RENTON — When the dust settled on the 2022 NFL draft, the Seahawks made nine picks, three times the team-record-tying low Seattle had in 2021.
“Way more fun” was coach Pete Carroll’s assessment of the weekend compared to a year ago.
And on paper, it appeared to be about as successful in the execution of their plan as hoped, as well.
Carroll and general manager John Schneider acknowledged Seattle wanted to fill some specific position groups, both because of team needs but also because they were positions that were regarded as especially strong in the draft.
“We’ve got some spots we had kind of agreed upon it would be nice to get some help,” Carroll said.
And on the final day, that led to Seattle using one trade to acquire an extra pick in the seventh round and finish by taking two cornerbacks (Coby Bryant of Cincinnati in the fourth and Tariq Woolen of the University of Texas-San Antonio in the fifth), two receivers (Bo Melton of Rutgers and Dareke Young of Lenoir-Rhyne, each in the seventh) and one outside linebacker/edge rusher (Tyreke Smith of Ohio State in the fifth).
And that meant that for the draft as a whole, Seattle added two edge rushers (also drafting Boye Mafe of Minnesota in the second), two offensive tackles (Charles Cross of Mississippi State in the first and Abraham Lucas of Washington State in the third) and one running back (Kenneth Walker III of Michigan State in the second), along with Saturday’s haul.
And while the task of building an NFL roster is never done — there are a handful of veteran free agents who remain unsigned whom Seattle could acquire — the bulk of the work is now done.
So what does Carroll think of what Seattle has assembled?
“The roster feels to be in pretty good shape right now,” he said. “To answer your question, are there big holes? I don’t feel like that, no.”
Others may disagree, especially since it remains unclear who will start at quarterback as Seattle embarks on the post-Russell Wilson era.
Seattle concluded the draft without drafting a quarterback, passing on an opportunity to take North Carolina’s Sam Howell, who didn’t go until pick 144, apparently content for now to ride with one of either Drew Lock or Geno Smith.
That uncertainty will be enough that most preseason pundits figure to pick the Seahawks last in the NFC West behind three teams that made last season’s playoffs, including the defending Super Bowl champion Rams.
But aside from quarterback — admittedly, the biggest question mark there can be — Carroll has reasons to be his typically optimistic self.
Adding Cross and Lucas solidified maybe the biggest question the team had entering the draft, offensive tackle.
“That was a big deal,” Carroll said of finding what the team hopes are its left (Cross) and right (Lucas) tackles for years to come, joining a line with a veteran trio of guards Damien Lewis and Gabe Jackson and, probably, free-agent signee Austin Blythe at center.
Adding Tyreke Smith on Saturday and Mafe on Friday beefed up the team’s pass rush with speedy, athletic players the team feels are good fits for the 3-4 defense Seattle wants to play more in 2022.
Like offensive tackle, this draft was regarded as especially strong in pass rushers.
“We had some spots (to fill),” Carroll said. “And we didn’t just get a guy, we got a couple guys that can help us, we think.”
Seattle did the same at cornerback Saturday with Bryant and Woolen.
Bryant, named after Kobe but given a different spelling by his parents to make him “unique,” may be able to compete for immediate playing time after winning the Jim Thorpe Award last year as college football’s best defensive back. Woolen, listed at 6-4, 210, may be more of a project, drafted by the Seahawks in part due to his off-the-chart tangibles, including a 4.26 40 at the combine — second fastest this year — and a 42-inch vertical leap tied for the best.
“Crazy, crazy numbers,” Carroll said.
Both will have their chances to create a role for themselves in a cornerback spot that has few sure things with Seattle having decided not to re-sign D.J. Reed — a move the Seahawks may have made with the draft in mind, knowing they could find some good prospects to flesh out the position.
Tre Brown appears the favorite for one corner spot and Justin Coleman the favorite for the nickel. But the other cornerback spot seems wide open.
Seattle finished its draft taking flyers in the seventh round on two receivers who each also have some tantalizing tangibles — Melton ran a 4.34 40 at the combine, eighth best of all players, while Young is 6-3, 220, and has a significant history as a running back, versatility Seattle will likely try to tap into.
The Seahawks didn’t take an inside linebacker as many speculated Seattle would, with the team apparently content with Jordyn Brooks and Cody Barton as the likely starters.
“We like the guys that we have,” Carroll said. “We’re in good shape. We didn’t need to go there.”
The only pick anyone really seemed to question much was that of Walker on Friday. But with Chris Carson’s availability this year remaining iffy and only Rashaad Penny a proven threat among the rest of the team’s running backs, adding a running back should hardly have been a surprise, especially given Seattle’s hope to run it more and better going forward to help out whoever wins the quarterback job.
That Seattle made only one trade in the draft also may have been a surprise given the team’s history.
But Schneider said it wasn’t for lack of trying.
“I definitely thought we’d move around more than we did,” he said. But he hinted that ultimately, only one trade was made because when the Seahawks saw their turn coming, they liked the player they were about to get.
“Things kind of kept happening the way they should,” Schneider said.
Much of the draft was conducted under the watchful eye of team chair Jody Allen, who was seen sitting front and center in the team’s war room during the first round Thursday, with the organization able to again have a full building after the relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions that altered the drafts the past two years.
“She was a blast,” Schneider said. “She was into it.”
After last year’s 7-10 record, she had every reason to be, hoping the moves made over the weekend — and the past few months — will help the team reverse course in 2022.