Ah, yes. Here it is, the thick of April.
For those extreme football obsessed dorks like myself, late April is kin to second Christmas. At the end of the month, it’s three solid days of the NFL draft where every fanbase across America believes their team is drafting players who will help bring home the Lombardi Trophy.
Outside of the actual NFL season, this is my favorite time of the year as a Seattle Seahawks fan. This is my time to pour over the players coming out of college, looking at who fits my team’s needs, and who might be players too good to pass up regardless of positional need.
For the next view weeks, I will provide a weekly article that includes a mock draft for the Seahawks. I see a number of ways they can go with the fifth overall pick, and each week, I will provide a radically different scenario. This is the first one, and with it, I want to focus on an area that can be a bit divisive amongst fans.
As it stands now, I gaze upon this Seahawk roster, and I immediately see a large gaping hole in the middle of the defensive line at nose tackle. That position, in my view, is the team’s biggest need with the release of Al Woods, and Poona Ford also not being brought back as of yet.
So, why then have they been so outwardly showing up to all of these quarterback pro days and taking selfies with these dudes?
Geno Smith just signed a big-ish three year contract extension, and they brought back a young Drew Lock who they continue to like as a developmental player. Sure, the Geno contract is team friendly, and they can eventually get out of it without much financial repercussions, but does a 71 year old defensive minded coach really want to spend a top five pick in this draft on a player who is going to have to sit behind Geno for a year (or more) when that pick could go to perhaps the best defensive player in the draft???
It isn’t difficult to cast doubt on this scenario. In fact, when I use the most rational area of my brain, the thing I sense most when looking at all these team visits with CJ Stroud, Bryce Young, Will Levis, and Anthony Richardson is that the Seahawks want to have a quarterback desperate team to jump in front of them for one of these guys, creating a rare scenario where all four of these quarterbacks go 1 through 4, and thus creating the situation where the best defensive talent falls to them at pick 5. Given the coach, and what is already assembled on this roster, that feels like the strongest likelihood. That’s what my logic says.
So, having said that, why is it that this other area inside my brain is starting to believe rumors that Seattle is especially enamored with Anthony Richardson, and may even consider a rare scenario of trading up with divisional rival Arizona in order to land him?
The simple answer is that he tantalizes too much. Outside of CJ Stroud, no other quarterback in this draft does it for me quite like Richardson does.
At 6-4 244 pounds, Richardson is an athletic superhero straight out of central casting. He runs a blistering 4.43 forty yard dash, and tests out as an incredibly explosive athlete in other ways, as well. In fact, no quarterback has ever been drafted before with his combination of size, speed, and explosiveness. He’s a faster athlete than Lamar Jackson with third extra pound of mass on his body.
You put that together with a rocket launcher arm that can spin a ball sixty yards down field with effortless ease, and it becomes easy to fantasize what he can do in a couple years paired with DK Metcalf, and company. As much of a Geno Smith guy that I am, I gawk at the possibilities of what Richardson could do in Seattle with the talents already on this roster.
It is also encouraging is that his game got better in college last year as the season wore on, thus demonstrating a vibe of being coachable, and also being able to overcome a shaky start in the very tough SEC conference. In games 7 through 13, Richardson threw 12 touchdowns to only 2 interceptions, and in throws twenty yards downfield or more, his passer rating was 132.7. In that final stretch of games, it has also been noted that he showed marked improvement in his short passing game, which is vital to Shane Waldron’s offense.
When you combine what he was able to do with this legs as a runner, with the fact that he played against the top defenses in the nation, in an offense for which he had to go through his progressions, and make reads, it becomes easy to day dream what he could eventually do at the next level. While his overall low completion percentage is alarming, many of those incompletions were intentional throwaways against those defenses, and balls that were dropped by receivers. In short, NFL GM’s are into this guy for a reason.
So, yeah, for me, he very much tantalizes, and in many ways, a team just like the Seattle Seahawks is probably the ideal landing spot for him. Pete Carroll has his starting quarterback in place. Richardson, who is just turning 21 in May, can redshirt, take his time learning this Waldron offense, and learn how to be an NFL ready quarterback under newly hired QB coach Greg Olson (who has a long history developing young quarterbacks).
Also, sitting behind Geno doesn’t necessarily mean not seeing any action. With Richardson, Seattle might see value in using Richardson on game days just to get his freakish physical skills on the field in certain situations as a duo threat quarterback. They could even have him on the field with Geno in order to create confusion for a defense.
In many ways, Geno Smith and Anthony Richardson together provides perfect quarterback security for the team. If Richardson needs longer time to develop, Seattle has Geno Smith. If Richardson is ready to go sooner, Seattle can quickly pass the torch over. If Geno gets injured or somehow regresses, Seattle has Richardson in their back pocket.
So, yeah, I can see Seattle taking a special shining to Richardson. I’m willing to buy this storyline.
He’s apparently an A+ character that Pete Carroll will probably be in love with, he has all the toolsy traits that John Schneider loves in a quarterback, and Seattle wouldn’t be wasting his time having him sit behind Geno. This dude is raw, needs time to correct his fundamentals, and to work within their system.
But would they love him enough to trade up to number 3 with division rival Arizona in order to get in front of quarterback needy Indianapolis picking at 4?
Would Arizona really want to do this with Seattle????
This is where it gets interesting to me. I think it’s possible, but here are to two variables that need to happen.
Seattle has to be in love with Richardson so much that they would surrender valuable draft stock to move up two spots, and they would have to feel certain that Carolina and Houston wouldn’t select Richardson. The other thing is that Arizona would have to have a specific defender in mind that they want at 3, and they would have to feel certain that player would still be there at 5 after a trade back. This is how I think it has to shake out for both clubs.
So, as I look at this scenario, it certainly does feel like the potential for a perfect storm to brew where a couple of rare things to happen with this draft. I can see a scenario where not only do four quarterbacks go off the board with the first four picks, but also a rare interdivisional trade happening between Seattle and Arizona as part of it.
Seattle gets its quarterback of the future, and Arizona gets the guy who can be the new cornerstone of their defense in a rebuild. Both teams feel secure in their decisions to make this happen.
So, what would it cost for Seattle to pull this off?
That’s a fantastic question! I’m glad I asked it.
I dunno, but I kinda think not that much, and Seattle has perhaps the best means to pull it off, I think. By using an online NFL draft calculator that measures the values of each pick, if Seattle sends picks 5 and 37 to Arizona for pick 3, Arizona slightly comes out with the better value by 30 points.
Maybe the Cardinals haggle a bit for more, but maybe they just take that deal, and are perfectly fine with that knowing all the teams are going to take quarterbacks in front of them, and Will Anderson or Jalen Carter will be there for the taking at 5. The security of having “their guy” is just too good to pass up even with an offer of more trade value from another team, and adding pick 37 isn’t too shabby, either, as they can further add to their defense.
For Seattle, having another first round pick at 20 is also key. Maybe there’s a defender at 20 who they think isn’t too far off from Anderson, or maybe they know they can trade back from 20 and add back another day two pick or more (likely in this scenario, I think). Day 2 of the draft is going to provide pretty decent value at tight end, center, edge rusher, defensive tackle, corner, receiver, and running back. If they can knock a need off in the later portion of round one, and three more of these needs in day 2, that feels like a decent win. You’re not likely going to fill every need through the draft, anyways.
Also, we have no idea who presently on this roster the team views as an emerging talent. Maybe they believe 2023 will be the year of Boye Mafe to step up in a big way as an edge rusher, or Dareke Young is going to take over the third receiver role. Maybe they think Coby Bryant is ready to shine as a boundary defender instead of being used as a slot corner.
Assuming that this scenario plays out between Seattle and Arizona, here’s a mock draft of how it could play out for Seattle should such a move up to take Richardson actually happen. Read it and weep, if you made it this far into this article, and dare.
Seahawks trade to the Arizona Cardinals picks 5 and 37 of the 2023 NFL Draft for pick number overall.
With third pick of the NFL draft, the Seattle Seahawks select Anthony Richardson, Quarterback, Florida
Seahawks get the player they loved more than any of the pass rushers or other defenders, and believe they have landed the next great franchise quarterback to groom behind Geno Smith.
Seahawks trade pick 20 to the Dallas Cowboys for picks 26 and 90
With the 26th pick of the NFL draft, the Seattle Seahawks select Dalton Kincaid, Tight End, Utah
Seattle surprises by taking a tight end over a defensive lineman, but Kincaid has the skills to possibly become the next Travis Kelsey, and with Will Dissly coming off an injury and Noah Fant and Coby Parkinson set to be free agents next year, Seattle feels compelled to grab another the guy they love here.
With the 52nd pick in the 2023 NFL draft, the Seattle Seahawks select Luke Wypler, Center, Ohio State
Seattle misses out on the best center in the draft in Minnesota’s John Michael Schmitz, but I think they also like Wypler to fit their zone blocking scheme enough to comfortably take him here.
With the 83rd pick in the 2023 NFL draft, the Seattle Seahawks select Daiyan Henley, linebacker, Washington State
Stunningly, Seattle waits until round three to grab its first defender, and it isn’t a defensive lineman, but an off ball coverage linebacker who they want to groom behind Bobby Wagner for a year.
With the 90th pick in the 2023 draft, the Seattle Seahawks select Zacch Pickens, defensive tackle, South Carolina
Pickens is an explosive defensive linemen who will likely fit well within Seattle’s hybrid bear front defense, and has the athletic traits to pair well with Dre’Mont Jones as an interior pass rusher over the years to come.
With the 123rd pick in the 2023 NFL draft, the Seattle Seahawks select Sean Tucker, running back, Syracuse
Seattle needs depth behind K9 and Tucker provides enough shifty speed kind on the field to be another home run hitter anytime he sees enough daylight.
With the 151st pick in the 2023 NFL draft, the Seattle Seahawks select Parker Washington, wide receiver, Penn State
Seattle needs someone to materialize as their primary slot receiver, and Dee Eskridge has not been able to stay healthy enough to take over. Washington is a short compact dude who displays a natural toughness after contact, can be used on jet sweeps, and has natural run after the catch abilities.
With the 153rd pick in the 2023 NFL draft, the Seattle Seahawks select Andrew Vorhees, Guard, USC
Seattle takes their second offensive lineman here with Vorhees who they like enough to create a competition at right guard with Phil Haynes. Good value pickup here.
With the 198th pick in the 2023 NFL draft, the Seattle Seahawks select Nic Jones, cornerback, Ball State
Seattle waits out a rich cornerback class and takes a twitchy athlete late who they might like as a potential starting nickel corner, if they look to move Coby Bryant outside more to battle for the left corner spot with Michael Jackson Sr.
With the 237th pick in the 2023 NFL draft, the Seattle Seahawks select Karl Brooks, defensive tackle, Bowling Green
Brooks provides depth behind Jarran Reed, and Dre’Mont Jones, and Pickens, and could be tried at nose tackle, although he lacks the size of Al Woods. At this stage of the draft, Seattle could be looking for a defensive lineman who has enough traits to be able to backup multiple spots on the defensive line, much like Myles Adams, and this could be the guy to do that.
Thoughts about this mock draft and final thoughts about this piece.
So how would I feel if Seattle made the bold move of trading up to select this twenty year old raw yet incredibly talent quarterback?
I will be the first to admit how much of a Geno Smith fan I have become. Yes, I enjoyed his feel good story last season, but I really enjoyed his play, and I suspect he’s scratching the surface of what he can be as a starter moving forward. Not only to I think his play is sustainable, I think it’s likely to get better.
That said, if Seattle made this bold aggressive move for Richardson, it would signal to me that they believe he is destined to become a true superstar player at the most important position in football, and that is super duper exciting. Even if he had to redshirt a couple seasons to be fully ready to take over for Geno Smith, that would be well worth the pick, if he becomes a player on par with Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen.
At any rate, I wanted to present this draft scenario where Seattle shocks, and goes against the grains of most people’s expectations. In this scenario I have imagined, as an entire organization, the Seahawks absolutely LOVE Anthony Richardson, and they believe that bringing him to Seattle is ideal both for them, and him. He is their guy.
The other surprising element that I wanted to present is Seattle waiting until the third round to address obvious needs on defense. I don’t know if this is how it will actually go down, but I can see a slight case for it. John Schneider has said that the key for them drafting so well last year was that they avoided reaching for players, and just took best guys available at each spot, and it paid off big time.
In the later portion of round one, Seattle might see a tight end as the best player on their board, and they don’t want to miss out on him. In the mid portion of round two, they might view center Luke Wypler more worthy at pick 52 than a run stuffing nose tackle.
While I think it’s disappointing that Seattle doesn’t add another edge rusher, I think Zacch Pickens is the type of interior defensive lineman that will appeal to Seattle. He’s long, explosive, and like a lot of players they’ve been attracted to on the defensive line, he’s versatile enough play big end and defensive tackle. If he’s available in the third round, I can see Seattle wanting him there.
If I am to be critical of this mock, I would say that, on top of missing out on another edge rusher, I would be most bummed about Seattle not landing an athletic nose tackle type with Michigan’s Mazi Smith and Wisconsin’s Keeanu Benton both in this draft. Either player could become pretty ideal interior anchors in Clint Hurtt’s scheme.
But that is the nature of the NFL draft. It’s tough to fill out all your draft needs, and you don’t want to go chasing them. Mazi Smith might prove to be a dominant two down run defender, but might never blossom into much of an interior pass rusher, while Dalton Kincaid could become an all pro tight end. Which would you rather have on you roster if those scenarios play out?
Things to think about, certainly, and perhaps there exists a thinking in Seattle that, in order to surpass the 49ers as kings of the division, it is not to out compete them defensively, but rather to make the Seattle offense that much harder to defend. In other words, Seattle is already a better offensive team than it is a defensive one, and perhaps there is soundness with leaning further into your strengths, and to make a good unit an elite one.
A month ago, I would have almost entirely wrote off this exact scenario, but now I am not quite so sure. I think it’s entirely possible, frankly, and if they are absolutely in love with a specific guy like Anthony Richardson, maybe they do this sort of trade up to get him.
If they do, I think it would be exciting. I would celebrate that move.