Trying to project what the Seahawks will do in the NFL draft has been notoriously tricky.
It’s especially hard in a year like this when the Seahawks don’t have a first-round pick. This year marks the second of two first-round picks that were sent to the New York Jets as part of the Jamal Adams trade.
But while Seattle doesn’t have a first-round pick, the Seahawks do have some significant draft capital — one pick early in the second round as well as a third-round pick and two in the fourth.
And who might be available when the Seahawks make their first pick at 41?
Mock drafts, if nothing else, give us a good idea of who experts think could be there for Seattle’s taking, with draft preparation taking another significant step with the NFL combine this week in Indianapolis.
So, let’s review a few, while noting that many of the big-name mock drafters do only a first round, so we had to dig a little bit to find some getting to the Seahawks.
The pick: Defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma.
Comment: Is defensive tackle Seattle’s top need? Probably not if the Seahawks re-sign Al Woods and tender restricted free agent Bryan Mone to pair again with Poona Ford. Winfrey is regarded as a player who improved his stock at the Senior Bowl, even if a lot of analysts still see him as more of a third- or fourth-round pick. Pro Football Focus, for instance, pegs him in the fourth round, writing: “Winfrey has the tools to develop into a pass-rushing threat in the NFL, but it’ll take a while to get there.” Seattle, though, may not want to draft developmental players with its first pick this year.
The pick: Quarterback Sam Howell, North Carolina.
Comment: So, could Seattle really go with a QB with its first pick? It’s an intriguing thought with Russell Wilson’s long-term future with the team unclear. But how Seattle approaches the draft will be telling about how it views where the organization stands right now.
Howell would also be a developmental pick — he isn’t beating out Wilson anytime soon. With Seattle in pure “win-now” mode, would that make sense? To be fair, WalterFootball noted in its comments that this would be a pick made if the Seahawks decided to trade Wilson. But with coach Pete Carroll returning and turning 71 in September, few think the team is going to blow things up and start the rebuild now. So this seems an unlikely way for Seattle to go.
And would Howell be available at 41? Some mocks have him going in the first half of the first round in a draft in which there are greatly differing views of the quarterbacks available.
The pick: Defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M.
Comment: Here’s what Hallam wrote about Leal: “DeMarvin Leal is a bit of a tweener, which could be contributing to his fall. At 290 pounds, his best work is done as a run defender on the edge and a pass rusher that kicks inside on third down.” Sounds like another former Texas A&M player Seattle had some success with — Michael Bennett. And adding to the pass rush makes sense. As always, what Seattle gets done in free agency will influence how it approaches the draft, and if the Seahawks spend heavily to add a vet or two as edge rushers, going for inside pass rushers in the draft makes sense.
The pick: Offensive tackle Daniel Faalele, Minnesota
Comment: Seattle’s needs at offensive tackle when the draft rolls around will be much clearer in the next month as the Seahawks decide whether or not to re-sign Duane Brown. Seattle also has two developmental tackles on its roster in second-year players Jake Curhan and Stone Forsythe.
But loading up on OL is never a bad thing, and if Faalele is there at 41, he would be enticing. Wrote NFL.com of Faalele: “Enormous right tackle prospect (6-8, 387) who often feels like he’s going through an internal checklist of movements rather than cutting it loose and playing. Faalele has been able to overwhelm and move opponents with his sheer mass but might need a little more spice in his play demeanor to become a more willful, nasty block finisher against NFL linemen.”
The pick: Cornerback Kyler Gordon, Washington
Comment: Gordon is one of two UW cornerbacks expected to go early. The other, Trent McDuffie, is generally seen as a late first-round pick and not likely to be available when Seattle picks at 41. Seattle’s immediate need at cornerback will be determined in large part by whether D.J. Reed re-signs — or a similar replacement.
But the Seahawks struggled with their nickel position last year, too, and Gordon could be a good fit there, as well. And with two new coaches leading up the secondary and defensive passing game, getting a promising young corner to build around may be tempting. Gordon’s stock, though, could rise at the combine with some draft analysts predicting he’ll test well. “Don’t be surprised when Kyler Gordon is the overall ‘winner’ of the combine,” Matt Miller of NFLDraftScout.com tweeted this week. “Pound-for-pound I think he’s the most athletic overall player in the ’22 draft.”
The pick: Edge rusher Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State.
Comment: Seahawks fans need few reminders of the team’s need for edge rushers, and as such, the 6-3, 256-pound Ebiketie may make as much sense as a possible pick as anyone on this list. Writes NFL.com of Ebiketie: “Purposeful rusher with good length. Ebiketie is quiet to the edge with accurate, active hands and a pressure percentage worthy of projection. He’s not bendy and loose but uses body lean and skilled hands to grease the edge and access the pocket. He will need to keep adding to his bag of tricks as a pocket hunter, as he lacks the base and body type to hold his ground and plug up run games on a consistent basis. Ebiketie could see action as a sub-package pass rusher early in his career. He has the potential to find starting reps as a 3-4 rush linebacker in the future.” Yep, sounds like someone the Seahawks could use.
The pick: Cornerback Martin Emerson, Mississippi State.
Comment: Another vote for a corner, and this time one who fits the Seahawks’ traditional corner. Writes BleacherReport.com: “Martin Emerson is one of the tallest cornerbacks in this draft class. Standing at 6’2″, he’s a rangy athlete who uses his length to his advantage.” Pro Football Focus, though, has Emerson going in the third round with a more precautionary scouting report, writing: “Emerson gets by with his size, but his athletic limitations are scary for an outside corner.”
And if Seattle does re-sign Reed and Sidney Jones after drafting Tre Brown last year, the Seahawks may feel they are OK at cornerback — at least in terms of needing to spend their first pick on that position, anyway. As Seahawks fans may also not need reminding, Seattle has not taken a cornerback above the third round during the Carroll/John Schneider era (Shaquill Griffin in 2017).