Bow down to the awesome might of Seattle Seahawk General Manager John Schneider, and kiss his Super Bowl ring. Bend knee to this funny little dwarf, for he is glorious when it comes to value picks in the middles rounds.
Schneider killed the NFL draft this weekend.. again. Time will tell how great this 2023 draft class is, but on the surface, it looks like they grabbed at least four players on Day Three of the draft who can be legitimate starters in this league. In the opening round on Thursday night, they took two players who could be stars, and in the second round, they took a couple guys who have the potential of being high end starters, as well.
Who knows about the small school safety they took in round six, he wasn’t much on the media radar, but it sounds like he is a fast, athletic guy who is great in run support, and has potential at nickel, as well. We will get more into him, and the whole class later.
For now, I think every Seahawk fan should walk away from this weekend feeling pretty good about where this train is heading towards this year, and beyond. Seattle did not reach for talent, and did not get caught up on positional needs when they selected. They just took best available players, and the truth of the matter is that, even though they made the playoffs in 2022, this roster isn’t talented enough to force needs.
They took a cornerback at 5 because that corner was the best player on their board even though their cornerback room is pretty good. They took an edge rusher at 37 even though interior defensive line was a much bigger need, but they found interesting value at DT later. They took a dynamic, playmaking WR at 20 even though they have DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and 2021 second round pick Dee Eskridge to factor in. They took a dynamic running back at 52 even though they already have a dynamic young running back in Ken Walker.
Now, Seattle’s strengths are stronger.
Now, with Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Tyler, and DK on the field together, which receiver is a defensive coordinator going to focus attention on?
Now, with big, physical Zach Charbonnet mixing in with Walker, Seattle has two backs capable of big time starters in this league to wear out defenses in the second half of games.
Now, with scrappy Devon Witherspoon on one side of the field and freakishly long Tariq Woolen on the other, what side of the field is a quarterback most likely going to feel better about targeting?
See where I am going with this?
Instead of drafting a guy high to eventually replace Geno Smith, John Schneider drafted players who are going to make his job at quarterbacking much easier. He also found guys to immediately aid this team’s pass rush in coverage and rushing.
On top of all of this, Schneider found four guys in rounds 4 through 5 who NFL.com grades out as eventual starters in this league.. at positions of need. Then he took a fella in round 7 who some thought would be a third round pick.
That is how you crush a draft.
I give this 2023 draft class for the Seattle Seahawks an A+. I think it’s as good, if not better than last year’s draft class. I feel outstanding about the direction of this team moving into this season and beyond.
Here are all the players in order of selection and a brief breakdown about why I am so damn stoked about each of them being a Seattle Seahawk. Read it and weep.
Devon Witherspoon, Cornerback, Illinois
Picked 5th overall, Witherspoon is a 6-0 181 pound corner who plays with his hair on fire in coverage, and as a run defender. He has great playmaking instincts on the ball, and is a fierce hitter. Fans who loved watching DJ Reed play in Seattle a couple years ago are going to really love this guy. He has a great understanding of routes, and is natural in zone coverage. He’s a pit bull who is likely going to annoy a lot of 49er fans over the years.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Wide Receiver, Ohio State
Picked 20th overall, JSN is a nicely sized possession receiver, who like Doug Baldwin, is poised to do a lot of immediate damage in the slot. He is the best overall receiver in this class in terms of precision route running and hands. To me, he has Keenan Allen and CeeDee Lamb like potential. Super excited about this dude.
Derick Hall, Edge Rusher, Auburn
Picked at 37, Hall has the perfect size and athletic traits of players who have excelled here in the past for Carroll. He is right in the realm of Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril, and Frank Clark, just a naturally explosive, speed to power edge rusher who can work as a defensive end in a 4-3 or an OLB in a 3-4. He’s scrappy against the run, was a productive pass rusher, and a highly regarded leader at Auburn. First team SEC defensive end, which is saying something.
Zach Charbonnet, Running Back, UCLA
I flipped out with excitement when Seattle made this pick at 52. I think Charbonnet has big time talent. He’s a big, tough, quick playmaking dude who can do it all on the field. He can run inside, bust outside, he pass blocks well, and is a great receiver out of the backfield. I don’t think of him as a backup to Walker. I think Seattle now has two starting running backs, and they are going to split the load, which I find enticing.
Anthony Bradford, Guard, LSU
Seattle traded out of round 3 with Denver, and the desperate Broncos gave Seattle their high 4th round pick, plus their 2024 3rd round pick, which is absurd value for Seattle (thanks again, Denver!) With that 4th rounder, Seattle grabbed this massive athletic earth mover, who I had mocked to Seattle twice. If Seattle would have stayed at pick 83 and made this selection, I would have been fired up about it. Bradford is perfectly sized to play guard and tackle, and is athletic enough to do both at a high level. I think he comes in right away to compete for the starter spot at right guard with Phil Haynes. Outstanding pick.
Cameron Young, Defensive Tackle, LSU
Like Bradford, if Young was selected in the third round, I would have been giddy with excitement. I had him as a solid third round pick, in my mind. At 6-3 304 pounds, with long arms, and explosive traits, he has the size to play nose tackle, and the athleticism to play 3 tech and 5 tech. He’s an old school run stuffing DT with heavy hands to lock into double teams, and shock, and shed to make the tackle. Great value pick here in round 4.
Mike Morris, DE/DT, Michigan
Interesting pick for Seattle in the 5th round. Pro Football Focus had him rated as a 2nd rounder. He was a productive player in college last year, leading a strong Michigan team in sacks with 7 1/2. He did everything from stand up end, to a hand in the dirt inside guy for the Wolverines, but coming off of a high ankle sprain, he wasn’t a great tester at the combine. During a meeting with Seattle, he was asked to add weight in order to play on their interior defensive line as a 3 technique (very interesting). My gut tells me that Seattle might have found another 5th round gem, and he is going to work is ass off in order to prove a lot of teams wrong. Love it.
Olu Oluwatimi, Center, Michigan
With their other 5th round pick, Seattle took a center who Carroll said will compete to start right away. Olu is regarded as a smart tactician, and a natural leader. He’s a decent athlete for the position, and has the perfect squat build for the zone blocking scheme that Seattle adopted. I wouldn’t be surprised if Seattle starts two rookies again this year with him at center, and Bradford at guard. I like what this team is brewing now with their offensive line.
Jerrick Reed II, Safety, New Mexico
I’m not going to pretend to know much about this guy because I don’t. He wasn’t on my radar, but the scouting reports I have since dug up after Seattle took him in the 6th round all say he is fast, hard hitting defender against the run with good traits in coverage, as well. Not a big guy at 5-11 195 pounds, but neither is Quandre Diggs. Carroll said he will be looked at as a nickel defender, as well, and will add value to special teams. Seattle makes a deep safety rotation deeper with him added.
Kenny McIntosh, Running Back, Georgia
I’m no expert at this draft stuff, but I think Seattle got the steal of the draft in the 7th round by taking this playmaker here. I thought he would be a 3rd or 4th round pick, and mocked him to Seattle in previous pieces. He’s not a blazing speed guy, but I think he’s talented enough to start games in this league, or at the very least, be a very good third down back. He has very good receiver skills, and a great knack for where to sit down in the open flats. Seahawk fans should feel really good about the running back rotation now.
Final Thoughts About This Draft And The Seahawks Moving Forward
I have already said that I dig this draft, and that I think you should bow down to John Schneider. I think they absolutely nailed the draft for a second year in a row.
I love that they took explosive perimeter players early with their first three picks, and they added an additional starting running back with Charbonnet. I love K9 as much as the next Twelve, but I got really nervous last year when it looked like he was getting really beaten up in late November. In this day and age of football, where every athlete on the defense is bigger, stronger, and faster, I think smart teams load up unapologetically at running back. It is an important position to any team that wants perfect offensive balance.
I also love that Schneider had the onions to trade out of round 3 with Denver to grab an extra 3rd round pick next year. It was great value, and I think he likely saw about twenty to thirty players on his board around pick 83 who he had graded out very similarly. If he had stayed at pick 83 and taken Bradford, or Young, or even Morris, I wouldn’t have batted an eye at that pick. Bravo.
That said, I think the real beauty of this draft class is nailing the value of the picks in the middle round, yet again. Good teams find good value with interior offensive and defensive linemen in the middle rounds. Look around the league and see how many quality guards and DTs there are who where former fourth and fifth round picks. There’s a lot of them. These are not often the flashiest guys, but they are the dudes who make football.. football. They are the blue collars that often decide games. Some teams reach for them earlier and pass over premium positions, but other teams lay patient and find good ones later. I think Seattle did just that, brilliantly.
I think Seattle potentially found four really good starter types in Bradford, Young, Morris, and Oluwatimi. If I were to guess, Bradford and Oluwatimi will become starters sooner, but I think eventually so will Young and Morris.
With the defensive line, I suspect Seattle will work to get Poona Ford, or Al Woods back.. maybe even both. If they do, then I think Seattle has a real interior DL rotation going on with Dre”Mont Jones, Jarran Reed, the rookies, and these other vets.
Finally, I love that Seattle is showing total faith in Geno Smith and Drew Lock this year again at quarterback. Smith has earned the right to be seen at Seattle’s franchise quarterback. He was voted into pro bowl as a starting quarterback, and is probably a top five quarterback in the NFC conference right now. Lock, I believe still has the youth and talent to see if he can be further developed into a potential future starter.
For now, as a Twelve, I am continually embracing Geno. I’m buying his jersey. I love his potential even more in this offense with the receivers he now has, and the added depth at running back and offensive line. I think he can be special in this offense, and he can sustain it for a while. There is no reason why he can’t.
Bring. It. On.