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.  

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