in the second round, due to four trades the team made over the last 12 months. That included trading first- and third-round picks in the 2021 draft to the Jets in exchange for safety Jamal Adams last July.
The Jets on Thursday traded both of those picks to the Vikings in a deal to move up from 23 to 14 in order to take USC guard Alijah Vera-Tucker. The Vikings used the 23rd pick to take left tackle Christian Darrisaw of Virginia Tech.
The Seahawks, meanwhile, will for now be more than content with Adams and hoping to get some good players on the final two days, having apparently never been tempted to try to land a first-rounder somehow this year.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider said Wednesday that one reason the team made the Adams trade is that they felt this draft would be more unpredictable than ever due to shortened seasons in 2020 due to COVID-19, the canceling of the NFL combine and other related factors that make evaluating players trickier than ever.
Some NFL teams are thought to have full, reliable medical evaluations on as few as 150 players, but 259 will be selected by the time the draft ends Saturday.
“We had to ask ourselves what kind of questions are we going to have answered by the time we get to next spring?’’ Schneider said Wednesday. “What’s that going to look like? And things just felt too hazy.’’
Seattle, though, also had to include next year’s first-round pick in the deal, as well, when things may not be quite as hazy. But by then, the Seahawks hope Adams — who is still just 25 — will be happily under contract for the long term and the pick Seattle has to give the Jets will be in the mid-20s or lower.
Still, the Seahawks will hope to get some impact players with the three picks they have — No. 56 on Friday and 129 in the fourth round and 250 in the seventh on Saturday.
And while the easy prediction is that the Seahawks will try to trade down to acquire more, there’s no guarantee. Seattle could be content to pick three players, then fill out the roster with undrafted free agents in a year when some analysts say it’s hard to tell much difference between a fourth- and a seventh-rounder. If Seattle does make just three picks, it would be the fewest since the Jets also had just three in 2009. Seattle has never made fewer than five.
So who may Seattle be looking at with its first pick of this draft on Friday night?
Here are five names who remain available who might slip to Seattle’s spot:
Center Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma: Carroll said Wednesday that Ethan Pocic and Kyle Fuller will compete for the starting center spot. But both are on one-year deals, and the Seahawks could definitely look to add not only immediate competition but a long-term potential starter in the middle. Some thought Humphrey might sneak into the first round so he may not make it to 56. But if he does, Seattle might leap to take him, especially with the Rams picking behind them at 57 and also needing a center. A couple other centers who could be considered include Josh Meyers of Ohio State, Landon Dickerson of Alabama and Drew Dalman of Stanford.
Tackle Walker Little, Stanford: Little was the top recruit in the country in 2017 but played just 22 games at Stanford and only one since 2018, making his evaluation particularly tricky. But Seattle has always been intrigued by players with impressive high school pedigrees and might think Little worth a shot as a potential long-term answer on either side. Regardless, getting a tackle somewhere in the draft — Dillon Radunz of North Dakota State would also seem a no-brainer if he slips here — makes sense with both Duane Brown and Brandon Shell having just one year left on their contracts.
Receiver Rondale Moore, Purdue: Seattle’s only addition to the receiving corps this offseason was Darvin Kidsy in January, while both David Moore and Phillip Dorsett moved on in free agency. Seattle could be happy with Freddie Swain/John Ursua and others competing for the third receiver spot. Moore’s draft stock grew a little shakier when he measured at just 5-7 at his pro day. But he could be a good fit in the slot for the offense of new coordinator Shane Waldron. Also still available is Terrace Marshall of LSU, a 6-3, 200 pounder who also played a lot of slot, as well as Elijah Moore of Ole Miss and Dyami Brown of North Carolina, though each may be more likely to go near the top of the second round.
Cornerback Ifeatu Melinfonwu, Syracuse: The 6-2, 212 pounder has been a popular player to mock to the Seahawks for months as he well fits all of Seattle’s usual required characteristics for a cornerback, including arms of more than 32 inches (officially 32-¼.) It would break from precedent for Seattle to take a corner in the second round. The Seahawks have not taken a cornerback higher than Shaquill Griffin in the third in 2017 the Carroll/Schneider era, famously finding gems such as Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell in the fifth and sixth rounds, respectively. But while Seattle has five veteran cornerbacks for the outside spots, none are under contract beyond the 2021 season. Asante Samuel Jr. also remains available, but it’s hard to figure he slips to 56.
Defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike, Washington: The Seahawks have continued to add to the line throughout free agency, including signing Nkemdiche Thursday, and seem pretty set for 2021. Still, the loss of Jarran Reed could compel Seattle to look to beef up the interior of its defensive line, with veteran Al Woods obviously a short-term solution to play alongside Poona Ford this season. In fact, not a single defensive tackle was drafted Thursday, meaning Alabama standout Christian Barmore is also available. He’d tempt Seattle as well if he falls further. There are also a few good ends who remain available, including Azeez Olujari of Georgia and Joseph Ossai of Texas.