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.

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