RENTON — The big story for the Seahawks Friday wasn’t who they picked. Instead, it was more about who they didn’t pick. Or more specifically — what they didn’t pick.
Seattle added an edge rusher in Boye Mafe with the 40th selection, a running back in Kenneth Walker III with the 41st and an offensive tackle in Abraham Lucas with the 72nd. Those three will join offensive tackle Charles Cross, whom the Seahawks snagged with the ninth overall pick Thursday.
What Seattle didn’t add, however, was a quarterback. Meaning it seems Drew Lock or Geno Smith is going to be the guy behind center.
This isn’t a critique so much as it is an observation. It’s not as if the Seahawks were unique in not wanting to pick up a signal caller. Through the first 73 picks of the draft, only one quarterback had been taken — Kenny Pickett at No. 20 — which was the fewest through that many picks since 1988.
Friday, Seahawks general manager John Schneider was asked if he was tempted to take any of the QBs still on the board.
“Sure, things have to time up right. They just didn’t time up,” he said. “I’ve said this before, that the head coach and the quarterback are the most important people in the building. It just has to be right.”
Maybe Seattle will grab a quarterback later in the draft. Maybe it’ll pick up a veteran like Baker Mayfield before the season begins. But right now, it seems as if the Seahawks are content with having their most important position group being composed of unproven players.
What does this mean? It could mean the Seahawks are setting themselves up to make their big quarterback score after this season. They’ll have the salary-cap room to go after anybody who is available. Among the quarterbacks set to be free agents in 2023 are Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Foles and Teddy Bridgewater.
OK, maybe not the sexiest names. But you never really know who’s going to be available. Russell Wilson wasn’t a free agent when he was shipped off to the Broncos, but that deal took place last month and shook up the NFL. The more likely route for the Seahawks, though, is drafting a quality QB in 2023.
According to early projections, the quarterback class next year is antithetical to this year’s. Profootballnetwork.com’s Cam Mellor has seven QBs going in the first round of next year’s draft, including the top three overall players. Remember, the Seahawks will have two first-round picks (their own and Denver’s) next season, along with two second-round picks. Even if they finish in the middle of the standings, they can likely use those selections to move up and take a franchise-changing signal caller.
All the picks so far seem to be setting up for the season after next. Seattle didn’t do anything fancy in this year’s draft. They needed tackles, so they got one on the left side with Cross and one on the right with Lucas. They were short on pass rushers, so they drafted a highly touted one in Mafe. Chris Carson has a serious neck injury, Rashaad Penny is under contract for just one year, so they swooped up a running back that could replace them and be their ball carrier of the future. Assuming all those players develop, a substandard season could be exactly what Seattle needs to land a quarterback that sets it up for the long haul.
Not that coach Pete Carroll is anticipating a substandard season.
“We’re not going to pick high for a while,” he said.
Of course, the other thing passing on a QB could mean is that the Seahawks have faith that either Lock or Smith are qualified to make them contenders. Carroll lauded Lock after acquiring him in the Wilson trade, pointing out he won four of the five games he started in as a rookie in 2019. And though Smith was 1-2 in his three starts for the Seahawks last year, the two losses were by a combined six points, and he finished the year with a 68.4 completion percentage while throwing five touchdowns against one interception.
But expecting one of those guys to send the Seahawks back to the playoffs is wishful thinking at best and outright delusional at worst.
The Seahawks should not have felt obligated to go for a QB if they didn’t think he could be a major contributor. They are smart to try and cultivate foundation and wait for the right guy.
But anyone who thought the team isn’t in the midst of a rebuild is likely mistaken. This is going to be a process, and it’s going to take time.