Sunday, April 30, 2023

Welcome to the Family! - Seahawks 2023 Draft

Another NFL Draft is in the books and fans everywhere are salivating with their renewed championship dreams, having received an injection of new blood into their team's rosters. 

This year's festivities were held in Kansas City-- seemingly in an open pasture-- where we saw prospective draftees dressed to the nines and a red carpet's worth of celebrities.  

I was personally stoked when a pair of Seahawks late-round selections were announced by cast members of one of my favorite shows. If you haven't seen it, do yourself the favor of binging "Letterkenny" in its entirety on Hulu. I credit that show for helping me better understand hockey culture as I navigate the fandom of Seattle's relatively new hockey franchise, Seattle Kraken.

By many accounts, the Seattle Seahawks had crushed the 2023 NFL Draft, selecting ten players that will undoubtedly help improve the team in the upcoming season. The team addressed several areas of need, including defensive front, wide receiver, running back, and interior offensive line. They seemed to keep their word when they indicated that they would draft the best player available, rather than drafting for need, but with a bevy of picks in hand-- they somehow managed to do both. 

Let's take a closer look at each player selected by the Seahawks in the draft:

Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois (No. 5 overall):

Witherspoon was the Seahawks' top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and is expected to start opposite last season's rookie standout, Tariq Woolen. Witherspoon is a fearless tackler and cover corner with excellent instincts and ball skills. He has the speed, agility, and quickness to stick with even the most elusive receivers and is not afraid to come up and make a big hit in run support. In fact, Witherspoon's physicality and toughness are reminiscent of some of the best defensive backs in NFL history.

In an interview following the draft, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll boldly proclaimed that he hadn't seen a prospect like Witherspoon since Troy Polamalu. This is considerably high praise, given that Polamalu is widely regarded as one of the greatest safeties of all time. Witherspoon's talent and potential are clear, and he has the opportunity to become a star in the NFL if he continues to develop and hone his skills.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State (No. 20):

Smith-Njigba is an explosive wide receiver who has the ability to stretch the field and create big plays. He was a standout at Ohio State and should be able to contribute right away for the Seahawks, who lacked depth at the wide receiver position. Smith-Njigba could become a dangerous weapon for Seattle's offense, given his versatility, but expect him to earn his keep in the slot with DK and Tyler out wide. 

Derick Hall, edge, Auburn (No. 37):

Hall is a talented pass rusher who could help the Seahawks improve their ability to get after the quarterback. He has excellent speed and quickness off the edge and should be able to contribute as a situational pass rusher early in his career. Hall has the potential to develop into a star player for Seattle with his unique mixture of power and explosiveness.

Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA (No. 52):

Charbonnet is a powerful running back who could help improve the Seahawks' rushing attack. He was one of the guys Brock Huard touted as not only a major culture fit for the Seahawks, but someone with a punishing play style and big play ability. He has good speed and vision, and he's a tough runner who can break tackles and pick up yards after contact. Charbonnet will likely compete for playing time with Ken Walker and DJ Dallas as a change of pace, adding some protection against attrition to a thin position group.

Anthony Bradford, OG, LSU (No. 108):

Bradford is a massive offensive lineman who has the potential to develop into a starting guard in the NFL. He's a powerful blocker who excels in the run game, and he has good mobility for his size. Bradford should provide depth along the Seahawks' offensive line and could develop into a future starter while giving the Seahawks depth should injuries arise.

Cameron Young, DT, Mississippi State (No. 123):

Young is a talented defensive tackle who could help improve the Seahawks' run defense. He's a big, strong player who can hold his ground at the line of scrimmage, and he has good instincts for finding the ball. Young should compete for playing time in Seattle's defensive line rotation.

Mike Morris, DE, Michigan (No. 151):

Morris is a versatile defensive lineman who can play both inside and outside. He's a high-motor player who has good athleticism and a solid pass rush repertoire. Morris will likely compete for a roster spot in training camp.

Olu Oluwatimi, C, Michigan (No. 154):

Oluwatimi is a technically sound center who was a team captain at Michigan. He has good size and strength, and he's a smart player who makes good decisions. Oluwatimi will provide depth at center for the Seahawks, pushing Evan Brown for the starting role. 

Jerrick Reed II, S, New Mexico (No. 198):

Reed is a physical safety who could contribute on special teams and fill the void created by Ryan Neal's departure as a backup safety for the Seahawks. He's a hard-hitting player who has good instincts for finding the ball, and he's a willing tackler.

Kenny McIntosh, RB, Georgia (No. 237):

McIntosh is a talented running back who can contribute both as a runner and a pass-catcher out of the backfield. He has good speed, quickness, and agility, and can make defenders miss in space. While he's not the biggest back, he has a sturdy build and runs with good power and balance. He could contribute on special teams as well.

In conclusion, the Seahawks made some solid picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, addressing key needs on both offense and defense. Devon Witherspoon was the consensus best cornerback in the draft.  He projects to start right away, opposite Tariq Woolen, making for a fearsome CB duo. Nabbing the top receiving prospect in Jaxon Smith-Njigba adds depth and playmaking ability to the receiving corps.

Derick Hall and Cameron Young are both strong additions to the defensive front, and Zach Charbonnet could be a steal at running back. Anthony Bradford and Olu Oluwatimi provide depth and competition along the offensive line, while Jerrick Reed II could develop into a solid safety. Kenny McIntosh is a talented player who could contribute in a variety of ways. Overall, the Seahawks have added a nice mix of talent and depth to their roster, and fans should be excited to see how these rookies develop and contribute in the coming season.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Mini-Mock #5 - Defense Wins Championships

It's here!  

It's FINALLY here!!

Today is the day of the of 2023 NFL Draft and, if you're a Seahawks fan, you should be tremendously stoked.  Seattle currently have six picks in the top 125. 

They're coming off of a playoff appearance and should legitimately challenge the 49ers for NFC West supremacy-- especially if this draft goes well. 

To this very moment, there remains so much uncertainty throughout the first round we really have no idea how things will play out once Carolina is officially on the clock.

It's hard to tell what the Seahawks will do, but it's hard to imagine them not leaning hard into the defense.  In my final mock draft before tonight's real deal, I leaned heavy into the defense.  I threw in a bonus 3rd round pick, where I selected Mississippi  wide out, Jonathan Mingo.

Since February, I've ran hundreds of mock drafts, in a desperate attempt to look into the future of the Seahawks.  The way last season ended, it was evident that we have a good core, but clearly need to take the next step. 

In this draft, like so many others before it, I once again selected Jalen Carter with the Seahawks pick at five.  Unless Will Anderson is available, Carter seems the only satisfying selection here.  Sometimes Stroud is available here in the mocks I've run.  Stroud is my favorite of the 2023 QB prospects, but I still tend to favor defense with this pick. 

Unlike many of my other drafts, I went defense with all four picks in the first two rounds.  I absolutely could not pass on Nolan Smith at #20, even though I'm confident he'll be long gone by that pick.  If the Seahawks are able to go to sleep tonight having secured a generational interior defensive lineman as well as a legit edge rusher with tremendous off-field characteristics, we'll have done very well.

Round two wasn't any different in my simulation of Friday's portion of the draft.  I came away with a speedy linebacker in Jack Campbell (Captain Jack, if you're a disciple of Brock Huard) and another edge rusher out of USC to fortify our defensive front.  

With all of that being said, there are a number of guys I'd be totally happy with becoming Seahawks tonight.  

There is one 'nightmare' scenario I really hope doesn't pan out, whereby all of my favorite top prospects go in picks 1-4.  If, when the Seahawks are called to make their first pick, the draft board looks like it does in the photo to the right, I really hope the Seahawks trade back.

Tonight all of our questions will be answered and a whole new world of speculation opens.  If we've learned anything over the past decade, its that even though the draft can be a real crap shoot, we have every reason to trust in the partnership of Pete & John. 

Enjoy the draft and be on the lookout Sunday for a full draft recap!

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Mini-Mock #4 - Seahawks Draft for Now and Later


If this were my final pre-draft mock, I'd be happy.  

If this were the Seahawks actual selections through the first two rounds of the draft, I'd be ecstatic. 

In the penultimate SeahawksFTW Mini-Mock Draft, the Seattle Seahawks add two impact defensive starters, filling major needs from last season, while also fortifying the few weak spots on their offensive front with additional potential starters to protect your recently extended franchise quarterback.  

I had only intended to continue the two round mock drafts I've been putting out, but I accidentally forgot to change it from the default three round mock.  So in this bonus addition, you see the Seahawks 83rd overall selection, where we drafted a quarterback to train under Geno.

In this mock, Bryce Young was taken with the top pick. At this point, its hard not to assume that to be the consensus #1 pick.  The Texans then shake things up in this mock, by going with Anthony Richardson with the second pick.  The Cardinals snatched up Jalen Carter at #3 with the Colts taking Will Levis at #4.

I had the interesting decision of having a lot of options at #5, but it felt like trading back would've cost us taking any of the guys we were targeting. For a while I expected the Seahawks to trade back to obtain more 2nd and 3rd round picks-- where the Seahawks bread is typically buttered.

However, after running a number of these mocks, it feels like there is too much disparity between the top and bottom of the first round.  I don't know who the Seahawks will take with that fifth overall choice, but whoever they take will be transformative. 

In this mock, I went with the best player available, passing up CJ Stroud to take Will Anderson, Jr. If available to them, the Seahawks need to find a way to fit him into their defense. 

With pick #20, I was planning to address interior defensive line help.  None of my preferred players were available besides Bryan Bresee, but Nolan Smith was still there and I couldn't pass on that guy.  He's not only sensational on the field, but he has tremendous character off the field, as well. Total Seahawk guy.  

With these two now in the fold, my thought is that Dre Jones and Jarran Reed will handle the interior of the line, with the new guys coming off the edges in rotation with Boye Mafe, Darrell Taylor, and company. 

I wasn't planning for it to go down this way, but with both of my second round draft picks I went with interior offensive linemen.  After the Nolan Smith pick, I knew I had to go offense.  In my limited planning, I was thinking I would take the best Center available and hopefully add an offensive weapon, either a running back or a receiver.  

When I was on the clock, however, the available player pool changed my mind.

O'Cyrus Torrence is a big, agile, right guard that could plug in right away in this offense. He could also sit behind Haynes or Lewis and be eased in slowly.  I've made it explicitly clear how I feel about preparing for attrition.  We've barely had capable starters on this roster the past few seasons, let alone competent backups.  Seattle needs a more robust offensive line room and this move shores that up nicely.

Just a few picks later, I selected another interior offensive lineman who could very likely be in the week one starting lineup.  Center Joe Tippmann was one of Brock Huard's "Very Biased Draft Profiles" as his favorite Center in this year's draft.  

Austin Blythe, while knowledgeable, didn't possess the strength and athleticism needed to be a serviceable lineman in the NFL last year.  His decision to retire at the end of the season seems to indicate that he would agree with me.  

I was shocked to discover that Joey Hunt is still on the Seahawks roster. Joey Hunt is a less experienced version of Austin Blythe.  The Seahawks did sign Evan Brown, the former Lions G/C, to presumably start the season at center, but his versatility would allow for the Seahawks to make these two picks in the second round and let competition dictate the starting lineup.  

If Torrence shines in camp, but Tippmann struggles, then Brown starts the season at Center.  

If Tippman really shows initiative but Torrence is slow to start, Brown can slide over to guard while Tippman handles Center duties. 

We're only two rounds into the 2023 NFL draft and Seattle has addressed immediate needs with their first four picks.  They still have 6 choices remaining and the undrafted free agency period.  Things are looking pretty sweet in the Pacific Northwest.

With their only selection in the third round, knowing that critical needs have already been addressed, I knew we had some flexibility here.  I could take a riskier move without too much consequence.  

I decided to take Quarterback Hendon Hooker out of Tennessee.  Hooker reminds me a little of our own Geno Smith and would benefit from sitting behind him for a season or two while we still have Geno under contract.  Now, this does likely mean that we'd have to carry three quarterbacks on our roster all year, because Drew Lock was resigned as well.

I would be perfectly fine having Hooker as the third QB running the scout team.  I would probably carry one less Wide Receiver on my roster to compensate, which is acceptable to me given that Seattle doesn't have much beyond Metcalf and Lockett. 

They'll add competition to that group in the later rounds of the draft and the undrafted free agency period. They have always been able to find gems like Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse after the draft concludes.

It's exciting to think how this particular draft scenario might play out.  What late round steals could the Seahawks pull off in this year's draft to help reload their roster?  If they can land 4 players like this to address immediate concerns at the top, they will have incredible flexibility for the remainder of the draft. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Mini-Mock #3- Seahawks Land Generational QB

 With the 5th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, it seems like the Seahawks found themselves in a proverbial no-man's-land when it comes to selecting a quarterback.

The consensus is the C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Anthony Richardson, and Will Levis are the top QBs in this draft. When the season ended, of the 4 teams picking ahead of the Seahawks, only half of them seemed to be in the QB market, so things looked pretty good for us. We'll almost assuredly end up with either a generational defensive talent or a quarterback that could ostensibly be the face of this franchise for the better part of the next decade.

Then, the Carolina Panthers came a-callin'.

When the Panthers moved up to the #1 spot in a trade with the Chicago Bears, it was immediately clear they saw a quarterback that they could build their franchise around.  The question is, which one?

Well, according to this mock draft, they wanted Alabama QB, Bryce Young.  

With the next pick, the similarly QB-needy Texans decided that they simply could not pass on Jalen Carter, foregoing a quarterback and opting for the Georgia star instead. Following them, the Cardinals went with Will Anderson Jr. for the third pick, something I fully anticipate them doing if he's available.

Now, the Colts want a QB, and they took a QB here. Who they took was somewhat surprising to me.  Rather than take the kid who has been shooting up the charts recently in Anthony Richardson, the Jim Irsay and his Colts instead select Will Levis from Kentucky.

I've heard a number of analysts say its a coin flip between Levis and Richardson, but those same analysts will all tell you that Stroud is head and shoulders better than both of them. 

Once again, my decision was made for me.  There wasn't any defensive player on the board that warranted that high of a selection and I decided that I wasn't going to perform any trades in this mock series.  Honestly, Stroud is my top QB choice in this draft, so even though I'm happy and content with Geno for the next couple years, I was more than happy to take Stroud here.

Richardson went 3 picks later to the Atlanta Falcons.  

Taking a QB with the 5 pick kind of threw me off my game, to be honest.  When the 20th pick was on the clock, none of my previous targets for this choice were around.  Calijah Kancey, who I had targeted at 20 in a number of previous mocks, didn't get past the Bears at #9. Tyree Wilson fell to the Texans at #12-- Jesus, imagine if they drafted both Wilson and Jalen Carter?  Scary.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba went to the Steelers at #17 and Nolan Smith to the Buccaneers just the pick before us.  I figured I had to go defense with this pick given the team's needs.  I selected interior defensive lineman Bryan Bresee from Clemson.

In the second round, I went purely best need player available.  I like the wazzu Cougar linebacker, Daiyan Henley, so I took him with our first pick in the second round. As far as I see it, the Seahawks aren't getting out of this draft without a center, so I took my favorite of the bunch with our last pick in the second round.  Joe Tippmann out of Wisconsin could start week one next season.

Almost as exciting as the draft is the unsigned free agency period that immediately follows.  Don't be surprised if the Seahawks take some chances knowing that they could potentially address some needs from that pool. 

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Mini Mock #2 - Fits and Hits


As we find ourselves closing in on the 2023 NFL Draft, there really isn't much better use of our collective free time than mindlessly filling out mock drafts. I'm going to run these whenever I get bored and share them here.

Every time I do one of these mocks and I see Jalen Carter available with that pick at number five-- I take 'em. 

I have to imagine the Seahawks will do the same. There are a lot of dudes in the top 20 of this year's draft class that are super interesting, but Carter looks the surest of all of them, even to the untrained eye.

With that second selection in the first round, I'm starting to see names available that haven't been there before. I was torn with this selection.  I've been 'studying' so many pass rushers because of the Seahawks particular needs this year that I thought long and hard about taking Nolan Smith out of Georgia with this pick. I instead went with Penn State cornerback, Joey Porter Jr.

My thinking here was that I like how Boye Mafe and Darrell Taylor are developing and I'd be inclined to believe that they will be significantly more disruptive and productive with Dre Jones, Jarran Reed, and Jalen Carter in the middle of that defensive line. As pleased as I was with what we saw from Mike Jackson last year, I'd feel a lot better counting on him as defensive back depth than contributing in a starting role.

Porter Jr. was being taken in the top 8-15 range in a lot of the previous drafts I ran.  A cursory glance at his YouTube reel shows that he, along with last year's rookie sensation Tariq Woolen, could grow to become the best cornerback tandem in the game. 

I suspect I will catch some shit for using our top pick in the second round on a position we seemingly crushed in last years draft, but Dawand Jones is a bad dude.  I'm not 100% comfortable with Seattle's starting line under ideal conditions, let alone when the inevitable attrition of the season sets in.  What happens, God forbid, when we lose Damien Lewis to a season ending injury in the midst of a playoff push?  What if Abe Lucas goes down with a high ankle sprain that sidelines him for a crucial set of games?  

The Seahawks are thin and inexperienced behind their starting offensive line. I used both picks to shore up that unit, selecting the Wisconsin Center Joe Tippmann 52nd overall. With these two in tow, I predict Seattle's opening day offensive line from left to right: Cross, Lewis, Tippmann, Brown, Lucas.  Eventually, Lucas could move to guard with Dawand Jones taking over at right tackle.

I'm only running the first two rounds of the draft in these series.  With this latest installment, I would expect the Seahawks to target a pair of receivers, a running back, and a pair of linebackers with their remaining selections.  Everybody feels pretty confident about the core of this Seahawks team.  With some prime draft choices upcoming, the Seahawks could take this team to the next level with a few fits and hits. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Mini-Mock #1 - Speculating in Anticipation of the 2023 NFL Draft


As the 2023 NFL Draft approaches, I find myself more giddy than I've been in ages.  

The draft wasn't always the national spectacle that it is today.  I don't even remember it being televised until the mid-to-late 90s, but then again I didn't have cable.

I suppose the last time I was this stoked for a draft was when the Seahawks selected Aaron Curry fourth overall in 2009.  Curry's lack of success coupled with Pete & John's mysterious draft habits soured me on the draft for the next dozen years.

Now we find ourselves coming off an demonstrably successful 2022 draft, preparing for a 2023 draft where our Seahawks hold 3 picks in the top 40.  In an effort to curb my enthusiasm, I'm going to publish a series of two-round mock drafts and explore the prospects in what many analysts are saying is an incredibly deep draft.

MOCK 1.0

First Round, Pick #5: Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Alabama

With the fifth overall pick, the Seahawks selected Will Anderson Jr., an edge rusher out of the University of Alabama. Anderson was a standout performer in his college career, with 15.5 sacks and 32.5 tackles for loss in two seasons. He's a versatile pass rusher who can play from either side and uses his speed and agility to get around offensive linemen. He's also strong against the run, with excellent instincts and technique.

This is the dream, right?  With Jalen Carter's off-field question marks, Anderson is the undisputed best non-quarterback in this draft.  In this particular mock, Stroud and Young went with the first two picks, but in a shocking twist, the Cardinals selected Oregon cornerback, Christian Gonzalez.  This put me in the mind-boggling position as fake-GM to choose between Carter, Anderson, and Richardson!  Since this is the first mock in this series, I didn't want to get to wild so I took the safest bet. 

Grade: A

First Round, Pick #20: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

With their second first-round pick, the Seahawks selected Joey Porter Jr., a cornerback from Penn State. Porter is a big, physical corner with excellent ball skills and a high football IQ. He's a good tackler and isn't afraid to mix it up in run support. Porter had four interceptions and 12 passes defended in his final season at Penn State.

I was torn with this selection. Nolan Smith is someone high on my list and he was available for me here.  In my ideal draft, Jaxon Smith-Njigba would fall to us here, but he was gone. Porter Jr. would pair nicely with Woolen in the Seahawks secondary, laying the foundation for a serious LOB 2.0 group.

Grade: B+

Second Round, Pick #37: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh

With their first pick in the second round, the Seahawks addressed their need for a defensive tackle by selecting Calijah Kancey out of the University of Pittsburgh. Kancey is a big, powerful player who can disrupt the interior of the offensive line. He had 10.5 tackles for loss and five sacks in his final season at Pitt.

The Seahawks' defensive line was a weakness last season, particularly against the run. Kancey has the potential to be a dominant run-stuffer in the NFL, and his ability to collapse the pocket should also help the Seahawks generate more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, especially when you factor the Anderson selection into the mix. In previous mocks, I had even taken Kancey with our 20th pick!

Grade: B

Second Round, Pick #52: Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee

With their final pick in the first two rounds, the Seahawks addressed their need for a wide receiver by selecting Cedric Tillman out of the University of Tennessee. Tillman is a big, physical receiver with excellent ball skills and the ability to make contested catches. He had 1,225 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in his final season at Tennessee.

The Seahawks' receiving corps has flimsy behind DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Tillman has the potential to be a reliable target, particularly in the red zone. I fully expect the Seahawks to bring in a gang of undrafted free agent receivers in hopes of finding another Baldwin or Kearse, but I'd love to see them commit some draft capital to that position group as well. 

Grade: B-

Overall Draft Grade: B+

This mini-mock does capture the essence of how I hope the Seahawks draft.  Three quarters of this draft was spent on defense-- Seahawks should employ a similar strategy.